A Portrait of the Artist Kurt Cobain: “Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings”

Featured Image via Rolling Stone

The release of the album Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings, a soundtrack of sorts to the Kurt Cobain documentary of the same name released earlier this year, has not been without controversy. Some fans have argued that the album is exploitative, and that Cobain would not have wanted these tracks to be released to the public. However, director of the Montage of Heck film and curator of the album, Brett Morgen, told The New York Times that “I believe there is a tremendous public interest in exploring how great art is created… I think Kurt is a profound and incredibly important artist.” He also claimed that Kurt Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, and his relatives approved of the entire project.

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Nonetheless, the album is now here for your streaming or purchasing pleasure, in both a 13-track version and a “deluxe” 31-track version. The regular version includes some early solo demos of what were to become Nirvana tracks (“Been a Son”, “Sappy,” “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” to name a few). It’s interesting, almost powerful, to be able to listen the origins of tracks that became some of the strongest in Nirvana’s catalog. Maybe this is what Morgen meant by “exploring how great art is created.” The album also includes songs featured in the documentary, such as the standout Beatles cover “And I Love Her.” Cobain was a well-known John Lennon fan, and the velvet intimacy of Cobain’s voice here is reminiscent of his powerful acoustic performance with Nirvana on MTV’s Unplugged. Among these songs are eclectic experiments with sound (“Reverb Experiment”, “The Yodel Song”) and content (“Scoff, “Desire”) that conjure up an image of Cobain just fooling around by himself with his guitar.

The deluxe version features all of the original thirteen songs with some extra tidbits. Some are quite interesting, like the humorous “Beans,” the confessional “Aberdeen,” the long medley of “Do Re Mi,” and the catchy riff of “What More Can I Say.” However, many of the “tracks” are less than one-minute ditties of random noises interspersed with dead air. These are the tracks that, if any, would be deemed filler and more of a novelty, but I guess for the die-hard Cobain fan, they add to his mystique. Maybe they should have combined some of those into a medley track; it just doesn’t seem quite fair to call the deluxe album a 31-track album.

Overall, there’s nothing here that seems particularly exploitative or embarrassing to Cobain’s image, and the album complements the documentary well. For a study of an artist, the Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings covers the subject pretty well.

Listen to the deluxe version of Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings below and let us know what you think in the comments! 

2 Comments

  1. Bryana Natale

    November 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Cannot wait to check this out. Part of me, does feel like I am sneaking into someone’s journal though.

  2. Amanda S

    November 23, 2015 at 1:22 am

    The cover of “And I Love Her” kills me.

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