On Nov. 13, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, The Home Recordings was released. Whether the full boxed set or just the stand-alone album, this album should be considered the grand finale for one of the most important bands of the past 30 years.
Comprised of demos, unreleased material and random musical (and bodily noise) emanations of Kurt Cobain before and during his years with Nirvana, the album is the soundtrack of the documentary of the same name. It’s also the last thing that should ever be release under the Nirvana album. There’s already a greatest hits collection, a boxed set to end all boxed sets, etc. And while there are some endearing, heart-breaking moments on this album, there are no golden moments of brilliance here that we haven’t heard before.
As noted by Alan Cross over on A Journal of Musical Things, “If there’s one thing we can extrapolate from the release of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the Home Recordings, is that the Nirvana well is dry. Even the dregs are gone.” Cobain will not be the rock equivalent of Tupac, earning nearly endless wealth for his descendants on a seemingly endless stream of posthumously released records.
Or, as Brett Morgen, who directed the film and compiled the album, told Rolling Stone, “I curated the album to create a feeling that the listener was sitting in Kurt’s apartment, in Olympia, Washington, in the late Eighties, and bearing witness to his creation. “In many ways, it unfolds like a concept album. It’s a journey, an experience.”
Possibly the only hidden gem here is the much discussed cover of the Beatles “And I Love Her,” an emotional recording. There’s also the song “Letter to Frances,” a simple, plinky outline of a song for Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, with wife Courtney Love. If nothing else, that such a song exists when the man who wrote it doesn’t kind of sucks. A lot.