Dropped me off at Grandpa Joe’s


“Thoughts on Montage of Heck?” my friend Eric tweeted me the other day. “It might be my favorite rock doc ever — totally overpowering and draining emotionally.”

Ah. Confession time. I still haven’t got round to seeing Montage of Heck, Brett Morgen’s garlanded documentary about Kurt Cobain, having missed it in the cinema, failed to use a now-expired link to an online copy another friend sent me, and not yet forked out the necessary £10 or so for the DVD in penance for my slack behaviour.* If I’d been a flannel-shirted extra in an early Kevin Smith film, I couldn’t have been much slacker. Indeed, it’s one of the main reasons I’ve barely blogged in the past three months or so, as my intended next post has been a review of the film…

By all accounts, professional and personal, Montage of Heck is excellent. I’m in two bands these days (twice as many chances for Mike McCready-inflected noodlings), and everyone in both bands who’s seen the film has told me so. And if that wasn’t sufficient, Consequence of Sound has described it as:

…what can only be defined as the definitive Cobain documentary. There is nowhere else to go from here.

Morgen assembled the film from a treasure trove of material made available to him by Cobain’s widow Courtney Love and daughter Frances Bean Cobain – unreleased music, paintings, home movies, notebooks – and he named the film after a mix tape that he found when sifting through all this material. Cobain put the mix tape together the year before Bleach came out; aside from his own sonic experimentations (with a fair amount of knobbing about, it has to be said), it includes a snatch of William Shatner’s cover of ‘Wild Thing’. (You can hear the tape here. Perhaps the Shatmeister is partially and subconsciously responsible for the main riff in ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’?)

Embed from Getty Images

So I really need to pull my thumb out. Promise a review soon once I’ve finally seen the thing.**

A separate bit of Nirvana news that I squirrelled away at the start of the year to include alongside the review-that-hasn’t-quite-been-written-yet-what-with-not-having-seen-the-film-and-all. To mark its 25th anniversary, a bootleg of a January 1990 Nirvana gig at Satyricon in Portland was posted on Youtube by someone who was there. It was also the night Cobain met Love. The original post (with video) has been taken down, but someone else has stuck up an audio-only version:

The audio quality isn’t great, but it’s a cracking run-through Bleach, interspersed with the odd song that later appeared on Incesticide.

* Nor, come to that, bought the companion book.
**Soon-ish. Ok, I promise a review. Look it took me a year once to review a Pearl Jam gig. But I’ll get there. Probably. Definitely. One of those.

PS Just remembered, I’m not the only person out there who hasn’t seen Montage of Heck: neither has Dave Grohl, whose interviews for the film took place too late to make the final cut. His reason’s probably better than mine though.


About Mark Anstee

guitarist, Radio Seattle View all posts by Mark Anstee

Share, if it makes you sleep, if it sets you free, if it helps you breathe…

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