For well over a decade now Nirvana fans trawling through websites like Amazon have probably gasped with excitement as they saw previously unknown (to them at least) albums by their heroes with titles like All Of Us and The Story of Simon Simopath.
For as they were about to find out, before Kurt and the chaps pinched a Pixies riff or two and delivered a pair of noisy grunge pop platters, they made a few rather wonderful whimsical British pop sike albums.
They may only have been in nappies at the time, but the baroque, heavily orchestrated pop albums Nirvana left in their wake would easily dwarf their later grungier efforts. Interestingly Kurt, who had chosen the splendid nom de plume of Patrick Campbell Lyons, had affected a nasally but quite appealing singing style. Meanwhile Dave Grohl had also taken a very imaginative pseudonym of Alex Spyropoulos, and perfected the art of playing all manner of obscure instruments. As every Foo Fighters fan knows – he was wasted on the drums.
Nirvana mark one even played a few shows in the hipper London venues of the time and hung out with pop royalty like The Kinks, who would sadly not influence their later work at all, and of course future front man Paul McCartney.
Perhaps Nirvana’s finest hour then is All Of Us, a brilliant hotch potch of silky, psychedelic pop songs that stay in your head for days. It also features their first hits too in Rainbow Chaser, a heavily phased track with the most delicate of tunes, and arguably their best ever song Tiny Goddess, a Left Banke style lilt that would later be covered admirably by French folk ice queen Francoise Hardy (see below for video of her singing the song in Italian).
Other highlights include the title track of sorts, The Touchables (All Of Us), the theme from the movie of the same name which features an unforgettable rabble-rousing chorus.
Sadly, having delivered their wonderfully chirpy soft pop masterpiece Kurt and Dave hit their wilderness years (primary school) which would see them suffer pain and angst – feelings all too familiar to anyone unfortunate enough to have heard their In Utero album (just kidding grunge fans!).
Ironically I was fortunate enough to meet the real Patrick Campbell Lyons a few months before his namesake band released Nevermind. He told me that he was thinking of suing the other Nirvana for pinching his name. ‘Don’t waste your money!’ I told him. ‘That dodgy old American punk band will never amount to anything.’ Spot on there wasn’t it?