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14 unreleased Nirvana demos mysteriously surface online — listen

on August 03, 2015, 12:25pm

Over the weekend, over a dozen previously unheard Nirvana alternate mixes and demo takes inexplicably made their way online.

Intrepid Reddit users (via Stereogum) have meticulously combed through the tracks and pulled out as much information as they could. Though the source of the material is unclear, here’s what we do know: Included in the 14 songs are at least four outtakes from the band’s famed Sound City sessions: a “Sappy” outtake, a new “Verse Chorus Verse” mix, and two versions of “Old Age”.

The collection also includes a 1993 version of “Heart-Shaped Box” that contains a longer guitar solo, as well as demos of “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”, “Scentless Apprentice”, and an alternative take on their Velvet Underground cover, “Here She Comes Now”.

There’s a whole lot to dive into, so check it all out below. Many of the songs are preceded by thorough descriptions provided via Reddit user r1ckyh1mself.

Update: The original YouTube videos have been taken down, but you can still listen via SoundCloud.

“Sappy” (Nevermind Outtake) Recorded in May-June, 1991 Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA; “The band took another stab at recording ‘Sappy’ at Sound City. Cobain played lead guitar while attempting to sing one live scratch vocal. He also made one formal vocal pass. After overdubbing the lead fuzz guitar with his Rat pedal, Cobain laid down his guitar and walked straight into the control room. ‘I don’t want to do this,’ he insisted. ‘I’m not into this song right now. So let’s leave it.’ The song is in a different key to that of previously recorded versions, it opens without instrumental intro and features a few lyrical changes, the guitar solo is also subtly different.”

“Verse Chorus Verse” (Alt. Take) Recorded in May-June, 1991 Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA; “The band recorded this track live, with Cobain providing a scratch vocal. Cobain then overdubbed three guitars to complement the bass and drums. Although the song was finished instrumentally, Cobain never recorded a formal lead vocal part.”

“Scentless Apprentice (Demo – Alt. Mix) Recorded in January 19-21, 1993 BMG Ariola Ltda., Rio de Janeiro, BR

“Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip” (Alt. Mix) Recorded in January 19-21, 1993 BMG Ariola Ltda., Rio de Janeiro

“Heart-Shaped Box” (Instrumental) Recorded in February 12-26, 1993 Pachyderm Studios, Cannon Falls, MN; “This demo has different solo than album version.”

“Polly” (Alt. Mix) Recorded in April 2-6, 1990 Smart Studios, Madison WI; “The rendition of ‘Polly’ captured at this session was so successful that it was used on Nevermind. [Butch] Vig recalls it as being the final track recorded.”

“Here She Comes Now” (Alt. Mix) Recorded in April 2-6, 1990 Smart Studios, Madison WI; “[Chris] Channing recalls ‘Here She Comes Now’ as being one of the few takes that went smoothly at Smart; ‘I was shocked we did that one,’ he remembers, ‘that was a fun song.’ [Krist] Novoselic says that the reason the band covered the song was because they’d been asked to by an indie label. ‘Gary from Tupelo Records called up and said he was putting out a Velvet Underground tribute record, and he wanted us to play on it. We had never played that song before [the Smart sessions] and we hardly ever played it after. We just kind of hashed it out. We did that song in one take’.”

“Tourette’s” (Alt. Mix) Recorded in February 12-26, 1993 Pachyderm Studios, Cannon Falls, MN

“Old Age” (Alt Take – Mix 1) Recorded in May-June, 1991 Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA; “The band recorded this track live, with Cobain again providing a scratch vocal. It was quickly dropped after a guitar overdub was completed.”

“Old Age” (Alt. Take – Mix 2) Recorded in May-June, 1991 Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA; “The band recorded this track live, with Cobain again providing a scratch vocal. It was quickly dropped after a guitar overdub was completed.”

“Milk It” (Demo – Alt. Mix) Recorded in January 19-21, 1993 Ariola BMG Studios, Rio de Janeiro, BR

“Onward Into Countless Battles” (Alt. Mix) Recorded in January 19-21, 1993 Ariola BMG Studios, Rio de Janeiro, BR

“I Hate Myself And Want To Die” (Demo – Alt. Mix) Recorded in January 19-21, 1993 Ariola BMG Studios, Rio de Janeiro, BR

“Seasons In The Sun” (Alt. Mix) Recorded in January 19-21, 1993 Ariola BMG Studios, Rio de Janeiro, BR

“Earth – Divine and Bright” (Reissue); “This wasn’t released today, but on a reissue of Dylan Carlson’s band Earth released in 2010, and has Kurt singing lead vocals along with Kelly Canary from the band Dickless. It’s a cool little song, and I’m surprised how many people never heard this before.”

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