A “secret memo” allegedly written in the lead-up to a possible In Utero reissue has been making the rounds online this morning after popping up on Collapse Board and people have wasted no time buying into it. The thing is, it’s pretty obviously satire, something the original site rightfully decided against pointing out. More importantly, it’s pretty brilliant.
The basic idea behind the memo is simple: people love buying the same shit over and over again, and more than that, they love hearing the same stories repeated. Thus, the memo plays up that fact and suggests that reviews of the reissue (which we should add has never been formally announced) should “hold to a similar pattern.”
The memo says it’s the reviewer’s job “to retell the story, to reinforce the legends, to emphasise the inflexibility of the narrative.” It then provides some helpful (and hilarious) bullet point suggestions.
For full effect, we’ve included them all here:
1. Give some brief background details. This is called SETTING THE SCENE. The Nirvana/Kurt Cobain legend must reinforce again and again the idea of the reluctant star, the uncomfortable voice of a generation. I recommend the use of the term “thrust into the limelight”. It functions beautifully for our purposes. I can’t stress enough that if the tragedy of the story is to emerge it can only do so from the idea of the reluctant star. Nevermind made them famous. What would they do now? (If you must mention Incesticide, be sure to call it a “stopgap” release.)
2. In Utero must be viewed as their attempt to regain punk credibility. Nirvana are on a major label, but you should present Cobain as a punk rocker at heart. Further tragedy can be wrung from the idea of the compromise that Nirvana made when they opted to sweeten two of the Steve Albini-produced tracks and make them more airplay friendly. (Please note: the original Albini-produced album will be available with the reissue. We have several bloggers working on reviews that seek to dismiss the original release and describe the original Albini mix as a ‘revelation’. This should bring the Nevermind haters on board).
3. The reissue itself. The best way to get people to buy an album twice is to say it has been remastered. This usually amounts to making it louder, but this is where reviews can be crucial. The reviewer must create an unscratchable itch in the reader that makes them view the original release as an inferior product. Phrases like “went back to the original master tapes” and “working with the band” help, but it must be more than that. Use other phrases like “Cobain’s aching howl sounds even more revelatory” (be careful not to overuse revelation/revelatory), and indicate that the remastering job “breathes new life” into the album. Don’t insinuate that the mix has changed, more that it has been enhanced so that you hear everything with new ears.
4. The bonus tracks. The original Albini mix will be a huge draw. Ultimately this will be the thing that convinces the doubters to part with their money. When dealing with the original Albini mix, explore the idea of compromise versus Cobain’s “original vision”, and don’t miss the opportunity to bring tragedy to the surface once again.
5. Summing up. Two things are essential when summing up In Utero: It must be touted as the best Nirvana album. A phrase like “though Nevermind was their breakthrough, In Utero is undoubtedly their best” should work fine. You might want to say “may well be their best”. We’ve already sold them Nevermind by making it seem like a special moment in musical history, so let’s sell them In Utero by pointing out that it’s actually their best. This time, it’s all about the music. The second thing to emphasise is that In Utero must be seen as the last will and testament of a soul not long for this world. Stress how dark, disjointed, and angry the album is. Stress its compromised creation. Be sure to include a sentence along the lines of “just over six months after In Utero’s release Cobain would be dead by his own hand”. By all means, mention heroin and suicide attempts but make sure Cobain’s untimely death seems tragic yet inevitable.
That’s a lot to read, so if you didn’t, here’s the memo’s own tl;dr of what it says: “Kurt Cobain: Reluctant star. Pressure. Compromise. Depression. Heroin. Death. It’s that simple.”
The dead giveaway that it’s fake is in the closing sentences, which joke about it being “too soon” for a White Stripes reissue. But just because it’s satire doesn’t mean it’s wrong—the Onion proved this as only they could with their brilliant covergae of the Sandy Hook shootings.
In Utero was originally released on September 13th, 1993, so while one hasn’t been officially announced, it’s safe to assume we’ll get a reissue in about 9 months.