Wallace Wylie

Secret Memo Regarding Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ Reissue Leaked

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Nirvana - In Utero sleeve

By the Collapse Board editors

The following document was obtained by Collapse Board from an unnamed source. It is currently being distributed to all major music publications and websites. Despite the threat of lawsuit, we have decided to publish this document verbatim. The author of the document is unknown.


This memo is being sent out to prepare everyone for the major musical event of 2013. I am speaking, of course, about the 20th anniversary reissue of In Utero by Nirvana. Our friends at Pitchfork will produce a news item around May letting people know that the reissue is coming. Details will be scant, but it will nevertheless grease the wheels and allow a suitable amount of excitement to build up before the actual reissue. When the reviews start to appear it is vital that they all hold to a similar pattern. To understand why this is the case we must look once more to The Beatles. The sheer amount of Beatles literature (and its continued market success) should tell us all one very important fact: people not only like to read the same story over and over again, they demand it. Our job is to retell the story, to reinforce the legends, to emphasise the inflexibility of the narrative. So, given these facts I’ve prepared some bulletin points that focus on what each review should highlight:

  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.

Kurt Cobain: Reluctant star. Pressure. Compromise. Depression. Heroin. Death. It’s that simple. Don’t feel like you are selling yourself short by sticking to these guidelines. Instead know that you are performing a public service. You are providing comfort and certitude in a world of confusion. You are giving people something to believe in. You are helping to make the art of Kurt Cobain immortal. Expect more high profile media events along the lines of the Nirvana/McCartney collaboration before long and, with any luck, we can anticipate a lucrative last quarter in 2013. One last thing: is 2014 too early for a 15th anniversary of the first White Stripes album, or should we wait for the 20th anniversary? I look forward to your feedback. Let’s make the myths.

Rare footage of Nirvana on British TV from 1994

Related posts:
Serious Music for Serious People | the continued betrayal of music
REVIEWED IN PICTURES: Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (box set)
Nirvana’s Nevermind, 20 Years Later
The 10 Myths about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana they didn’t want you to read
Deconstructing The Myth | 10 Reasons Why “Secret Memo Regarding Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ Reissue Leaked” Is Not For Real
That In Utero memo Google-translated into Haitian Creole, Russian, Welsh, Esperanto, Icelandic and back again into English
That In Utero memo | An outraged* reader responds

33 Responses to Secret Memo Regarding Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ Reissue Leaked

  1. It's me! January 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I suspect the initials of the unknown author are either ET or JT.

  2. soooooyousee January 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Reckon you should have big warning saying this is a parody or something otherwise your intended ironic postpostpostmodern bit lame ‘joke’ memo will probably be passed round the internet as if true. Probably make the NME webpage anyhow as a ‘leeked memo’. Imagine the irony of that? Irony , irony , schmirony , overload
    crap article tbh and music journalism at its lamest.

  3. Mike January 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    This is excellent… Very nicely done.

  4. Everett True January 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    There’s a certain poetic beauty in the way this story is currently being shared via Twitter.

    “People demand to read the same stories again and again” | Secret Memo Regarding Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ Reissue Leaked |

  5. Martin James January 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    ‘Let’s make the myths.’ – priceless

  6. Cor January 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    It’s the “albini tapes” that made me lol.

    Must buy…. Anniversary….reissues….of…records I’ve owned since ’94

    Also good jab at the ol pitchfork as always

  7. Pingback: The In Utero Memo | gitmonationbuckfastandhaggis

  8. Johnny W. Bush January 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    The “Nevermind” reissue was horrible…a loud, obnoxious remastering that ruined the sound of the music…a bad remix of a concert that everybody’s had since the mid-90’s in a much better mix…a bunch of common b-sides and boring alternate mixes. Then there’s the stuff that WASN’T included because they “couldn’t find the tapes”. A total waste of time, and I’m sure the “In Utero” reissue will be more of the same.

  9. foundmyselfdeadthismorning January 8, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Aw, c’mon it’s about time for the full Live and Loud on DVD/Blu-Ray!

  10. James Flint January 8, 2013 at 1:34 am


  11. Pingback: “Secret Memo” regarding possible ‘In Utero’ reissue makes the rounds online

  12. Pingback: Internet chokes on its own vomit, dies | CultureVac

  13. Lord KooFoo January 8, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Who cares. Seriously, nobody.

  14. Cherrybomb January 8, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Nope. Nope. Nope. Not even Courtney believes this shit.

  15. Stuart January 8, 2013 at 8:10 am

    This is a hoax … Surely

  16. soooooyousee January 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

    @ Stuart

  17. Stuart January 8, 2013 at 9:44 am


  18. soooooyousee January 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    “Johnny W. Bush says:
    January 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    The “Nevermind” reissue was horrible…a loud, obnoxious remastering that ruined the sound of the music…a bad remix of a concert that everybody’s had since the mid-90′s in a much better mix….”

    Irony is it was Bob Ludgwig who did the Nevermind remaster and has actually a very fine reputation in mastering (He actually also mastered the In Utero release originally) and has actually remastered stuff like some of The Stones backcatalogue pretty well by all accounts .
    He was clearly following label orders or something with the Nevermind 20 release.

  19. soooooyousee January 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    “Johnny W. Bush says:
    January 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm
    The “Nevermind” reissue was horrible…a loud, obnoxious remastering that ruined the sound of the music…”

    Irony is it was Bob Ludwig who did the Nevermind 20th remaster and has actually a very fine reputation in mastering .He actually mastered the original In Utero release . Of recent times he has re-mastered stuff like some of The Stones backcatalogue pretty well by all accounts .
    He was clearly following label orders or something with the Nevermind 20 release.

  20. soooooyousee January 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Yeh thats the the thing / problem Erika.
    Bob Ludwig clearly got different instructions from say the Rolling Stones camp when he was remastering some their albums few years back than did form the Nirvana camp in Universal who must have gave different ones or just didnt even care.

    Bob Ludwig himself has been a critic of the ‘loudness wars’ so he was clearly doing the Nevermind 20 anniversary re-master to order by instructions from the label. I have to say i have heard worse LOUD remasters but even so its not a good one.

    Nevermind was a compressed enough record as it was , it was recorded in 90s it didnt even need a remastering.

  21. Hype Me January 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    This memo may possibly conceivably theoretically not be real, because unlike every other reference to “Nevermind” ever, it fails to mention that Nirvana bumped Michael Jackson out of the #1 spot on the Billboard album chart. Thus kickstarting a new popular age of indie-driven music, bla bla bla.

    However, LIKE every other reference to “Nevermind” ever, it also omits mentioning that “Nevermind” was itself bumped out of the #1 album spot just one week later… by Garth Brooks.

    So in that respect the memo is entirely plausible! Yin or yang, what to think, what to think?

  22. GoRdoN PetErSon January 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    gOD dAMn It Let HiM FucKinG BurN OuT aLrEadY! “Kcuf ssiP tIsH” Kurdt D Kobain

  23. Frank Statement January 8, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    I’m afraid this is no better than attempting to polish a turd. Cobain was never more than a media campaign. We must assume that the widow Cobain is getting short of a few bucks.

  24. Josh Thorne January 9, 2013 at 3:49 am

    Clearly a hoax. Things like this are sort of funny, but they are bad for credulous people who believe that everything in the media is coordinated. Let’s keep idiots in mind when we try to make things go viral.

  25. Sovcal January 9, 2013 at 4:04 am

    HAHA, FOOLS!! YOU’VE GIVEN PITCHFORK’S SECRET RECIPE FOR REVIEWS! I’m off to rewrite all their most popular reviews for the last four years, wish me luck.

  26. Pingback: Internet Detritus #3 | Bionic Teaching

  27. Pingback: Nirvana memo bolsters skepticism in digital age Daily Republic

  28. Scott Ross January 12, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Kirt Cobain, was the greatest song writer of all time bar, none…

  29. Pingback: Nirvana's In Utero re-release is full of marketing tricks

  30. Everett True February 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Electric Banana received a note from Sujata Murthy the Sr. Vice-President of Public Relations at Universal Music Enterprises this morning stating, “Regarding the Nirvana “memo” being circulated, Universal Music Group is pleased to see that fans, media outlets, and journalists are not fooled by the hoax. We regret that fans received this initially as “Nirvana news” instead of legitimate information from the band or the label.”

    more here

  31. this is all garbage March 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I’ve heard the “original” version of In Utero. It’s way different and has less polish then it did originally. Guitars are sharper, lyrics are buried Albini style. This journalistic bullshit is unwarranted and useless. No hype needed. Rolling stone is a rag, grunge is dead. My generation’s Bob Dylan shot himself. It’s sad and heart wrenching. A regular person made it big and we watched him crash and burn. True American tradition. Nobody is going to truly appreciate it anyways. Whatever nevermind.

  32. james September 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Reading this helps me justify downloading it.

  33. James Flint September 12, 2013 at 12:13 am

    I’m out of time, but this —->

    ‘If the memo is in fact genuine then the end of music criticism as it once has been could very soon be no longer.’ – http://www.electric-banana.co.uk/news/music-news/universal-music-group-react-to-leaked-nirvana-memo/


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