LIVE NIRVANA SESSIONS HISTORY (Melvins) Late 1992 - Razor's Edge Recording, San Francisco, CA, US View in Google Maps

  • Melvins
    • Black, Lori (bass)
    • Crover, Dale (drums, backing vocals)
    • Osborne, Buzz (vocals, guitar, bass)
  • Cobain, Kurt (guitar)
  • Anderson, Billy (engineer)
  • Burnside, Jonathan (engineer)
  • Cobain, Kurt (producer)
  • Dribin, Lou (engineer)
  • [U] Joan of Arc
  • [U] Set Me Straight
  • [O] Sky Pup Cobain on guitar, Osborne on bass
  • [O] Pearl Bomb
Source ID Quality Complete Runtime Lowest Gen Tracks Featured Notes
SBD #1 10.0 0:06:35 Official CD (Melvins - Houdini) • Sky Pup
• Pearl Bomb
Mixed by Jonathan Burnside, 1992.
SBD #2 9.0 0:13:36 ANA(X)>CDR(1)>FLAC • Joan Of Arc
• Set Me Straight
• Sky Pup
• Pearl Bomb
Rough mixes by Jonathan Burnside, 1992.

Kurt Cobain is credited with producing the Melvins' major label debut, Houdini, but the true extent of his involvement is hard to gauge. I still don't know what the technical description of a producer is, Cobain told Impact's Jennie Punter in 1993. I just oversaw everything, I pretty much observed and made a few comments and suggestions here and there. I physically set up the microphones for a few of the songs. And I mixed it. (1) However, eyewitness reports suggest that Cobain was largely indisposed—leaving engineers, Jonathan Burnside and Billy Anderson, to pick up the slack.

[The stuff attributed to Kurt] was definitely mixed by Jonathan, says assistant engineer, Tom Doty. Kurt was mostly asleep on the couch in front of the console. He woke up once to ask for the guitars to be louder (I can't remember which song), and once to ask if we had any free sodas (we didn't—just a vending machine). (2)

Of course, there may have been conversations outside of the studio regarding the mixes that I wasn't privy to, says Doty. I wasn't present for the tracking, but from what I heard he wasn't very hands-on in those sessions either. Still, it was great for the band—who in their right mind would turn down an offer from Kurt Cobain to produce their record? (2)

Perhaps Cobain's most tangible contribution can be found on Sky Pup. Kurt played my Fender Mustang through all my pedals into my little Champ, recalls Burnside. As he was a leftie, he was limited playing a right-handed guitar but I manipulated the guitar effect pedals in real time as he played to give it something. (3)

The Melvins were said to have been appreciative of Cobain's hands-off approach. (4) What I was looking for from Kurt was musical input, not knob-twiddling input, Osborne later told Guitar World. I was burnt-out at the time, and thought another creative collaborator would help out. But it didn't really happen. Dale and I did most of that album ourselves. (5)

  1. Punter, Jennie, 1993. In Womb, Impact [online] Available at:
  2. Doty, Tom, 2008. Personal communication with Alex Roberts.
  3. Burnside, Jonathan, 2008. Personal communication with Alex Roberts.
  4. Azerrad, Michael, 1993. Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana. Doubleday.
  5. Unknown author, 1995. The Father, The Son and The Holy Grunge, Guitar World, Feb., 1995.

© Alex Roberts. August 28, 2011