Even if the pioneering, legendary '90s grunge band Nirvana has only a relatively minor link to '80s music, the connection is most certainly an interesting one. Undoubtedly, all three members of the band during its peak years of the early '90s (frontman and creative leader Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl) began their musical destinies with plenty of hard work and exploration as relatively unknown figures within underground '80s rock. Now that Nirvana has been honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during its first year of eligibility, this might be a perfect time to celebrate the band's various, eclectic origins.
Perhaps the most officially active member of Nirvana during this formative period was Grohl, who drummed for a few years in the seminal Washington, D.C. post-hardcore outfit Scream. A highly underrated contributor to both the grunge sound as well as a wider array of rocking alternative styles that would emerge throughout the '90s, Scream was led by brothers Peter and Franz Stahl. The band released several critically favored albums during the '80s for Ian MacKaye's Dischord Records, but in 1988 the quintet moved briefly to formerly reggae-heavy RAS Records to record its penultimate LP, 1988's No More Censorship. Grohl's busy but powerfully energetic drumming style can be heard on this album, which largely introduces a sort of versatile hard rock fusion that in many ways foreshadowed the grunge movement to come a few years later. There's plenty of punk and hardcore attitude to be found here, but there's also the influence of heavy metal and good old-fashioned hard rock on Peter Stahl's generally scream-free vocals. As an individual track, "No More Censorship" delivers from its haunting acoustic guitar opening all the way through its muscular, riff-laden attack that deftly spotlights playful rhythms and biting, confrontational lyrics. Grohl's work on the skins here certainly helped get him the Nirvana gig, but the Stahl brothers deserve credit for their uniquely soulful rock approach.
- Listen to "No More Censorship" in its entirety here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of RAS Records