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Music

Kurt Cobain's 50 favourite albums of all time

@jackwhatley89

We’re dipping back into the Far Out vault to revisit the ‘Kurt Cobain Journals’, a collection of writings and drawings created by Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the now-iconic grunge band Nirvana from the late 1980s until his untimely death in 1994.

The book was published in hardcover by Riverhead Books in November 2002. At the time of its release, fans were split on the moral standing behind the publishing, with some believing that the project constituted an invasion of Cobain’s privacy. The others, though, welcomed the book and saw it as a unique opportunity to get a closer glimpse into his life and, ultimately, to understand him better.

Among the writings comes a list of Cobain’s favourite albums and wonderfully insightful notes on his perceptions of the band. At one point, when mentioning Leadbelly, he says: “I just have this feeling Eugene and Frances had a really cool relationship. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I think it’s a really amazing thing when a couple can get on together and write some of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.”

Adding: “They’re kind of sharing their life with people. Eugene and Frances are the Captain & Tennille of the underground.”

While the list contains a lot of bands you’d expect in the shape of Mudhoney, Butthole Surfers, and The Slits, the Nirvana frontman did offer an insight into the type of music he might have slowed things down to. At one point, when writing about Young Marble Giants and their album Colossal Youth, he said: “The music relaxes you, it’s total atmospherics. It’s just nice, pleasant music. I love it. The drum machine has to have the cheesiest sound ever.”

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Elsewhere, like any musician worth their salt, Cobain includes those pesky lads from Liverpool, citing Meet the Beatles! as a personal favourite. When discussing the band, the Nirvana frontman wasn’t shy about letting his feelings known:  I like the Beatles, but I hate Paul McCartney,” he once said. “John Lennon was definitely my favourite Beatle, hands down. I don’t know who wrote what parts of what Beatles songs, but Paul McCartney embarrasses me. Lennon was obviously disturbed [laughs]. So I could relate to that. And from the books I’ve read – and I’m so sceptical of anything I read, especially in rock books – I just felt really sorry for him. To be locked up in that apartment. Although he was totally in love with Yoko and his child, his life was a prison.”

Cobain made no secret of his love for the controversial band The Frogs, and, unsurprisingly, he included their 1989 album It’s Only Right and Natural as part of his list.

While most bands are limited in his collection, Cobain paid homage to The Wipes, who played a heavy part in influencing his music and style. Including three of their albums in his list, Cobain once said of the band: “Is this real? Yes it is,” before adding: “The Wipers released maybe four or five albums. The first two were totally classic and influenced The Melvins and all the other punk rock bands”.

He added: “They’re one of the bands I tried to assimilate. Their songs were so good. Greg Sage was pretty much the romantic, quiet, visionary kind of guy. What more can I say about them? They started Seattle grunge rock in Portland, 1977.”

Below, find the list of Kurt Cobain‘s favourite records as well as a monster playlist to have a listen to.

Kurt Cobain’s 50 favourite albums:

  1. Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power (1973)
  2. Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988)
  3. The Breeders – Pod (1990)
  4. The Vaselines – Dying for It (1988, listed as Pink EP)
  5. The Shaggs – Philosophy of the World (1969)
  6. Fang – Landshark! (1982)
  7. MDC – Millions of Dead Cops (1981)
  8. Scratch Acid – Scratch Acid (1984, listed as 1st EP)
  9. Saccharine Trust – Paganicons (1981, listed as 1st EP)
  10. Butthole SurfersPee Pee the Sailor (1983)
  11. Black Flag – My War (1984)
  12. Bad Brains – Rock for Light (1983)
  13. Gang of Four – Entertainment! (1979)
  14. Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
  15. The Frogs – It’s Only Right and Natural (1989)
  16. PJ Harvey – Dry (1992)
  17. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)
  18. The Knack – Get the Knack (1979)
  19. The Saints – Know Your Product (1978)
  20. Kleenex – “anything by:” (1978–1983, collected on 1993’s Kleenex/LiLiPUT anthology)
  21. The Raincoats – The Raincoats (1979)
  22. Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth (1980)
  23. Aerosmith – Rocks (1976)
  24. Various Artists – What Is It. (1982, erroneously listed as What Is This?)
  25. R.E.M. – Green (1988)
  26. Shonen Knife – Burning Farm (K Records version, 1985)
  27. The Slits – Cut (1979, listed as Typical Girls)
  28. The Clash – Combat Rock (1982)
  29. The Faith/Void – The Faith/Void (1982)
  30. Rites of Spring – Rites of Spring (1985)
  31. Beat Happening – Jamboree (1988)
  32. Tales of Terror – Tales of Terror (1984)
  33. Leadbelly – Leadbelly’s Last Sessions Volume One (1953)
  34. Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff (1988)
  35. Daniel Johnston – Yip/Jump Music (1983)
  36. Flipper – Album – Generic Flipper (1982)
  37. The Beatles – Meet the Beatles! (1964)
  38. Half Japanese – We Are They Who Ache with Amorous Love (1990)
  39. Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician (1987)
  40. Black Flag – Damaged (1981)
  41. Fear – The Record (1982)
  42. Public Image Ltd – The Flowers of Romance (1981)
  43. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
  44. Marine Girls – Beach Party (1981)
  45. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
  46. Wipers – Is This Real? (1980)
  47. Wipers – Youth of America (1981)
  48. Wipers – Over the Edge (1983)
  49. Mazzy Star – She Hangs Brightly (1990)
  50. SwansYoung God (1984, erroneously listed as Raping a Slave)

Stream the playlist it full, below.