After Nevermind, headliner became a more accurate description of Nirvana than opening act. But when this bootleg was recorded in 1990, Nirvana had yet to become huge. Though the Seattle trio enjoyed a small following and could fill a club, it wasn't headlining any arenas. The main focus of Murder By Guitar is an August 17, 1990 set at the Hollywood Palladium, where Nirvana opened for Sonic Youth. This CD has a lot going for it -- the sound quality is excellent, and Kurt Cobain is passionate and focused during a set that offers a lot of songs from Bleach (including "About a Girl," "Negative Creep," "Blew," "Scoff," "Floyd the Barber," "School," and Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz"). In August 1990, the best was yet to come for Nirvana, but the fans who bought Bleach knew that the band had tremendous potential. After the Hollywood Palladium set, Murder By Guitar shifts gears and turns its attention to several studio demos that Butch Vig produced in April 1990. Some of the songs ended up on Nevermind the following year, including "Lithium," "In Bloom," and "Polly." But in August 1990, it looked like Nirvana would record them for a second Sub Pop album -- however, that album was aborted. They, of course, ended up leaving Sub Pop and signing with Geffen in 1991, when Vig co-produced the outstanding Nevermind. This enjoyable, if imperfect, bootleg isn't essential, but it will interest hardcore collectors if they're able to track down a copy.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson