Came home last night to the pop music punditry of “Classic Albums: Nevermind” on BBC2, a reverent eulogizing of Nirvana’s Nevermind. It reminded me of my own rock critic prehistory, when I actually wrote one of the first ever reviews:

Nirvana recently did an all-ages show here in Chicago, which I guess means I’m supposed to be too old to like this sludge. Unlike the rest of their Sub Pop labelmates (although Nevermind is being released as a joint venture with Geffen’s DGC), Nirvana is less a continuation of the boring revalorization of Led Zeppelin than a vision of Hollywood-style popmetal from Poison to the Crüe redone by dudes with brains and balls instead of hairspray. Nirvana’s simple three-piece sound thuds along without instrumental pyrotechincs. In fact, their obvious lack of technique pegs them as indie rockers rather than metalheads, if such distinctions matter. This is the kind of rock ’n’ roll that makes you (well, me at least) want to jump around your room and play air guitar—so don’t be ashamed.

None of Nirvana’s new Nevermind is quite as groovy as their last single, “Sliver,” but it grinds its way into my twenty-five year old heart better than the new Guns ’n Roses singles. Most of the album stays wild and raw and most of all fun. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”—which is a good description of the album as well—becomes Nirvana’s anti-manifesto: “Here we are now, entertain us/ a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido, a denial” wrapped up in abrasive guitar chords catchy enough to hum if you could attach a distortion pedal to your lips. I don’t know how old Nirvana are, but they seem a better depiction of teen-age than the New Kids: confused, loud, and smarter than you want to give them credit for. Kinda like the Stooges—these guys have gotten together to make a loud, raunchy noise at the world.

(From Chicago’s free weekly newspaper, New City, 1991 — so it might not make a lot of sense nearly a decade and a half later, and six thousand miles away.) I was ahead of the curve, but didn’t quite get the significance… Since then grunge has come and gone, and the world has shattered and reassembled itself several times. Kurt has become late and much-lamented, and attained his place in the rock’n’roll canon, while bassist Krist Novosoelic looks straighter even than his forty years would suggest, but is pursuing the truly rock’n’roll career of actually trying to change the world through political action.