Before the phenomenon that was Nevermind, there was Nirvana’s debut album’s Bleach.
Released in June 1989 on the independent label Sub Pop, the album was just a taste of the Seattle grunge music scene, which would later dominate in the early 1990s. Upon its release, it was well received by critics, but didn’t quite make the U.S. charts. In fact, it wasn’t until the band’s second album Nevermind became a huge success, in which the album would chart at number 89 on the US charts (and the top forty in the UK and Australia).
Bleach followed the release of Nirvana’s debut single “Love Buzz”, which was originally a song from the late 1960’s group Shocking Blue (best known for the number one hit “Venus”). According to an interview with frontman Kurt Cobain, the album was conformity to the grunge scene that Sub Pop had heavily endorsed, with the song described as “bleak and claustrophobic”. Songs from the album include “About a Girl”, “Negative Creep”, and “Floyd the Barber”.
While Bleach wasn’t a chart hit at the time of its release, it did sell steadily. However there was dissatisfaction from Nirvana over lack of promotion. The album would also be the last with drummer Chris Channing, who would later be replaced by Dave Grohl. In addition to setting the stage for the Nevermind’s breakthrough, the album would be re-released a few more times, including a deluxe issue for its 20th anniversary, featuring a live performance in Portland, Oregon.