No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked

RS tackles the complete catalog of the band that defined the Nineties and made the world a lot noisier

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85. "Montage of Heck"

This half-hour collage is unquestionably the most avant-garde moment to emerge from a band that ended their major label debut with five minutes of squealing feedback. The 1988 track emerged from the same era of "culture-jamming" copyright criminality like Negativland. Cobain went ballistic on his 4-track, mixing scratchy records, Nirvana demos and screams. The mucky tangle connects dots between John Cage's tape-splice symphony "Williams Mix" to the Beatles' "Revolution No. 9" to Public Enemy's sample slaughter It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (one of Cobain's favorite records, and – if bootleggers can be trusted – released the same month that "Montage of Heck" was recorded). Jarring, unsettling, and darkly nostalgic, it's pure distillation of the obsessions that would follow Cobain for a career: Childhood (crackly kids records), meta-commentary on music (the repeating word "disco"), KISS (the opening of Alive), homophobia (Archie Bunker) and the human body (puerile toilet noises). CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

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