Back in 1988, Kurt Cobain did what all the other cool kids were doing at the time: He made a mix tape. But instead of songs like "Never Gonna Give You Up," the tape the 21-year-old put together on a home four-track recorder features weird sound effects and bits and pieces of eclectic songs that range from a somewhat obscure 1966 single ("The Men in My Little Girl's Life" by Mike Douglas) to George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" to the Andy Griffith Show theme song. Dangerous Minds last week showcased "Montage of Heck" in full, along with a complete list of what's included on it, and writer Martin Schneider says the mix tape is more like an "unbelievably wacked-out sound collage." It was reportedly recorded in June 1988, as Cobain was working on tracks for Nirvana's debut LP, Bleach, which would come out a year later.
Cobain put the tape together using his LP collection, manipulated radio recordings, sounds he himself created or recorded, and even "elements of Nirvana demos," Schneider writes. Some of the snippets Cobain uncovered and used are "truly bizarre," writes August Brown at the Los Angeles Times, making the mix tape "a cross between a zany late-night radio show and the coolest college radio station record collection you could ask for as a late '80s rock fan." As many point out, the mix is especially impressive considering Cobain put it together in the pre-Internet era. "If you've ever longed for a journey into the deep, dark mind of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, this might be the closest you'll get," writes Marlow Stern at the Daily Beast. And, as James Grebey at Spin notes, it is indeed disturbing in parts: "There's a lengthy segment about three minutes in that's mostly a repeated retching sound." (Click to read about the cruel note found in Cobain's wallet after his death.)