Geffen Records Concedes Nirvana Nuggets Not Likely

Nirvana fans may be hoping to eventually console themselves over the loss of Kurt Cobain with future albums of previously unreleased material.

But the vaults are virtually empty, according to sources at Geffen Records.

The exception: Nirvana's acclaimed appearance last year on MTV's "Unplugged." That performance, featuring such band favorites as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "All Apologies," will likely be made available in both album and video form, though it's too early to think about a date.

In fact, the idea of an "Unplugged" album, including some songs not featured in the MTV telecast, had been in the talking stage before Cobain's suicide earlier this month.

Among the songs that were on the telecast but had not been previously recorded by Nirvana are the traditional gospel number "Jesus Wants You for a Sunbeam" (which was played before the private memorial service for Cobain last Sunday in Seattle) and an old Meat Puppets song featuring a guest appearance by that band.

Several songs from that taping were originally to have been included on an EP that was intended for a release tied to the band's planned headlining slot on the "Lollapalooza '94" tour this summer. But when Nirvana pulled out from "Lollapalooza" last month, the EP plans were scrapped.

Other live recordings of the band do exist, the sources say, but it is unlikely that they will be turned into an album. And virtually every B-side or alternative take has already been released, either on Nirvana's own 1992 "Incesticide" collection or, in the case of the sarcastic "I Hate Myself and I Want to Die," on last year's "Beavis and Butt-head Experience" compilation.

Geffen Records is being cautious about doing anything that could be perceived as capitalizing on Cobain's death. No promotional activity will be undertaken for existing Nirvana recordings, and the company even put a moratorium on promotion for the new album by Hole, the band fronted by Cobain's widow Courtney Love, which was released last week.

But that will do nothing to stem an inevitable tide of unofficial Nirvana material. The bootleg record market is certain to be flooded with CDs made from illegal tapes of Nirvana concerts. And St. Martin's Press announced just days after Cobain's death that it is preparing what will undoubtedly be the first of many "quickie" books about the tragic life and death of the singer.

STREET FIGHT: Have you heard that version of Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" from the Oscar telecast that some radio stations are playing? The one with the sound bites of Springsteen's and Tom Hanks' Academy Awards acceptance speeches mixed in?

Want to hear it again?

Then you'd better tape it the next time it's on the air, because it may be your last chance.

The version of the song, which won the Oscar as best original song for its role in the AIDS drama "Philadelphia," was made by Columbia Records from a tape of the Oscar telecast and distributed by the company to radio stations around the country.

But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says that such usage is a violation of the organization's copyright, and academy lawyers are telling radio programmers, including Los Angeles station KIIS-FM (102.7) that they must stop--or face legal action.

"Anything off the show is owned by the academy," says academy spokesman Bob Werden. News programs, he says, are allowed to air excerpts of up to one minute in length during the six days following the telecast. After that, even shorter segments must be cleared in writing. The use of a whole song, with or without added sound bites, is completely against the rules.

Bert Baumgartner, senior vice president of Columbia Records, acknowledges that this was done without the consent of the academy, though Springsteen's representatives approved of the remix--which they say the singer has not heard. The version was put together by Columbia after several deejays around the country made their own mixes of the live performance and speech excerpts.

KIIS program director Jeff Wyatt says that he'd been airing the original version of the song about twice a day, but his listeners found it "depressing." The new version, though, with Springsteen's low-key remarks about the power of art to touch the public and Hanks' emotional speech about tolerance and love for AIDS sufferers, earned a dramatic response.

"Now we're playing it about four times a day," Wyatt says. "It grabs you in a different way. It's a pretty touching piece."

Baumgartner says there's no question that the special version helped get the song played more on stations that had resisted it--the song has become Springsteen's first Top 10 single since "Tunnel of Love" more than six years ago. But he also defends the unauthorized release on grounds that it helps spread a message.

"I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to stop it," he says. "It's still an important message as far as AIDS (awareness) is concerned."

BREAK UP, MAKE UP: One of the great romances of pop music looked as if it was on the rocks recently, but the two parties have patched things up and are once again a happy couple.

That's right, KROQ and Morrissey--the L.A. radio station and one of its longtime favorite artists--are back on good terms after a few scheduling gaffes caused KROQ deejays and fans to pour out a stream of rage against the singer recently.

The KROQers were miffed that Morrissey had postponed on short notice his scheduled April 8 concert at the Olympic Auditorium, for which the station had given away a lot of tickets. And just days before, the station had helped organize a large gathering of Morrissey fanatics at LAX to greet the arriving star, only to have him whisked away through another part of the airport.

KROQ music director Darcy Sanders says that the blow-up is over and forgotten now and that Morrissey's new "Vauxhall and I" album continues to be one of the most popular releases at the station.

Arnold Stiefel, Morrissey's manager, says that he's sorry that the fans and station were put out and promises to make it up with a special appearance by Morrissey around the time of the rescheduled Olympic date in August.

"It was unfortunate that they who were so nurturing and behind Morrissey felt the brunt of the postponement and other comedy of errors," he says.

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