White Whale Vinyl: Nirvana's Debut Single Will Drain You (And Your Wallet) | Revolver

White Whale Vinyl: Nirvana's Debut Single Will Drain You (And Your Wallet)

Rare "Love Buzz" Sub Pop 7-inch goes for thousands
nirvana 1989 GETTY bleach, Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images
photograph by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

Our weekly column "White Whale Vinyl" spotlights the most sought-after rare vinyl in the heavy-music universe. Shop for vinyl, including a selection of limited-edition Revolver-exclusive variants, via our store.

In late 1988, the fledgling Seattle label Sub Pop had just a handful of releases on its books, but they included some heavy hitters: The debut singles from Soundgarden and Mudhoney, not to mention an EP from Green River, a band that featured future members of Pearl Jam and ill-fated shooting stars Mother Love Bone. In November of that year, the label introduced the Sub Pop Singles Club, a subscription service that would mail a new single to subscribers each month. The first single in the series also happened to be the debut of a new Seattle band called Nirvana.

Nirvana's first step toward global superstardom featured a cover of "Love Buzz," a song by the late Sixties/early Seventies Dutch rock band Shocking Blue, on the A side, with the original "Big Cheese" on the flip. On the sleeve, ringleader and future grunge icon Kurt Cobain credits himself as "Kurdt Kobain," a variation he would also employ on the 1992 Nirvana compilation Incesticide. It's worth noting that a slightly different mix of "Love Buzz" would appear on Nirvana's full-length debut, Bleach, which the band started recording less than a month after the single was released.

nirvana love buzz single 1988

Pressed in a limited edition of 1,000 hand-numbered copies and an additional 200 unnumbered promo copies, the "Love Buzz" single goes for big bucks today. According to Discogs, the median sale price for one of these prized grunge artifacts is $2,755. The highest recorded Discogs sale price is $3,998.99, and — as of this writing — there's one going for nearly $5,000 from a seller in Italy. There's also someone selling what they claim is Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt's personal copy of the test press for $14,999.95 on eBay. Either way, you'll end up shelling out if you want this crucial piece of rock & roll history.