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by Paul Rutherford

Well, Nirvana fans - it looks like the endless legal wrangling and backbiting between Courtney Love and the surviving members of Nirvana has finally been resolved, and now the fans can reach their own state of Nirvana, right? Dave Grohl’s doing all right for himself with his Foo Fighters; but could it be that Krist Novoselic’s inability to find post-Nirvana success with his projects (Sweet 75, Eyes Adrift), coupled with the fact of Hole’s demise and Courtney Love’s complete failure as an actress since her fluke performance in that Larry Flynt flick, have made them realize that it’s time to milk their cash cow (the Nirvana catalog) and give the fans what they have been waiting for – the definitive box set? Wrong! Wrong, wrong, sadly wrong. 

Instead, we get this CD - just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy, because after all, cash is cash, and that’s what Courtney wants from you. This is simply a collection of music that any true Nirvana fan already owns, with the generous inclusion of one (yes, count ‘em - one!) unreleased studio track from supposedly Kurt Cobain’s last session before his alleged suicide in April 1994 - “You Know You’re Right”. Of course, the question of whether Nirvana even merited a “greatest hits” package is debatable. Yes, they were a fine band, but they only released two major studio albums. Usually, a band puts out a compilation after they have scored several hits over the course of many albums. 

Naturally, it’s really a way for the band and its label to score more cash by trying to get fans to purchase songs they already have for a second time (or third or fourth in the cases of Aero$mith and KI$$), but this type of compilation is also a benefit to the new or casual fan, who can get the meat of the band’s output without having to fork out for every album. Sadly, there won’t be any truly new releases from Nirvana. 

So what do you get for your $20, then? The opening track “You Know You’re Right” is the only “new” song here. It follows the tried-and-true Cobain formula - soft verses, blitzkrieg chorus, soft, heavy, soft. It’s not a bad tune. I hated it at first, because the hype left me hoping for so much more, but coming out of the radio speakers after a steady diet of mallcore and Fred Durst, it hits like a blast of fresh grunge/punk... well - Nirvana. But is it worth $20? More on that later.

The rest of the disc contains the four bona fide hits from Nevermind, along with "Heart Shaped Box" from In Utero, and "The Man Who Sold The World" and "All Apologies" off of Unplugged.  Hey!  Wait! - I’ve got a new complaint.  That’s only eight songs. Can’t charge $20 for that.  So they’ve added "Rape Me" and "Dumb", two songs that were minor rock radio hits, and the excellent "Pennyroyal Tea".  But here is where some fans are complaining about the selection.  Where‘s "Polly", "Love Buzz", or "School"?  Surely Nirvana had better tracks than "Sliver", no?  The tracks have also been remastered, which was of interest to this reviewer, because Kurt himself has been quoted as saying he felt "Pennyroyal Tea" could have been a hit if it was mixed better, an opinion I share.  Well, from what I heard of the track, there seems to be not much of a difference.

"So it is worth your $20, then?"

My answer is a resounding “No!”, with one exception. If you are a 12-year-old kid who‘s just getting into Nirvana; and Daddy and Mommy got divorced, the phone‘s getting shut off, and money’s so tight that your meager allowance will only let you buy one CD this holiday season - then go ahead and buy this CD. It’s a decent enough introduction to the genius of Kurt Cobain. But if you have no money troubles - you would be far better off just spending the price of two CDs and picking up Nevermind and In Utero. You’ll get nine of the songs off this CD, plus you’ll have great songs like “Breed”, “On A Plain”, and all the other good ones they did.

To those who are already fans and have the albums: You’re nuts if you buy this, absolutely insane. Just go download “YKYR” and screw Courtney. (Ooh, the little Lars in my ear says , “No, no - buy = good. Download = bad!” Well, screw him too). Whether downloading hurts artists or not is a topic for another discussion but my two cents is that if the label wants people to buy a product like this then they should have made it a better product. Simply tacking one song onto a bunch of songs Nirvana fans already own is a joke.  Adding some more Bleach songs would have made this a nice little compilation for someone who didn’t feel like burning their own mix collection.  A far better way would have been to release "YKYR" as a CD single for maybe $3.99, with something like  "Verse Chorus Verse" or "In His Hands" as bonus tracks, as a little appetizer for the hopefully forthcoming box.  But no, the greed machine milks that cow as hard as it can, so that’s why I say thumbs down to Nirvana’s "Nirvana". 

CD Info 

Nirvana - Nirvana 
Label: Geffen
You Know You're Right 
About A Girl 
Been A Son 
Smells Like Teen Spirit 
Come As You Are 
In Bloom 
Heart-Shaped Box 
Pennyroyal Tea 
Rape Me 
All Apologies 
The Man Who Sold The World
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