on 1 March 2003
I had been debating for a while how many stars I should give this. Being one of my favourite and possibly the greatest band of all time, it should get five stars no matter, right? It has all of Nirvana's hits, the inclusion of the long awaited, previously unreleased track 'You Know You're Right', and has a fantastic alternative version of 'Been A Son'. But to call this a greatest hits album would be wrong. I mean, where's 'Love Buzz', 'Oh, The Guilt', and the original 'All Apologies'? And that is why I feel I have to give this four stars.
But don't get me wrong, this is a superb album. I felt let down at first when I heard about this new release, as I had been hoping for many more previously unreleased tracks, and being the big Nirvana fan that I am, I already have most of the songs included. But on first listen I was very pleasantly surprised.
To start the album off is the long awaited 'You Know You're Right'. It was to be the final song Nirvana ever made. It has been floating around the net for a while now, but the sound quality really lets it down when compared to the album version. It's a highly powerful song, and quite a different offering from the band, which needs to be listened to in its best form for greatest effect.
The classic 'About A Girl' has been given the full 're-master' treatment. It sounds so different to the original, I thought it was an alternative version at first! Compare this to the 'Bleach' version and you'll hear the difference.
The alternative version of 'Been A Son' is in my opinion the best version. Compared to the track on 'Incesticide' it has a more relaxed and (strangely) up beat feel about it. There's less energy in Kurts voice, but even at a lower pitch he still sounds great, and the song takes on a whole different feel.
'Sliver' is 2 minutes and 15 seconds of pure, raw energy. Yes, it has been polished up and provided with a slightly more crisp and clear sound, but it's re-mastering hasn't detracted from its qualities.
This album wouldn't be complete without 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. So what can I say about it that hasn't already been said before? It made Nirvana a phenomenon, and brought alternative music to the mainstream. If you haven't heard it, where have you been?? But there were better tracks that followed that so many seemed to miss. 'Come As You Are' for instance. The ultimate 'grunge' (can I say that word?) song, and the second highlight on the incredible 'Nevermind' album. The third highlight goes to 'Lithium'. I've always felt this song was written for me. The build up to the raging chorus and all those 'yeahs' is superb. And after all these years its still enough to make a whole disfuntional generation jump, and scream out, 'Yeah!'. And last but not least 'In Bloom'. It would have been nice to see the original version from 1990 on this album, but this later version sounds just as good, and is the most recognised of the two.
'Heart-Shapped Box' leads off the 'In Utero' section of the album, and what an amazing song it is. It features some of Cobains best and somewhat darkest lyrics, and I think signalled a new direction for Nirvana's music.
Scott Litt's mix of 'Pennyroyal Tea' features next, and it sounds incredible! Kurts voice screams out in agony, but has never sounded so good. It would have been Nirvana's last single, had it been released, and could only be found on the U.S. release of 'In Utero' until now.
At first I was a bit surprised to see 'Rape Me' on this album, but then I forget how much of an anthem it became. Is it an anti-rape song as Kurt once said in an interview or, is it really a cry for help from the man himself? Whatever it may mean, this simple song came straight from the heart of Kurt Cobain.
'Dumb' in a word is beautiful, and is one of my favourite Nirvana Songs. It's the only studio accoustic song on the album, which begs the question, where is 'Polly'?
The next three songs, 'All Apologies', 'The Man Who Sold The World', and 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night', are from Nirvana's amazing live Unplugged performance for MTV. Each show a completely different side and sound to Nirvana's music. Would they have taken a more accoustic route in the future? Sadly, we will never know.
on 1 November 2002
This is the album that we've all been waiting for. It covers some of Nirvana's greatest songs, all of which are a lesson in perfection. From the haunting melodies of 'All Apologies' played at the Unplugged gig to the anthems that are 'Smells Like Tenn Spirit' and 'Come As You Are'. The loud/soft dynamic utilised in many of Nirvana's songs still holds well- meaning that the tracks are still as playable as they were on the day they were origionaly released.
Not only are Kurt's vocals and riffs memorable, but Krist's, Dave's and Chad's contributions are musical poetry.
Each track charts a time in Nirvana's history, each one offering something different to the audience, but still leaving you begging for more. Each track is a timeless classic- and the two covers from the Unplugged gig ('The Man Who Sold The World' and 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night') are incredible - there is so much emothion obviously poured into them, as with all of the music Nirvana made. You know when you listen to this album that making music was Kurt's life - and that is something he has left us to remember him by.
As for the new track- "You Know You're Right" -I think it is one of, if not the, best track that Nirvana have ever released. The lyrics, loud/soft dynamic, punchy drums and pounding bassline all build up in perfect performance to one of the most touching pieces of music I have ever heard. It gives deep insight into the relationship between Kurt and Courtney at the time- but apart from that, its great to listen to.
I highly reccomend this CD- if you're a Nirvana fan then you will want this to be completist. If you've not got any other albums, this is a good a place to start as any. Do yourself a favour today, treat yourself, buy this album.
on 9 August 2003
Since most of the previous 50 reviews have already said this is not quite a greatest hits album, I suppose I should be number 51. But in my opinion, this CD is a textbook example of Nirvana's resonance and their sound. If Kurt was still alive today, I think this is how he'd want it to be. Kurt was a big fan of Nirvana's earlier work; and subsequently was "ruined" by the success Nevermind brought him. Other reviewers have noted that songs like "About A Girl" and "Been A Son" weren't singles; and thought they didn't deserve to be here. When in fact they were singles, maybe not so much where [you] lived, and need to be here. However, since these are opinionated reviews, I will say I thought "Milk It" should've been included. But that's only because it's my favorite song.
The main reason Nirvana fans bought this CD is for "You Know You're Right". But really, if you only wanted that one new song you could've downloaded it. There have been hundreds of files floating around (whether entitled "YKYR" or "Over The Mountain"). But that's neither here nor there. Most people don't realize that rare versions of "Pennyroyal Tea" and "Been A Son" are also included. The version of "Been A Son" was never released on CD and elongates the track (from 1:54) to well over two minutes. And the single version of "Pennyroyal Tea" is just as rare. Even if you have all of Nirvana's earlier releases, those three rarities make this CD an essential. On the other hand, this is THE place to start for coming-of-age Nirvana fans who've only heard songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Heart-Shaped Box" on the radio. I love how this album captures Nirvana's brilliance. Many people cite "Dumb" as too uncharacteristic of Kurt Cobain and/or Nirvana; when really it was one of the better songs on the In Utero CD. Again (excuse my pushiness), I do think "Milk It" deserved to be here. It's such a raw song and finds Kurt Cobain speaking very outwardly about suicide. Its edginess (and usage of the word 'shxt') is probably why it never became a big hit. The unplugged versions of "All Apologies" and "The Man Who Sold The World" are certainly choice selections. I did not know "All Apologies" was unplugged when I bought this, but was surprisingly happy when I heard it. I've seen some reviews that feature "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" in the listings, but my CD does not have it. Still, that's okay; as I feel the David Bowie cover is much more appropriate.
Overall, there is not a song that isn't worthy of being here. There are a few songs that might have been good selections if it were extended to 16 or 17 songs (i.e. "Milk It", "Frances Farmer...", "Lake Of Fire"), but we as fans must take the bad with the good. And even if one of your favorite Nirvana tracks isn't here, you shouldn't knock the CD, give it three or four songs, and tell people not to buy it. This is a greatest hits as Kurt's love and inspiration (Courtney Love) deems fit. There's an excellent biography in the booklet, some cool pictures and 14 unforgettable, unbelievable songs. If you don't like one or two of these songs then you're not a true Nirvana fan. And you're just like those people who sing along to "In Bloom"; not knowing what it means. I could give this album 4 stars, but that wouldn't be fair to the band. At the end of the day, the title of this recording says it all. Buy this. And learn to love it over time... if you can't initially.
on 19 April 2003
I am too young to really remember Kurt Cobain, and the tragic events that made up his life, but this album makes me cry anyway.
Never has a band moved me so much as Nirvana. Anyway, that is enough sentimental rambling from me. On to the product!
You Know You're Right is one hell of a song, and a fantastic way to kick off this truly excellent album.
About A Girl, which definitely is about Tracey Marander,Kurts; much-loved first girlfriend, is a stunning song, with a beautiful, melodic beat to it.
Been a Son is angry, fast-moving and wild. Definitely one to scream in angst to.
Sliver is truly wonderful, and whenever I hear those opening riffs, I feel joyous.
Next comes the insanely overhyped yet wonderful song Smells Like Teen Spirit, which was to become the anthem of a generation.
Come As You Are is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion, and hauntingly melodic.
Lithium has a barrel full of attitude, and general joyous insanity echoes in it.
In Bloom is one of the heavier,though melodic songs on the album.
Heart Shaped Box is truly wonderful, and is a rather twisted love song.
PennyRoyal Tea has a wonderful quiet-loud dynamic, and interesting lyrics.
Then comes the highly controversial Rape Me. Despite this, it is a fabulous, anthemic song, and, strangely enough,an insult to the media from Cobains' heart.
All Apologies is the point that had me in tears. The song has meaningul lyrics and Kurts' vocals are breathtaking.
The Man Who Sold The World is fanbloodytastic, and despite being a cover song, it screams emotion.
Lastly comes Where Did You Sleep Last Night, which is terrific song and a moving ending to a wonderful album.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves music.
on 27 October 2002
The youngsters of today will probably have heard the name Nirvana batted around whilst reading Kerrang talking about Puddle of Mudd (cheap imitators). But few will have actually heard anything past 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. And although 'Teen Spirit' is a classic song, it hardly represents the entire catalogue of Nirvana. So at last, for all the new 'would-be' disciples, we have a definitive collection of tracks to introduce them to one of the most musically and culturally significant groups of the last decade.
Although there are some glaring omissions (Breed, Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle, Territorial Pissings, Negative Creep), this collection serves its purpose admirably. For new fans, it's the perfect introduction to Cobain's dark and mystifying world. For old fans, such as myself, it's a helpful reminder of just how great they were then and how fresh and stunning the music still sounds. The remixing of the tracks is also breathtaking, opening up the sound and making it even heavier.
'New' track 'You Know You're Right' (previously unreleased) is a fascinating number, giving us a glimpse of just where Kurt might have taken Nirvana or his own solo music. With a thrashing chorus, addictive lyrics that make you want to sing and shout along and Dave Grohl's classic machine-gun drumming, this is Nirvana in it's purest form - loud, aggressive, yet captivatingly beautiful. There is, of course, a hint of tragedy in the lyrics ('No thought was put into this / I always knew it'd come to this') with a similar self-fulfilling prophecy style that Richey Edwards demonstrated on the Manic Street Preachers' 1994 album 'The Holy Bible'. But for the last song they recorded together, despite personal issues and tension within the group, it shows that Nirvana were certainly losing nothing in talent and that they could still play incredibly tightly together.
A great album for beginners, a healthy reminder to disciples. Buy it!!
on 13 May 2004
Nirvana's greatest hits package takes you from their debut album "Bleach", 1989, through to their "MTV unplugged" performance,1995.It inevitably includes "Smells like teen spirit" but also has a couple of covers- David Bowie's "the man who sold the world".
The album shows off Kurt's musical ability by including the Beatle-esque love song "About a girl". It also has the rawer flavour of "Rape me" from the album "In utero", 1993. The last few songs taken from "MTV unplugged" have Kurt proving that he can do acoustic just as well. "Where did you sleep last night?", a Leadbelly cover, tugs at your heart as you can hear the vulnerability in Kurt's voice.
Most importantly, the album includes the much anticipated, never-before-released, "You know your right". Kurt screams out the word "pain" in his trademark howl and turns the word into a whole chorus. You can see in this song that he wasn't exactly a "happy bunny" and you wonder why no-one picked up on it, therefore possibly changing the tragic outcome.
on 18 May 2004
ok, thousands of Nirvana fans (including me) are disappointed by this compilation. If you're new to Nirvana then great, get this CD! If you've been a devoted fan for a while you'll know what I'm talking about. There are lots more phenomenal songs they could have put on the CD such as "Aneurysm", "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle" and the live MTV version of "About A Girl" rather than the album version. There is one rare song "You Know You're Right" which I had never heard before and it totally blew me away, it kind of sums up Kurt Cobain's life, personality and feelings into 3 minutes. But I think they just put that one on to get the fans to but it. If you've got all the albums it will just be on your shelf gathering dust and looking pretty.
Don't be put off though, if you're new to the band and haven't heard the songs on it it's a must, but for me (and others) I think the distributors could have done a LOT, LOT better.
on 20 June 2003
Nirvana's music is full of contradictions and this was enshrined in the life of its creator, Kurt Cobain. How do you define his music? - is it masculine or feminine, popular or punk, gentle or abrasive, self-affirming or demeaning? Maybe it could be everything at once? Some people dismiss Cobain as nothing but a loser/slacker who got chosen to represent the estranged Generation X. These critics have underestimated the life of an extremely passionate and sensitive man, who ultimately suffered from his own success. Cobain saw music as a deeply personal way of releasing his artistic energy, a point that Krist Novoselic would later clarify in his eulogy. As a result, this "loser" from Seattle has revolutionised an entire industry and bridged the gap between seemingly incompatible genres. Unfortunately, his impact was nearly as short-lived as The Sex Pistols. Cobain's Faustus-like decline is epitomised in the brooding "All Apologies", a song about the impermanence of time and the worthlessness that lies at the heart of the human condition. Nirvana's last days would end in a similarly tragic way.
"Nirvana" (2003) is a compilation of the group's finest moments. Cobain's songwriting is beautiful and poignant, as shown on the poetic "Lithium", the majestic "Pennyroryal Tea" and the awe-inspiring "Heart Shaped Box". Other tracks are more cathartic, such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "In Bloom" and "Rape Me". "Sliver" and "About A Girl" are autobiographical pop tunes, while "Come As You Are" is a subdued plea for honesty and companionship. The unplugged recordings show Cobain's more sensitive side and his preoccupation with the innocence of the Meat Puppets. "You Know You're Right" (previously called "On A Mountain") is a welcome addition and adds some bite to Nirvana's catalogue. My only complaint is that I'd much rather see the explosive "Tourette's" and "Aneurysm" instead of "Dumb" and "Been A Son". Still, this is a solid and accurate collection of Nirvana's greatest hits.
Despite the strength of this album, there is still a vast amount of unreleased material to be dealt with. These hidden gems include Alcohol, Anorexorcist, Bambi Slaughter/Bambi Kill, Beans, Blandest, D7, Even In His Youth, Oh the Guilt, Opinion, Pen Cap Chew, Return of the Rat, Token Eastern Song and Verse Chorus Verse. There are also a variety of demos, covers and alternate versions not to mention B-sides such as Marigold, Moist Vagina, and Curmudgeon. Nirvana also produced a wealth of material with John Peel on the BBC Sessions. These brilliant remakes are helped by Dave Grohl's explosive drumming and are available on the "Eternal Legacy" bootleg. Hopefully, Geffen will release a boxset that includes this material - remastered and accompanied with a biography/catalogue. If you can't wait for a posthumous collection then you can get most of these tracks on the infamous Outcesticide series, which is now available on an official CD-ROM. Other rarities are available on the unofficial KAOS demo and "Out Of The Blue".
Nirvana are some what of an odd band, simultaneously lauded and lashed out at. Personally, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle; commercially, they sold millions and they cannot be underestimated. Artistically, while I don't think they were quite as good as some may claim they are, a lot of Kurt Cobain's writing was witty, dark, funny and used discordant chord progressions that other people probably wouldn't be able to get away with.
As with any best-of, the tracklisting is dubious, and most fans would probably tack on or take out their favourite or least favourite song. But the truth is, this album sensibly balances between the band's three LPs, the astonishing Unplugged CD, and the new song, 'You Know You're Right.'
What a song it is. A three minute distillation of all that made Nirvana thrilling, it's an all but live recording that comes across like an adrenaline rush.
And of course, the rest of the disc is mostly timeless. The babysitting hell of 'Sliver'; the slow grunge of 'In Bloom'; the Killing Joke aping 'Come As You Are;' the deliciously dark 'Heart Shaped Box'.
In my opinion the two true shivers-down-spine moments on this disc are: firstly, the inclusion of 'About A Girl.' I think this is the best song Cobain ever wrote. A comparitively little known song next to their catalogue's ubiquity, they opened their Unplugged show with it and it's always been my favourite.
Secondly, the version of 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' is truly chilling, his voice is so wracked, his performance so moving. It's truly proof of why he is idolised by so many, and yet also despised by the same number.
If you're interested in this band, but not enough to get all their albums, this is the compilation for you. If you only get one...
on 2 January 2003
It's impossible to review this compilation without making some reference to the tracks that were ommitted. But to ignore exactly what is left on the CD would a heinous crime. Certainly it is the poppier side of Nirvana, that cannot be argued, and as someone who enjoyed the heavier, darker side of Nirvana I was slightly disappointed to see the likes of 'Aneurysm', 'Milk It' and certainly 'Scentless Apprentice' left out. However, what is left on the album is exemplifies Nirvana's genius.
The album begins with the much-discussed 'You Know You're Right'. Discounting the nostalgia of hearing a new Nirvana track, it remains a great song. Full of the angst and raw energy that Cobain was having trouble holding onto towards the end of his tragically short life.
'About A Girl' is next up and this new remastered version sounds incredible. It was a very good track before, now it is truly remarkable. It remains the standout track from Nirvana's debut release. The alternate version of 'Been A Son' barely sounds the same as the original vinyl version or as the track from the BBC sessions that found its way onto 'Incesticide'. Novoselic's bass solo in the middle of the track is worth £10 of anyone's money. 'Sliver' completes the first portion of the album, the story of Cobain's unhappy visit to his Grandparent's was never my favourite Nirvana song, and for me is the weak link on this LP. I would have liked to have heard 'Love Buzz' or 'Spank Thru' complete the triolgy from Nirvana's early years. Nevertheless, the track highlights Nirvana's raw energy and punkier side when surrounded by some of their poppier work.
It's unlikely that anyone will need any introduction to the following four tracks. The selection from 'Nevermind' would always cause controversy, and everyone will bemoan the lack of one or two tracks (I would have liked 'Drain You' to make an appearance), but no one can deny that 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', 'Come As You Are', 'Lithium' and 'In Bloom' summarise the LP as well as any of the notable exceptions ('Polly', 'Breed', 'Something In The Way').
As 'In Utero' is my favourite Nirvana album I was again disappointed not to see my very favourite Nirvana track 'Scentless Apprentice' make the cut, but what replaces it is hardly lackluster. 'Heart-Shaped Box' was a bolt from the blue upon its original release and the lyrics remain as harrowing to this day. The Scott Litt mix of 'Pennyroyal Tea' is just beautiful. 'Rape Me' and 'Dumb' fittingly conclude the 'In Utero' contributions as they are two of the finest songs Cobain would write.
The three final tracks ('All Apologies', 'The Man Who Sold The World' and 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night') are taken from the 'MTV Unplugged' LP. As Cobain screams the finale of Huddie Ledbetter's 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' any music fan's hairs on the back of their neck should be well and truly on end.
Like many Nirvana fans, I didn't whole-heartedly agree with the track-listing but every track on this album is utterly, utterly brilliant. No self respecting music fan should be without this collection.