It is a safe assumption to think that by now most people who listen to rock music have heard of Nirvana. This is a band which literally re-shaped the way hard rock was played and introduced the world to a brand new form of rock known as grunge. Along with a few other bands during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Nirvana paved the road for many forms of modem hard rock. Sadly, in April of 1994 Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s lead singer and guitarist, committed suicide leaving a gaping hole in the music industry. Recently, however, roughly 11 years after the tragic end of the rock super group, the existing members of the band have aided in the release of a special Nirvana collection. More precisely, a four disc box set which contains so much previously unreleased work that any die-hard Nirvana fan is currently having a fit in reaction to the amount of “new” Nirvana tunes to enjoy. Whether you’re a fan or not, however, this recent release is an incredible listen.
“With The Lights Out” is a phenomenal 4 disc collection of Nirvana music and video. The first three discs are CDs and feature 61 amazing variations of Nirvana tunes appearing in chronological order staring with material from 1987. The fourth disc is in fact a DVD, which contains 20 music videos as well as rare footage of live gigs as well as songs performed at various studio rehearsals. The first disc offers a total of 23 songs all of which are previously unreleased recordings. It offers 10 demo songs, 3 radio appearances, 5 solo acoustic songs, and 4 live songs, one of which was from Nirvana’s first ever show in 1987. Even the most avid of Nirvana fans will not have heard many of these songs as they are all extremely rare. It is truly great to be able to hear new old Nirvana material after such a long time. Rock music has certainly evolved tremendously over the past decade since Kurt’s death, yet it is so amazing to hear how energetic and new the group’s music still sounds. It is a very refreshing reminder of what excellent and “real” grunge rock sounds like. So many of the songs from the first disc are amazing that there is no reason (or time) to go into detail discussing them; however the ones that stick out as the best examples of Nirvana’s abilities are: “Anorexorcist”, “If You Must”, “Clean Up Before She Comes”, and “Ain’t it a Shame”.
The second disc features another twenty Nirvana songs including; 5 solo acoustic songs, 5 demos including one rehearsal demo, 1 rough mix. 3 outtakes, 3 radio appearances, 2 B-sides, and a Butch Vig mix of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Thirteen of the songs are previously unreleased; yet more new music! The first acoustic renditions are nothing too special, especially since only an approximate minute and half of each song were released. Also, most of the demo songs are simply old Nirvana songs before they received their final releases. The most notable tunes here are: “Here She Comes Now”, the “Breed” rough mix, “Verse Chorus Verse”, “Old Age”, “Oh The Guilt”, and “Return of the Rat”. The third and final music disc includes a mixture of eighteen live, demo, rehearsal, and solo acoustic versions of Nirvana tracks which appeared on both the “In Utero” and “Nirvana Unplugged” albums. These songs were all recorded between 1992 and 1994 shortly before Kurt’s death. The extended rehearsal demo of “Scentless Apprentice”, the “Milk It” demo, and the acoustic version of “You Know You’re Right” are especially good.
Finally we come upon the most amazing part of the release; the DVD which boats videos of twenty different songs. The first nine songs are part of a grainy home video of the band rehearsing in 1998 at bassist Krist Noviselic’s house in Aberdeen Washington. Apart from a few songs, these all appeared on Nirvana’s first album “Bleach”. The remaining eleven songs are a combination of live recordings at various studios, cafes, bars, and clubs. This is truly the best part of the box set, for it offers an in depth look not only into the birth of the grunge rock scene, but also the lives of each of the band’s members before they become international superstars.
Ultimately the new Nirvana box set “With the Lights Out” is a phenomenal release. It features a tremendous amount of music, both new and old. It is definitely an essential purchase for any Nirvana fan, and could be easily enjoyed by any lover of rock music. This is surely a good reminder of why Nirvana quickly rose to stardom and took the world by storm. They were talented, unique, and powerful musicians, whose presence was incredibly strong, both on and off the stage. Nirvana’s latest album is certainly one of the best music releases within the past decade. [ END ]
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