Thursday, 2 January 2003

Album Review: Nirvana

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.

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