Nirvana: Nirvana – [Record 203]

Nirvana is a “best-of” compilation album by the American grunge band Nirvana, released in October 2002 and re-released on Friday the 13th of November 2015.

Record One. Side One.
1, You Know You’re Right.
2, About a Girl.
3, Been a Son.
4, Sliver.

Record One. Side Two.
5, Smells Like Teen Spirit.
6, Come as You Are.
7, Lithium.

Record Two. Side One.
8, In Bloom.
9, Heart-Shaped Box.
10, Pennyroyal Tea.

Record Two. Side Two.
11, Rape Me.
12, Dumb.
13, All Apologies.
14, The Man Who Sold the World.

Background: Nirvana was released following the settlement of a long-standing legal dispute between Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, and surviving Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl. Much of the dispute centered around the song “You Know You’re Right” which was recorded during the band’s final studio session, in January 1994. Novoselic and Grohl had wanted to release it on a long-delayed Nirvana rarities box set. However, Love blocked the song’s release, and sued Novoselic and Grohl over control of Nirvana’s legacy. Love’s lawsuit maintained that “You Know You’re Right” was a “potential ‘hit’ of extraordinary artistic and commercial value.” She believed that “You Know You’re Right” would be “wasted” on a box set, and instead belonged on a single-disc compilation similar to The Beatles’ 1. In September 2002, it was announced by the Nirvana camp that the lawsuit had been settled, and that “You Know You’re Right” would be released on “Nirvana, a one-CD history of the band.”

Release: Nirvana was the third Nirvana album to be released following the death of singer/ guitarist Kurt Cobain in April 1994, and the first to feature studio material. The first track on the album is “You Know You’re Right” which was also released as a downloadable single. The only song to appear from Nirvana’s 1989 debut album Bleach is “About a Girl”. Bleach producer Jack Endino saw “About a Girl” as a potential single and the song was later released as a single from the MTV Unplugged in New York album in 1994. The song “Been a Son” was originally a B-side from Nirvana’s 1989 Blew EP, which itself was only a limited release in the United Kingdom, making the song a rarity. Nirvana’s 1990 non-album single “Sliver” which was their last Nirvana only release on the Sub Pop label is the fourth track on the album.

The four commercially released singles from 1991’s Nevermind album (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Come as You Are”, “Lithium” and “In Bloom”) are all included, as are three singles from 1993’s In Utero album (“Heart-Shaped Box”, “Pennyroyal Tea” and “Rape Me”). The version of “Pennyroyal Tea” that is included is a remixed version which was planned as a single in March 1994 from the In Utero album, however due to Cobain’s death the single was recalled shortly after its release making this remixed version rare and hard to find until its inclusion on Nirvana. Also included is “Dumb” which was an album track from In Utero.

Two tracks from Nirvana’s 1994 MTV Unplugged in New York album (“All Apologies” and “The Man Who Sold the World”) are included, both of which had been released as promotional singles from the Unplugged album. Vinyl and Japanese CD versions of the album include two bonus tracks both from the MTV Unplugged in New York album; “Something in the Way”, which had been a B-side to the “About a Girl” single and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” which had been released as a promotional single from the Unplugged album. On CD versions of the album released outside of the US and Japan, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is the only bonus track.

The album opened at #3 on the Billboard 200 with 234,000 copies sold. It has sold one million copies in the United States, and has sold 2 million copies in Europe as of 2007.

The album contains liner notes by music journalist David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine.

On June 23, 2015 Universal Music Enterprises announced that Nirvana was being re-released on 45rpm double LP, pressed on 200-gram heavy weight vinyl and packaged in a furnace black gatefold sleeve with liner notes and a digital download card for 96 kHz 24-bit HD Audio; as well as a 33 RPM single LP 150-gram standard weight vinyl edition which will feature a download card for 320kbit/s MP4 audio. It will also be released as a Blu-Ray Pure Audio in high resolution 96 kHz 24-bit, available in three stereo audio formats: PCM, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD stereo. It was finally released, after many delays on November, 13th 2015.

Reception: Several critics believed that Nirvana was too brief, and omitted key tracks. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that “the presence of a few more tracks, along with placing “You Know You’re Right” at the end where it belongs, would have made this collection not just stronger, but possibly definitive. As it stands, it feels like a bit of a cheap compromise and a wasted opportunity.” Will Bryant of Pitchfork praised the album as “an artful selection of the band’s most seminal material,” but also dismissed it as “a party mix for parents who want to appreciate Cobain’s Lennon-esque knack for great melodies without having to click past “Scentless Apprentice” or “Territorial Pissings”…utterly inoffensive: an impulse buy from Columbia House, perhaps, with no more artistic value than The Eagles’ Greatest Hits or the Beatles’ 1.”

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