NFC Nirvana Information Nirvana: With The Lights Out

Welcome to a comprehensive section of NFC opened in November, 2004.

This section aims to collect a bunch of material (photos, sound clips, information and much more) related to the 2004 Nirvana box set With The Lights Out. Below you can jump to the various parts of this section. Enjoy!

  • Timeline: History of the box
  • Box set tracklisting and sound clips
  • Official promo photos
  • Box set trailer
  • Box set reviews
  • Box set review by NFC
  • Box set artwork
  • MTV2 DVD Special
  • What should come next?
  • Box set lyrics
  • Miscellaneous

    Click here if you'd like to buy Nirvana's With The Lights Out.

    Last update: November 5, 2005.

    This timeline looks back on some of the events that occured from the moment that plans of a Nirvana box set were first conceived, to the actual release some eight years later. As you will see, it is a long and quite bumpy road ...

    July, 1996: The concept of a box set was first conceived all the way back in 1996, as documented by court documents which would surface over the summer of 2001, following legal battles between Nirvana (Krist & Dave) and Courtney Love.

    Apparently, a contract was signed in 1996 which addresses the box set. "You [Nirvana] agree to Deliver to Geffen a so-called 'boxed set' Multiple Record LP comprised of no less than forty-five (45) Masters embodying previously unreleased recordings of musical performances by Artist, so-called 'B-sides,' and other Masters (the 'Boxed Set'). You shall Deliver the Boxed Set to Geffen no later than June 30, 2001 . . . " More.

    An article by Krist Novoselic that he put on his website, also in June 2001, says that the contract (concerning the box set) was actually signed in 1998. He further writes that he began compiling recordings for the box at this time. A November 23 2004 article from the Seattle Times confirms that the parties began working on the box over the summer of 1998. More.

    April, 1997: In an issue of VOX, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl is asked whether 1996's live album From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah was 'the full stop on the Nirvana story' to which he replied, "it's probably not the last thing you're ever gonna see from Nirvana." More.

    August, 1997: Wall of Sound reports that a Nirvana box is on the horizon: "just don't look for it anytime soon. Bassist Krist Novoselic--now working with his new band, Sweet 75-- says the Nirvana box will probably be out 'in three or four years or something.' He and drummer turned Foo Fighter Dave Grohl are contemplating a series of alternate takes, B-sides, and other material that could fill several discs and even surprise fans who have earnestly collected the plethora of Nirvana bootlegs.

    'There's some stuff you won't find on bootlegs or anywhere that's really hidden away, just songs we've kept under wraps,' Novoselic says. 'There's a few songs that are really good that nobody's ever heard. I don't even know if they have titles --stuff like If You Must. You'll just have to wait and see.' Novoselic admits there's not enough material in the vaults for another 'great' Nirvana album; he sees the box set as something for fans who 'have the patience to listen to alternate takes and more obscure stuff.'

    'There are so many rabid Nirvana fans,' he says. 'I can't believe some of the stuff that people have obtained.' And while the wait for the box set may seem interminable to those people, Novoselic promises that their patience will be rewarded. 'The advantage of waiting for a few years is the way technology is developing. There's the potential for DVD; we can put out three or four CDs, and they'll have audio and video and interactive.' "
    More.

    February, 1998: The Stranger, a Seattle entertainment and politics rag, receives a tape in the mail that reportedly contains the March 1991 boom-box demos recorded for Butch Vig before he began working on Nirvana's Nevermind album. The tape contains the song Old Age. The Stranger decides to put up a clip of the song on their website - though it is quickly removed again. As of late 2004, a complete recording of this very performance had still not been made available, and it remains one of the most highly wanted tapes. With The Lights Out ultimately releases the song in November 2004, though not the same version that The Stranger uncovered in 1998. More.

    The clip of Old Age that The Stranger put up can be downloaded here (converted to MP3).

    April, 1999: Record Collector magazine publishes a message from Nirvana's UK publicist who assures to the magazine that "Geffen has plans to release a set of rarities on interactive CD-Roms, adding that bassist Krist Novoselic has confided that 'the best things they ever recorded' in the studio remain unreleased."

    Also, NME publishes an article that reads in part: "The long-awaited NIRVANA box set of unreleased tracks and rare recordings is set to be released sometime in the new millennium, possibly 2001. Ex-Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic posted a message on his website last week confirming that the project was finally going ahead.

    He said: 'We are compiling material for a future release. We don't have a date yet. Until the project starts shaping up, there isn't much more to say.' " More.

    The post from Krist was also used in an MTV news story published this month which added: "our source tells us the box could be out before the end of the year." More.

    Also around this time, the Rolling Stone story Don't expect Nirvana box set before 2001 hits the web. It reads in part; "work is progressing on the project. As expected, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is overseeing the project. He's tapped Seattle journalist Gillian G. Gaar to help after being impressed by her Goldmine article two years ago, in which she cataloged all the extant Nirvana recordings." More.

    September, 1999: Kerrang! and Melody Maker in the UK get some comments from Dave Grohl on the box set: "they're working on a box-set but I don't know exactly what's going on with it. Someone else is compiling all the material and rounding up some pretty obscure stuff I didn't even know existed. Nirvana was a band 3-4 years before I ever joined and I think there's some really weird old shit that people would be very entertained to hear. I know that the last song we ever recorded will probably be on there. I don't know what they're calling it, I don't even know if there ever was a title. I think it might be called I know you're right" The song Dave is referring to is, of course, You Know You're Right. This song was eventually released on the 2002 best-of album, Nirvana. More.

    October, 1999: Producer Adam Kasper, who worked on Nirvana's last studio session, comments on the box set: "Nirvana's last recorded song which had languished undiscovered among unfinished works by the band captures the Seattle trio in a 'grungier' and 'screamier' mood than their previous final singles, according to the song's producer."

    From the same article: "Regarding a release date or track listing for the Nirvana box set, 'Nothing at all is set even in wet concrete,' Geffen Records spokesperson Dennis Dennehy said Friday. Dennehy said the multi-CD collection is being worked on, but he didn't know what will be included or when the collection will be released. 'We always make time to get [Nirvana work] done,' Grohl was reported to have said. 'But at the same time, it's nice to look forward to something rather than ... digging through a library of a past that you miss or that was so great.' " More.

    November, 1999: The November 1999 issue of Rolling Stone confirms that the box set has been in production since, at least, early 1997: "[Dave] Grohl admitted that he hasn't been too hands-on with the project, with the majority of work being done by former Nirvana bassist, Krist Novoselic, and Seattle rock journalist Gillian G. Gaar. Critics insisted that 1996's live album From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah wasn't the great lost Nirvana album since there were no unheard gems to add to the catalog, leaving the door open for the box set. While there is no release date, no title, nor track listing, the good news is that work is progressing. When contacted, Gaar confirmed that the process is moving forward, albeit slowly and thoroughly. She has been combing through tapes for the past year and a half." More.

    December, 1999: The December 1999 issue of Mojo magazine mentions that Nevermind outtakes including Old Age and Song in D are being considered for the box set which is still "far off" at this point, according to a source that the magazine speaks to. More.

    January, 2000: Dave Grohl comments that the box would be out in 2000: "I'm not exactly sure when it's going to [be] finished or what's on it, but I know that it's in the works. Last time I talked to Krist Novoselic we talked about it, and I guess it will be released sometime in the year 2000." More.

    February, 2000: In the February 2000 issue of a French magazine, Dave comments that his song Marigold will be included on the box set. "It's as much Nirvana as Foo Fighters." More.

    March, 2000: Throughout the first half of 2000, Dave repeated in a number of interviews that the box would most likely be out by the end of the year. During an appearance on the Swedish talk show "Sen kvšll med Luuk" he is asked about the box and reports that it would include "the last song we ever recorded", which is You Know You're Right as mentioned earlier. More.

    Also in March, I put up a poll where people could vote for the recording they would most like to see included with the box set. More.

    April, 2000: A source informs me that Ain't It A Shame from "The Jury" sessions in 1989 would possibly be included with the box set. More.

    May, 2000: Around this time, the band started eyeing a September 2001 release date for the box, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of their landmark album, Nevermind. Krist Novoselic comments to LAUNCH Media:

    "'There's a lot of stuff. I can't believe how many live shows there are, how many outtakes there are, alternate versions, jams, and videotapes,' he says. 'Not everything's gonna make on there, so we're just kinda gauging it and see what would best represent Nirvana; because, you know, I feel like a boxed set should be encyclopedic, and it should be for the serious fan and for, you know, the not-so-serious fan. So, it's gonna be something there for everybody.' Novoselic adds, 'Sometimes I feel like I'm going into the past, but I know that people really want it and they really miss it, so if I can put time and heart and soul into it, then that's the least I can do.' " More.

    June, 2000: In the June 3, 2000 edition of Kerrang! magazine they report that, indeed, the box set will be released in September 2001. They use the same Krist interview as above, though, for their story. More.

    July, 2000: This month, an interview I conducted with Gillian G. Gaar was put online. Among other things, she confirmed that she is helping Krist compile the box set (as Rolling Stone reported in 1999) and that it was, as of February 2000, in it's early stages. More.

    Also by this month, the result of the poll (see March, 2000) was ready. The recording that received the most votes was the 3/94 session at Kurt's house which yielded a song called Do Re Mi (aka. Dough, Ray and Me). The 1/94 session in Seattle and the fabled Fecal Matter Demo were number two and three on the list, respectively. More.

    August, 2000: During a Foo Fighters interview, Dave is again asked about the box set: "Krist and I are slowly getting there. You gotta remember, I was their 6th drummer, so there's a lot of stuff there from Flipper and Scratch Acid that even I hadn't heard of before. There's also the final track we recorded, as a demo, before Kurt's death. It's definitely stuff that should come out. But we want to round up as much material as we can, to make it more interesting. Earlier this year I had thought maybe it'd be out by Christmas, I'm not sure now." More.

    February, 2001: By this time, no news on the box has surfaced for a while and trouble is looming. On the message board at the official Hole website (Courtney Love's band at the time), she said (among other things): "To clarify; Nirvana is mine. And by some fluke, those two [Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl] have some say, which I'm revoking. There are amazing Nirvana songs no-one's ever heard in my little storage box that [Hole bassist] Eric Erlandson collected from around the house, and they are amazing. Four are beyond good - so I hope to have them out for the kids soon, but those two can't have any say whatsoever."

    Shortly after this, SonicNet reports that Courtney is working on putting out an album of unreleased Nirvana songs on the record label Epitaph: "Love controls the catalog of Nirvana, who were led by her late husband, Kurt Cobain. 'There are amazing songs that Kurt wrote and recorded that no one has ever heard. I can't wait to put these recordings out,' she said. 'Of course, Universal had also threatened to destroy the Nirvana catalog by not releasing these unheard songs.' " Ultimately, this album never happened. More.

    March, 2001: Another message board posting from Courtney that read in part: "Eric is the person solely responsible for going around the house after KC died and grabbing all the tapes. Eric is the one who got the 109 tapes and then sat on them for the last five years." Also in March 2001, Dave tells reporters that he's still working on the Nirvana box set. More.

    April, 2001: More posts from Courtney. She mentions that she is suing Krist and Dave and dissolving the Nirvana partnership: "Can't release the box-set kids. It'll have a self portarit of Melissa [Dave Grohl's girlfriend at the time] on the cover, and the first song will be Marigold. It will have a picture of Krist and Dave, and Kurt will be blotted out. The songs on it will get sold to Nissan commercials. Anyone think From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah was really well done? Yeah, well, I didn't and it was a disaster, and I can't let that happen again." Trouble, indeed.

    June, 2001: This is the month that really changed everything. All information about the box set up until now can pretty much be disregarded as the planned September 2001 release of the box set was halted, following Courtney Love suing Krist and Dave by filing an injunction to prevent the release of You Know You're Right. Let's start from the beginning.

    On June 13 it was reported that her lawsuit against Universal Music was falling apart, after a Superior Court judge had denied 11 of the 15 clauses of action that Courtney had filed. More.

    Then, on June 28, the Seattle Times publish the story Band-mates, widow fight over Cobain's final song. The article reads, in part: "A King County Superior Court judge has granted Love an injunction against the song You Know You're Right's release as part of a 45-track Nirvana box set commemorating the 10th anniversary of the band's groundbreaking Nevermind album. Love and the surviving members of the band are facing off in court over control of a studio recording of the song, the box set and, ultimately, the legacy of the group itself."

    In short, the June 11 verdict granted Courtney's motion in part:


    a) Grohl & Novoselic are prohibited from destroying or otherwise modifying Nirvana recordings.
    b) Grohl & Novoselic are prohibited from releasing the song You Know You're Right. More.

    This effectively halted the planned box set which was probably more or less completed by this stage, as a June 30 deadline had been set by Nirvana's record label, Geffen (see July, 1996).

    While all this went down, I was running a poll on the main page of NFC which asked who should be in control of the next Nirvana release. Krist and Dave got 76% of the votes ... Courtney 6%. The poll was quoted in several news stories at the time, concerning the legal battle between the parties. More.

    July, 2001: Rumours (mostly fueled by Courtney) started to circulate that a large number of Kurt Cobain cassette tapes are sitting in a vault. MTV reports: "As Courtney Love and Nirvana's surviving members face off in a legal battle over the band's legacy, 120 tapes of unreleased material featuring Kurt Cobain sit in a vault - and that's where they'll remain, says a source close to the Cobain estate, until Nirvana's record company gives the band a better deal. The collection includes recordings of the late singer alone as well as tapes of the band throughout its career, including Nirvana's first show in Seattle in April 1988 [sic], four-track basement demos, bedroom tapes of Cobain singing and strumming on new songs as well as embryonic versions of classics like All Apologies, and the band's last complete recording, You Know You're Right. Also among the unreleased material is a song called Opinion, on which Cobain responds 'to everyone having an opinion on his medical condition,' according to the source." The same story also comments on the legal battle, saying that Love was not only intending to stop the release of You Know You're Right but indeed the entire box set, as well as dissolving the Nirvana, L.L.C. partnership. More.

    August, 2001: This month, the poll asking who should be in charge of the next Nirvana release ultimately ended after some 12,500 votes (also see June, 2001). Some 79% (almost 10,000 people) voted for Krist and Dave while Courtney only received 5% of the votes. More.

    Also released this month, the October 2001 issue of Spin magazine which had an extensive Nirvana feature. "With a lawsuit Love filed in May against Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, her partners in Nirvana L.L.C., she is seeking to dissolve the company and demands that complete control over Nirvana business be granted to her and her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Until the case is settled, the box set will remain on hold." More.

    September, 2001: Issued this month, October 2001's Guitar World includes a lengthy article on the legal battle. It explains how the Nirvana L.L.C. partnership operated and went into the whole business side of Nirvana. "While the issue of who controls Nirvana is still being decided by a court, the parties are working on an out of court agreement that will see the release in the meantime of the often-talked about Nirvana box set. Universal has planned the set for the late fall, and most observers predict that it should still arrive by then." More.

    October, 2001: This month, the legal battle escalated even further as Courtney love sued Universal Music for control of Nirvana's master recordings. "Her suit, filed Friday in Superior Court in Los Angeles, claims that Geffen Records is not the same label Nirvana signed to in 1991, due to its acquisition by Vivendi Universal, and that therefore the band's contract is void. Love also alleges that Universal cheated Nirvana out of $3.1 million in royalties." More.

    November, 2001: Courtney gives the British NME access to the unreleased Nirvana track, You Know You're Right. They promptly publish their assessment of the song and mention that a 12-track 'Introduction to Nirvana' album is apparently underway (featuring this song). More.

    Also, NBC's 'Access Hollywood' airs a clip of the song right before an interview with Love. More.

    December, 2001: This would be the month where the battle between the parties really turned into a nasty little mudsling fest. During the final hours of November, this site is even invited to the party. In a comment about NFC's discussion board users, Courtney Love fumes (in part): "Get your shit together or let's wait for a generation here. It would be better business and more astute management to put out a rarities record - not a 90-dollar boxset. A rarities record of shit YOU'VE never ever heard. And be grateful I played you what I did on TV tonight [the 'Access Hollywood' special], because unless Krist and Dave get the vast amount of cash THEY are demanding, you won't be hearing it - and even then - it's not coming out on Interscope." Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, aye? It gets worse - just stay tuned. More.

    Later this month, Krist and Dave launch their own lawsuit against Courtney. "[On Wednesday] the remaining members of the grunge band Nirvana sued Love, accusing the widow of bandmate Kurt Cobain of trying to seize control of the trio's recordings for her own financial gain. 'Dealing with Courtney is like getting stuck on a mean street where somebody is always trying to pull a cheap hustle on you. It's an indignity,' Novoselic said in an interview. 'We're just holding our noses through this whole thing.'

    Love, the suit says, was not involved in, or in any way responsible for, the success of Nirvana. 'Frankly, we're sick of Courtney trying to paste herself into Nirvana's legacy,' Novoselic said. 'She doesn't have a clue how we worked together.' 'There is only one reason that the box set never came out and her name is Courtney Love,' Novoselic said. 'It has nothing to do with the music. It's all about Courtney, the Hollywood mover and shaker, trying to exclude Dave and me to further her own future, to fuel her own career--at the expense of everything that Nirvana worked so hard to create.' Novoselic and Grohl say Love is using the band's legacy as a bargaining chip to increase leverage for her own personal gain. 'This is all about what benefits Courtney,' he said. 'She could care less about what happens to Nirvana or our fans.' "
    More.

    It doesn't end here. The same day as the above story surfaced, Krist and Dave published an open letter to Nirvana's fans. The first and so far only time this has ever happened to my knowledge. It reads, in part:

    "As many of you know, for this Christmas, we had planned to give our fans a wonderful gift -- a boxed set of the best of Nirvana's music. Released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Nevermind, the set was going to include You Know You're Right, recorded in 1994 just before Kurt's death. This project had been in the works for nearly five years. But this collection never came out. And there is only one reason: Courtney Love. Today, our attorneys went into a Seattle court to stop Courtney from trying to take control of the legacy of Nirvana. We had no choice but to respond to her misguided campaign and lawsuits to appropriate the music of Nirvana." Follow this link to read the complete letter -> More.

    More you say? The day after Krist and Dave's letter to Nirvana fans - "The Family of Kurt Cobain" released a statement that read, in part:

    "Kurt Cobain was Nirvana. He named the band, hired its members, played guitar, wrote the songs, fronted the band onstage and in interviews and took responsibility for the band's business decisions. In their press release, Krist and Dave have distorted the real issues with unwarranted and spurious personal attacks. Under United States law, Kurt's interests pass to his heirs who then have the responsibility for overseeing his interests." More.

    One would think this was the end of it, but oh no. I did say it would get worse. Hence, about a week later, Kurt Cobain's mother Wendy released a sickening statement to the press that read, in part:

    "I know that in the last year of his life, my son despised his bandmates and told me many times that he no longer wanted to play with them or have anything to do with them. Mr. Novoselic and his cohorts are attempting a character assassination on my daughter-in-law that is plain and downright untrue.

    Mr Novoselic claims to have worked so hard as a band with my son. His romantic and revisionist version of a band history of sleeping on floors and generally being buddies with Kurt is just untrue. I don't know how those two ever kept playing together. It was probably because Krist was willing to help drive and because he knew sticking by Kurt was going to get him to where he is today: an extremely wealthy man. I support my daughter in law in dissolving an LLC which never ever should have been formed. I will be hiring counsel of my own to protect the interests of my daughters, and to protect my son's legacy from the mangling hands of what I believe to be a rat's nest of liars and bandits."
    More.

    January, 2002: This month, I decided to write my own article on the May 2001 lawsuit which halted the release of the box set and You Know You're Right. It was based on a number of public legal documents that I obtained from lawyers for both parties. More.

    March, 2002: This month, Courtney appeared as DJ in a new London, UK club playing some of her favorite tracks. According to NME, she also played You Know You're Right (still unreleased at this point) to the stunned audience. More.

    Also in March, the Chicago Sun-Times published an article by Jim DeRogatis who interviewed Kurt Cobain in 1993. In the article he talks about some unreleased Nirvana and Cobain gems that he was allowed to listen to. "You Know You're Right is by far the strongest song that fans have yet to hear, but a second tune that I listen to in Love's living room comes close. Dough, Ray, and Me is often discussed on the Web, but few fans have ever heard it. Cobain recorded two versions shortly before the end of his life. One was a four-track rendition on which he drummed and sang while Erlandson played bass and Smear played guitar. The other was a solo acoustic demo taped in his bedroom, and that's the version I hear. The sound quality is sketchy, to say the least, but as soon as that famously gruff voice kicks in, it's vital, entrancing, and impossible to ignore. The song boasts a beautiful, Beatlesesque melody in the tradition of About a Girl, the standout track from Bleach. In addition to an endearingly rough guitar solo, its other outstanding feature is the moaned/whined/chanted repetition of 'Dough/Ray/Me, Do/Re/Mi' over and over during a long and climactic finale. Deciphering Cobain's cryptic lyrics during a first listen is difficult at best, but I manage to scribble several lines in my notebook: 'If I may/If I might/Wake me up/See me ... If I may/Cold as ice/I only have/Sue me.' Sue me? Sue me?" More.

    April, 2002: As yet another saucy piece of the legal battle between Courtney and Nirvana, Love is asked to undergo psychiatric examination. "In December, Grohl and Novoselic alleged Love is too 'incapacitated' to manage her business partnership with them. Court papers stated Love had shown an inability in the past decade to work with managers, attorneys and fellow members of her band, Hole. 'In her professional dealings, Love is irrational, mercurial, self-centered, unmanageable, inconsistent and unpredictable,' the court filing said." More.

    Later that month, a judge dismissed the motion. More.

    May, 2002: After almost a year of devastating legal wranglings between the parties, something good actually happened this month: longer clips of You Know You're Right turned up from out of nowhere. On May 10, four clips of the song were posted on fansites by a fellow who had somehow gotten hold of the entire song. This was long before any official release of said song had been announced (at least after the lawsuits).

    Courtney Love's manager wasn't slow to react - immediately prompting fan sites to remove the clips. This also halted the complete song from being put online, at least for the time being. The whole incident sparked heated debates on the Nirvana message boards and even the media jumped in, with stories from NME and many other places. There was even speculation that the person who posted the clips got the song from an advance copy of the Probot album, a Dave Grohl project that was also unreleased (this was denied by Grohl). More.

    In the midst of the YKYR hoopla, Rolling Stone magazine published an article talking about all the cassette tapes that Courtney Love supposedly has in the possession: "'I have a buttload of material,' says Courtney Love of the archive of unreleased material by Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. 'I have the holy grail of rock & roll. That's the story.' There are 109 tapes. 'But not all of it's great. Some of it's fragments.' She thinks there are between five and eight 'solidly good,' unheard acoustic songs. 'There's some stuff that's not very melodic that I'm not fond of, but, hey, if you're a fan of [Radiohead's] Kid A, it might be really great. 'On those tapes,' Love continues, 'are everything from shitty collages to some pretty stunning, awe-inspiring acoustic songs to stupid, fucked-up shit. The songs began at our home, usually in a closet or in his room, and I have everything from stuff you've already heard in demo form to gasp-out-loud acoustic songs to things he's playing with Patty [Schemel, Hole's drummer] and Eric [Erlandson, Hole's guitarist] to things he's playing with the fucking heroin dealer to collages.' 'Things he's playing with the fucking heroin dealer' refers to tapes recorded when Cobain would take his four-track and go score dope with a musician friend. He'd check into a motel room next to the dealer's room, do dope and record with the friend and the dealer. 'It's really good,' Love comments. 'Pretty much, Kurt was not a loser when it came to songwriting, you know.'"

    There are also comments on the ill-fated box set in the same article: "Among the material that Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic planned to put on the Nirvana box set, aside from You Know You're Right, was, according to Novoselic, material from: 'KAOS radio, 1987, BBC Peel sessions, studio outtakes, sessions that we did in North Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, In Utero outtakes, live stuff.' He specifically mentions the 'Butch Vig raw mix of Teen Spirit, a rough mix that's really different.'" More. The mag also has an article on the lawsuits.

    June, 2002: MTV publishes an interesting interview with Dave Grohl where he talks about the lawsuits, the Rolling Stone cover (see May, 2002), the leak of You Know You're Right, and other things. More.

    Also this month, the New York Sun ran a story on the YKYR leak, mentioning the three biggest Nirvana websites. More.

    Finally, by the end of the month, it is announced for the first time that all parties want You Know You're Right released as part of a Nirvana best-of collection (to come out by the end of the year), followed by a boxed set of rarities and then a single 'best-of-the-box' cd. If all goes well, that is. More.

    September, 2002: This month, the legal battle finally ended when the parties settled after a court hearing in early September. But, before the details of the settlement were released, and before a best-of disc was announced officially, You Know You're Right appeared on the web again. This time it was the complete track (see May, 2002).

    On September 21, 2002, an MP3 of the complete song was posted on Nirvana message boards. How exactly it turned up is, to this day, still not precisely known, but the fact remains that thousands of fans quickly downloaded it and once again, the community was buzzing with activity. At this point, several reports had been made of a best-of CD, and more or less confirmed in a message board post by Courtney. Such a CD (to feature the track) was still at least a month from release, though, by the time the song leaked. Emotions were high, as one fan displayed:

    "I had no idea what was going on. Then I downloaded it ... Oh my god. I nearly cried. Literally. I was out of breath and wanted to burst into tears. I mean, the last song ever recorded by Nirvana. 8+ years stuck in a box collecting dust then one day BOOM! It's emotional. For me, man. I was in awe. I thought it was amazing. But the feel is so different. The first two or three times I played it it didn't 'FEEL' like Nirvana. At all. It was so new to me even though I've heard the live version and played it many times. It's such a different feeling emitting from that song that it just so morbid. I'm speechless." More.

    Shortly after the song popped up online, some brave radio stations around the world began playing the unauthorized track. One station even played it over and over again for one hour straight. Some of them received cease and desist letters from Nirvana's label. Though, eventually - because of the huge interest - Geffen caved in and made the track legally available to radio stations. More. Also see this.

    All while this happened, Q Magazine published a special issue with Kurt Cobain on the cover, calling Nirvana The Most Important Band In The World. Inside, 'the 25 greatest Nirvana moments', a new interview with Krist Novoselic and more. More.

    Then, on September 30, an official statement was issued which confirmed that the Nirvana lawsuit had been settled and that, indeed, a best-of CD was just a few weeks shy of being released. "We have settled our legal dispute. We are all pleased that these issues have been resolved positively and we can move on. Together, we are happy to announce the release of Nirvana, a one-CD history of the band that will include You Know You're Right, the last recording that Kurt made with Dave and Krist. Universal Music will release the CD in the United States on November 12.

    A music video for You Know You're Right will feature previously unseen footage of the band. In addition, several new Nirvana releases will follow over the next few years, including a boxed set in 2004. We hope that this release will enable longtime Nirvana fans to hear some of their favorite songs in a new context. At the same time, the upcoming CD will allow a whole new audience to appreciate Nirvana's music and Kurt Cobain's great talent. We are now moving forward. We thank our fans for their support."
    More.

    The announced 2004 release date for a boxed set actually turned out to hold up, something most fans found highly unlikely at the time, given the many problems surrounding it.

    A different statement concerning Courtney Love's battle with Universal Music was also released. "UMG [Universal Music Group] will waive any rights to future recordings from Ms. Love. As part of the settlement, Ms. Love and the other members of the Cobain estate have granted UMG permission to release new Nirvana packages, including a compilation album with a never-before-released track, a box set, and a rarities album. Separate permissions were obtained from the surviving members of Nirvana." More.

    October, 2002: In the beginning of the month it was announced that the release of the best-of, simply entitled Nirvana, had been pushed forward to October 28 in Europe and October 29 in the U.S. The cover art was also made available by NME.

    Then, on October 8, the tracklisting leaked. I followed-up with a detailed verdict on it. More. Also see my actual review of the album which was posted on October 24 along with other details.

    Sometime around the middle of the month, the You Know You're Right music video was first aired. I posted some details about it and a bunch of screenshots. More.

    November, 2002: Just about rounding up a hectic year, Krist commented to a journalist that: "A box set should hit the bins next year and it will include a myriad of alternate versions of songs and live material." More.

    2003: During the entire year of 2003, absolutely no new information about the proposed box set was made available. No news stories. Nothing. Nada. Well, nothing important, anyway.

    January 2004: This website is mentioned in the February 5, 2004 issue of Rolling Stone as NFC makes available the first ever Nirvana concert for free download (as 2003's "NFC X-Mas Present"). A song from this performance would later wind up on With The Lights Out (see October, 2004). More.

    March and April 2004: The media is overflowing with stories about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain as this period marks the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death.

    Hundreds of articles are posted in the news section and I get to appear on national TV and radio in Denmark to talk about Nirvana and Cobain. No significant new information about the box set appears during this period.

    September 2004: Ok now we're getting somewhere. Completely out of the blue, a total surprise to pretty much everyone, an e-mail circulating at Universal Music announces a November 2004 release of the long-awaited Nirvana box set. This website is one of the first to make the announcement and quickly the news hits the mainstream media. The e-mail states that on November 23, 2004 a Nirvana box set will be released, including over 50 unreleased recordings including Kurt Cobain demos. There will also be a 60-page booklet and a DVD. Needless to say, this is the culmination of years of waiting and the gift to Nirvana fans that Krist talked about all those years earlier. More.

    October 2004: On October 13, NME reports that the box set will "feature 81 tracks including 68 previously unreleased recordings - rehearsals, outtakes, Kurt's home demos, as well as a DVD which is confirmed to have unreleased band home movies, live footage, rehearsal footage and 20 full-length video performances." More.

    Then, on October 16, an official website is launched to promote the box set. Apart from a small teaser page to promote 2002's Nirvana, this is the first official Nirvana website to surface in eight years. Located at www.nirvanabox.com the site initially offers the cover art and release dates (Nov. 22 International, Nov. 23 U.S./Canada). More.

    On October 21, the Geffen website puts up some details on the set, confirming the info from NME. A picture of the actual box set also turns up, as well as high resolution photos of the cover and an inside look (the CDs look different than whats depicted on the right). More.

    Finally, on Friday October 29, the tracklisting for the box is first unveiled by this website. It comes from an issue of Q Magazine (to be published the following Monday), the first publication to review the set and make the tracklisting public. It reveals a number of interesting previously unreleased tracks, including many that not even the most hardcore Nirvana collectors have ever heard (see the 'Tracklisting' section for more info). The article provides a quick run-through of some of the essential tracks and is generally very positive about the set. More.

    November 2004: On November 1st, Universal finally issue an official press release to confirm the details of the box set, including the tracklisting. Also, MTV puts up the 1990 In Bloom video from the DVD, and MTV2 announces a November 12 special that will include excerpts from the box set DVD. More.

    The L.A. Times publishes an enthusiastic review of the set and interest starts building. More.

    Then, on November 8, excitement about the box reaches new heights when MTV put up a trailer to promote the set. Including rare video footage from the DVD and audio clips of the three CDs, fans salivate upon hearing bits of unreleased gems such as Old Age and Do Re Mi. More.

    November 19, 22 & 23: With The Lights Out is released.

    For info on boxset-related events that have occured since the official release, please refer to the news section.



    Here is the full tracklisting with detailed source information and my review.
    Click on a song title to listen to a 30-second sample. cd1 - cd2 - cd3 - dvd

    CD 1:

    1. Heartbreaker [Led Zeppelin cover] 2:59m
    3/87 house party in Raymond, WA. Nirvana's first ever concert.

    NFC's review: Certainly an out of the ordinary way to open the box set. Not a particularly impressive performance, nor a good performance per se. It does stand out, however, simply because it is from Nirvana's first ever concert and public performance which, amazingly, was captured on tape. It also clearly marks the type of music that clearly influenced Kurt and Krist in the early years. A good way to launch the box set's CDs. As Krist put it, "We rocked".

    The entire show has been available in traders circles for a number of years and was put online at this website as the 2003 NFC X-Mas Present - an event that sparked massive media coverage, including a mention in Rolling Stone magazine.

    2. Anorexorcist 2:44m
    4/17/87 KAOS Radio session in Olympia, WA.

    NFC's review: Another track that turned up on bootlegs many years ago, thanks to a group that had set out to find the fabled Fecal Matter Demo. A fairly cool track and a nice glimpse into early Nirvana. The song was also done at the 1/23/88 show. Perhaps this version would have been better to use.

    3. White Lace And Strange [Thunder and Roses cover] 2:09m
    4/17/87 KAOS Radio session in Olympia, WA.

    NFC's review: Very groovy cover of a band I know absolutely nothing about. I don't even know what the original sounds like, but Nirvana's version is cool.

    4. Help Me I'm Hungry 2:41m
    4/17/87 KAOS Radio session in Olympia, WA.

    NFC's review: The aforementioned bootleg of this radio performance omits this song. Apparently the song was recorded but never broadcast. Listening to it, you understand why! It is a fairly poor performance; very rough and probably more or less spontaneous. Kurt's vocals sound like crap in my opinion. Then again, the band had already delivered a fairly solid performance at this point, for what would serve as their first demo. But, subsequent live versions of this song (also available on bootlegs) are much better. Check the 11/22/89 version. This song is possibly also known as Vendettagainst - this word appears in the lyrics and it is a title that has been around for a while, although it wasn't known which song it referred to.

    5. Mrs. Butterworth 4:05m
    1988 Boombox demo.

    NFC's review: A weird but funny glimpse into what Kurt Cobain was toying with when he recorded demos (probably on his own) and worked on song ideas. I'm not sure if this even qualifies as a song. A work-in-progress at best. I don't care much for the verses but immediately the chorus is very catchy. Near the end of the song, Kurt dives right into a hilarious breakdown of some sorts where he talks about the 'commemorative fast food chain glasses and cups I've accumulated over the past 62 years' and how he wants to get rid of the 'piss-stained matress' he's been sleeping on. The quality is not optimal, obviously, but the song is certainly listenable. The song is apparently from a January 1988 rehearsal at Dale Crover's house. I'd love to hear the rest of this!

    6. If You Must 4:01m
    1/23/88 Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Another song that most fans have heard; a highlight on the first Outcesticide bootleg. Though, this version is quite superior, quality wise. And it is a great song indeed. I am glad it has finally been released officially.

    7. Pen Cap Chew 3:02m
    1/23/88 Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: The above can pretty much be said for this track as well. Again, good quality and a pretty groovy song. The track fades out because the band ran out of tape (they could only afford one reel).

    8. Downer 1:43m
    1/23/88 Live performance in Tacoma, WA.

    NFC's review: Now this is an interesting one. Apparently all three songs from this live performance (also one of Nirvana's first shows) was taken from a previously unknown soundboard recording. It makes the songs sound completely different compared to a video of the show that fans have circulated for a while (and from which a commercial bootleg was produced many years ago). The vocals are crystal clear and while the guitar sounds flat (to me at least) on this track, it sounds better on the two others.

    9. Floyd The Barber 2:33m
    1/23/88 Live performance in Tacoma, WA.

    NFC's review: Great song and a cool early live performance.

    10. Raunchola / Moby Dick [Moby Dick is a Led Zeppelin cover] 6:24m
    1/23/88 Live performance in Tacoma, WA.

    NFC's review: I always thought Raunchola was a song title made up by a bootlegger but it appears to be the correct title of the song. Not a good song by any means, but again, very nice to hear it in soundboard quality.

    11. Beans 1:32m
    1988 4-Track Demo.

    NFC's review: Ok, this "song" shouldn't have been included. It's just totally unnecessary filler. Sure, it's funny the first time you listen to it, but I don't think it deserves to be included with this type of collection. The space would have been much better used for something else. Stupid, stupid.

    12. Don't Want It All 2:26m
    1988 4-Track Demo. Also referred to as Seed, Spectre & Misery Loves Company

    NFC's review: A track from a tape sometimes referred to as "Mellow 4-track shit" that has been available to traders for a long time, though in poor quality. This official release still suffers from a lot of hiss and relatively poor quality. Still, a somewhat improvement. I'm sure many will disagree with this, but I would personally have preferred to have a more "clean" version of the track - quality wise - perhaps with some noise reduction and whatnot. A cool song.

    13. Clean Up Before She Comes 3:12m
    1988 4-Track Demo.

    NFC's review: Sounds good. Also a very simple but interesting song.

    14. Polly (solo) 2:30m
    1988 4-Track Demo.

    NFC's review: Again, it has some annoying hiss that could probably have been removed with a little effort. Not a particularly good performance, which is understandable of course, but nice to have included with the box. The voice effect sounds good. I only wish they had also included Sappy (aka. Sad) from this tape. Or perhaps Bambi Slaughter (from the same era) for that matter.

    15. About A Girl 2:44m
    1988 Boombox demo.

    NFC's review: Very rough in quality - and fairly similar to the bootleg version, quality wise. I don't like this version of the song but still glad it was included.

    16. Blandest 3:56m
    6/11/88 Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Another great track that was left off of Bleach. I'm very happy it was finally released officially, despite Kurt's instructions to "delete the tape" all those years ago. One of the best songs on the first CD and the quality is really good as well.

    17. Dive 4:50m
    6/89 Studio session at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

    NFC's review: Another great highlight from this CD. A track that has previously been unavailable to traders (a Kiss cover from the same session was released officially, though). Very, very cool version of this song that was shamelessly left out of 2002's best of album. Great quality and performance.

    18. They Hung Him On A Cross [Leadbelly cover] 1:57m
    8/20/89 "Jury" Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: The genre takes a trip into blues and country/western land with this Leadbelly cover tune. I can't really decide if I like that or not. If anything, it's quite a contrast to anything you've heard Kurt sing before. His vocals are quite strong, but that is pretty much also the only good aspect of this song.

    19. Grey Goose [Leadbelly cover] 4:36m
    8/20/89 "Jury" Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Very groovy! This instrumental starts out a bit dull but eventually builds up to become a remarkable performance. The best song from "The Jury" sessions.

    20. Ain't It A Shame [Leadbelly cover] 2:01m
    8/20/89 "Jury" Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Another quantum leap in style for Kurt Cobain. Very upbeat and cool song once you get used to it. All three songs from this session are excellent in quality.

    21. Token Eastern Song 3:21m
    9/89 Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Great song and great quality, compared to bootleg versions. For years, fans had only heard live versions of this gem - a track never released officially until now. Another highlight off this CD.

    22. Even In His Youth 3:12m
    9/89 Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Also a cool song but I personally prefer Hormoaning's version.

    23. Polly 2:36m
    9/89 Studio session in Seattle, WA.

    NFC's review: Good version of Polly and, once again, good quality.

    CD 2:

    1. Opinion 1:34m
    9/25/90 KAOS Radio session in Olympia, WA. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Pretty good quality compared to bootleg versions that are plagued by hiss and noise. Though, this version (probably pre-FM) does have one odd 'error' at around 40 seconds into the song. This error is not present on the bootleg versions. Apparently, the error is there because the best copy available to the folks compiling the box had this drop out. So it was filled in with an excerpt from a lower quality copy. Also, this official release lacks the funny moments with Kurt Cobain and the radio host chatting before and after the song. For those reasons I kind of prefer the bootleg version over this one.

    2. Lithium 1:49m ()
    9/25/90 KAOS Radio session in Olympia, WA. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: A short version of this Nevermind classic but very exciting to hear in this early form. Again, Kurt's introduction to the song is missed.

    3. Been A Son 1:12m
    9/25/90 KAOS Radio session in Olympia, WA. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Also very nice to finally have this performance. Unfortunately, the box set lacks the last track from this session; an early rendition of Dumb.

    4. Sliver 2:09m
    1990 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Also somewhat poor quality. Again, understandable, but I'm sure a little noise reduction would have helped. Leaving the track somewhat unpolished and as rough as the original does have its charm, though. In addition, I'm sure the source tapes for these demos have seen better days. Anyhow, a funny early version with alt. lyrics and another introduction to how Kurt's demos evolved into full-fledged songs.

    5. Where Did You Sleep Last Night 2:31m
    1990 Boombox demo.

    NFC's review: Passionate solo version of the song that would become a highlight of Nirvana's Unplugged performance a few years after this was recorded. Very rough in quality but I am glad attention was given to these early, unpolished demos that show a fragile Kurt Cobain playing his heart out.

    6. Pay To Play 3:29m
    4/90 Studio session in Madison, WI. Previously released on Geffen Rarities: Vol. 1 compilation.

    NFC's review: An early version of Nevermind's relatively uninteresting Stay Away. I actually prefer this version compared to the one recorded later.

    7. Here She Comes Now [Velvet Underground cover] 5:01m
    4/90 Studio session in Madison, WI. Previously released on Heaven and Hell: A Tribute to Velvet Underground compilation.

    NFC's review: One of those kind of unimportant covers. Very strong, though.

    8. Drain You 2:38m
    1990 4-Track Demo.

    NFC's review: Here's a bit of an oddity - it features Dave Grohl on bass and was supposedly recorded at The Melvins' place. Obviously, quite different from the Nevermind version. Again, suffers in quality and is not much better in that regard compared to bootleg versions.

    9. Aneurysm 4:47m
    1/1/91 Studio session in Seattle, WA. Previously released as B-side on Smells Like Teen Spirit single.

    NFC's review: Great quality and a great song. Another song that should have been prominently featured on the 2002 best of disc but was left out.

    10. Smells Like Teen Spirit 5:40m
    Early 1991 Boombox demo.

    NFC's review: One of the songs that define why this box set is so unique and clearly a highlight. With early lyrics and a bowl full of passion, the band delivers a strong early recording of the song that would define the 90s. The quality is not superb or anything but far better than I expected. One of CD2's highlights.

    11. Breed 3:07m
    5/91 Session at Sound City Studios. Butch Vig working mix.

    NFC's review: Excellent version of this song! After listening to it only once, I already liked it much better than the Nevermind version. The guitar, for starters, sounds better here. Awesome!

    12. Verse Chorus Verse 3:18m
    5/91 Session at Sound City Studios. Nevermind Outtake.

    NFC's review: One of the most highly anticipated songs to come from this box set. Along with Old Age and a couple of others, this song has had a sort of mythical status in the Nirvana fan community for a long time. Perhaps mostly due to the fact that, until now, fans have only heard live versions of it.

    Unfortunately, the song doesn't live up to my own expectations. While there are only scratch vocals to go with here, Kurt's singing is simply not very good on this song, in my opinion. Most of the lyrics are more or less garbled and the playing is boring. Make no mistake: it is incredible to finally hear a studio version of this gem and I think I speak for everyone when I say that Nirvana fans are grateful for its release. Still, it's not the "long lost Nirvana treasure" that I had perhaps hoped for. For now, I enjoy the live versions much more. But again, great to finally hear the track. And the quality is great. Who knows what it would have turned into, had the band worked on it longer, and had Kurt perfected his lyrics and vocal performance.


    13. Old Age 4:20m
    5/91 Session at Sound City Studios. Nevermind Outtake.

    NFC's review: Aside from Do Re Mi this is without a doubt one of the most debated and cherished Nirvana songs in the fan community. Ever since a Seattle newspaper released a clip of it in early 1998 (see Timeline), fans have been desperate for a complete version. And here it finally is.

    First, let me thank the Nirvana camp for including this track. If this isn't a nod to Nirvana's dedicated fanbase, I don't know what is. Perhaps fans have set unusually high expectations for themselves when it comes to this song. I think it's difficult to describe what was so captivating about that grainy, low-quality clip that surfaced in 1998. In any case, this studio outtake is not quite as rewarding as I had expected. Sure, as with VCV, it is amazing to finally hear a complete version. It's just not quite there. Again, this is an unfinished work-in-progress type of deal, but it still didn't meet my expectations. I think most fans would probably be just as happy (if not happier) to hear a complete Old Age from the 3/91 boombox tape - the version from where the 1998 clip originates. I truly hope this is released or otherwise made available some day.

    14. Endless, Nameless 8:48m
    9/3/91 Radio session in London, UK.

    NFC's review: Broadcast many times and widely available. Boring.

    15. Dumb 2:35m
    9/3/91 Radio session in London, UK.

    NFC's review: Broadcast many times and widely available. Boring.

    16. D-7 [The Wipers cover] 3:46m
    10/21/90 Radio session in London, UK. Previously released as B-side on Lithium single and on the Hormoaning EP.

    NFC's review: One of my favorite Nirvana covers.

    17. Oh The Guilt 3:25m
    4/7/92 Studio session in Seattle, WA. Remix. Previously released as B-side on split single with Jesus Lizard.

    NFC's review: Another cool song that I'm sure a lot of people haven't heard due to its somewhat limited availability.

    18. Curmudgeon 3:03m
    4/7/92 Studio session in Seattle, WA. Remix. Previously released as B-side on Lithium single.

    NFC's review: I'm not sure why, but this song never sounded as good as it does here. Great performance. A nice gem that deserves the inclusion here.

    19. Return Of The Rat [The Wipers cover] 3:09m
    4/7/92 Studio session in Seattle, WA. Remix. Previously released on 8/14 songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers tribute album.

    NFC's review: Not a particularly good song but, again, it can be difficult to track down so it's nice to have it here with compilation tracks and B-sides.

    20. Smells Like Teen Spirit 4:59m
    5/91 Session at Sound City Studios. Butch Vig mix.

    NFC's review: One of those tracks that Krist promised us through an interview with Rolling Stone. Very interesting version of the song ... rockin'

    CD 3:

    1. Rape Me 3:23m
    1992 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Just Kurt Cobain by himself working on this song in its earliest stages. It is remarkable to get this unique glimpse into the inner workings of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. The song features early, unfinished lyrics and Kurt playing the familiar notes on his acoustic guitar.

    2. Rape Me 3:01m
    10/26/92 Studio session in Seattle, WA with Jack Endino.

    NFC's review: Apparently, the child crying in the background is Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean - only a couple of months old at this time. The crying does sound very out of place here and puts the whole song in a very eerie mood. But it is a great performance of Rape Me. The only song from this session with lyrics.

    3. Scentless Apprentice 9:32m
    1992 Band practice/rehearsal demo.

    NFC's review: An unusual early demo of this In Utero song, clocking in at almost 10 minutes! It is very cool to listen to the band just jamming away and moulding the song while goofing around. The band members talking and sometimes singing throughout is quite interesting! Really good quality, too.

    4. Heart-Shaped Box 5:31m
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    NFC's review: Another early version of a song that would wind up on In Utero.

    5. I Hate Myself And I Want To Die 4:03m
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    NFC's review: Considering the information provided by the Geffen press release, I thought the version of this song would be the b-side from the Beavis and Butthead Experience compilation. It is instead an awesome early version from the Rio sessions - which, for some reason, is not available on the bootleg of this recording. The guitar introduction is a little annoying but otherwise it was exciting to hear this version of the eventual B-side.

    6. Milk It 4:34m
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    NFC's review: Very energetic early version of this song with different lyrics.

    7. Moist Vagina 1:56m
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    NFC's review: Also energetic and more rock n' roll than the officially released version.

    8. Gallons Of Running Alcohol Flow Through The Strip 7:34m
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Previously released on non-US versions of In Utero

    NFC's review: Along with Beans and a couple of other tracks, I think this one should just have been left out. Using more than 7 minutes for this ... studio fooling around ... kind of experimental crapfest ... is just dumb. While Americans may find it difficult to locate this track (it is only included with non-U.S. versions of In Utero), I am sure these seven minutes could have been used for something better.

    9. The Other Improv 6:24m
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    NFC's review: Also a goofing-around jam-type thing, kinda like "Gallons". Whether it should have been included can be debated. It's interesting to hear.

    10. Serve The Servants 1:36m
    1993 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: A really short rendition of this song, but cool.

    11. Very Ape 1:52m
    1993 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Another short one with Kurt's fragile vocals.

    12. Pennyroyal Tea 3:30m
    1993 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Very beautiful version of this song.

    13. Marigold 2:34m
    2/93 In Utero sessions. Previously released as B-side on Heart-Shaped Box single.

    NFC's review: Not really a Nirvana song; more a Dave Grohl project. And perhaps somewhat unnecessary for this box set as it's already been released twice.

    14. Sappy 3:26m
    2/93 In Utero sessions. Previously released on No Alternative compilation as Verse Chorus Verse.

    NFC's review: Possibly the best song on CD3 and one of my all-time favorite Nirvana tracks. I am so happy this track is finally getting the more widespread, mainstream release that it deserves. Previously hidden as Verse Chorus Verse on an AIDS-benefit compilation (that doesn't even list the song on the back cover), this is the song that anyone with even the slightest interest in Nirvana should hear. The band attempted the song a number of times in the studio but this is probably the best version. Still, including some of the earlier versions would have been nice. This is Nirvana at it's finest, in my opinion.

    15. Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam [The Vaselines cover] 3:57m
    2/5/94 Tour rehearsal demo.

    NFC's review: With Melora Creagor's prominent cello, this demo really stands out and is unique compared to the other demos and solo acoustic tracks collected here. A very good version of the song.

    16. Do Re Mi 4:24m
    1994 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic. Also known as Dough, Ray and Me.

    NFC's review: As I've said before, together with Verse Chorus Verse and Old Age, this song is one of the most highly-anticipated and long-awaited in Nirvana's history. It is a brutally honest and breathtaking performance from Kurt Cobain during his final moments. Extremely passionate and very catchy. The chorus in particular really captivates you, along with Kurt chanting "Do-Re-Mi" over and over again in the middle of the song. It is incredible to finally hear this song and while the quality is not superb or anything, it is far better than what one might expect. Probably one of Kurt's last recordings, and one of the absolute highlights to come from this box set.

    17. You Know You're Right 2:30m
    1994 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Not a particularly good take of the song that would finally be released officially as the first track on 2002's Nirvana record. Interesting to hear it, though.

    18. All Apologies 3:33m
    Possibly 1994 Boombox demo. Solo acoustic.

    NFC's review: Another solo acoustic song and another great rendition of a Nirvana classic. Whether the recording is really from 1994 seems uncertain.

    DVD:

    1. Love Buzz
    2. Scoff (incomplete)
    3. About A Girl
    4. Big Long Now
    5. Immigrant Song [Led Zeppelin cover]
    6. Spank Thru (introduced by guitar tuning and short drum solo)
    7. Hairspray Queen
    8. School
    9. Mr. Moustache.

    Tracks 1-9 are from a rehearsal session filmed at Krist Novoselic's mom's house in December 1988.

    10. Big Cheese
    6/23/89 Show in Westwood, CA. In-store gig at Rhino Records.

    11. Sappy
    2/16/90 Show in Long Beach, CA. This is listed as track #12.

    12. In Bloom
    1990 Video. Previously released on Sub Pop's Video Network, vol. 1 VHS. Listed as track #11.

    13. School
    9/22/90 Show in Seattle, WA. The only Nirvana show to feature Dan Peters on drums.

    14. Love Buzz
    10/11/90 Show in Olympia, WA. The first show to feature Dave Grohl on drums.

    15. Pennyroyal Tea
    4/17/91 Show in Seattle, WA. First live performance of this song.

    16. Smells Like Teen Spirit
    4/17/91 Show in Seattle, WA. First live performance of this song.

    17. Territorial Pissings
    4/17/91 Show in Seattle, WA.

    18. Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam [The Vaselines cover]
    10/31/91 Show in Seattle, WA.

    19. Talk To Me
    10/4/92 Show in Seattle, WA.

    20. Seasons In The Sun [Terry Jacks cover]
    1/93 Studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    Easter eggs and other more or less hidden DVD tracks (audio only):

    21. Unknown jam #1 5:34m
    Source: Unknown. Possibly from the 10/26/92 session with Jack Endino.
    Where to find it: Main title menu (with 'Play all', 'Scene Selection' and 'Credits')

    22. Guitar tuning and drum solo 0:43m
    Source: 12/88 practice from Krist Novoselic's mom's house (title 4, chapter 7+8 on DVD)
    Where to find it: Scene selection menu #1 (with Love Buzz, Scoff, Resting, About A Girl etc.)

    23. Unknown jam #2 1:42min
    Source: Unknown. Possibly from 1/94 session.
    Where to find it: Scene selection menu #2 (with Guitar, Heavy drumming etc.)

    24. Audio from Kurt Cobain home movie 5:47min
    Source: Unknown.
    Where to find it: Scene selection menu #3 (with Big Cheese, 1989 Bleach Tour, Sappy etc.)

    25. Unknown jam #3 0:50min
    Source: Unknown. Seems to be a shorter version of Unknown jam #2.
    Where to find it: Scene selection menu #4 (with School, Noise and Love Buzz)

    26. Lounge Act (demo) 2:34min
    Source: 5/91 Session at Sound City Studios.
    Where to find it: Scene selection menu #5 (with Pennyroyal Tea, Smells Like Teen Spirit etc.)

    27. All Apologies (demo) 3:16min
    Source: Unknown.
    Where to find it: Scene selection menu #6 (with Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam etc.)

    28. Kurt drumming in a studio 0:10min
    Source: Unknown.
    Where to find it: Credits screen, near the end

    29. Dave throwing a cymbal! 0:28min
    Source: 8mm video from Pachyderm Studios, Minnesota. February, 1993.
    Where to find it: Credits screen, click on the name "Shayne Stacy"

    30. Audio for Bleach footage 3:20min (not included with 'Play all' option)
    Source: Homevideo from U.S. Bleach tours, 1989.
    Where to find it: "1989 Bleach Tour" in scene selection menu #3 (title 6, chapter 1).

    This track has previously been released officially or broadcast on radio.
    This track has previously been available to the fan community via trading.


    All the song clips here are in the mp3PRO format which offers high quality with low bitrates. This means that the files are relatively fast to download but still excel in quality, despite being encoded with a low bitrate. mp3PRO files can be played with any regular MP3 player, but in order to achieve the best sound quality (mp3PRO), you need to perform a minor installation:

    If you have WinAMP v2.x or v5.x, download the mp3PRO Decoder Plug-in.

    If you have WinAMP v3.x or a different MP3 player which doesn't support mp3PRO, you can download a stand-alone player for the mp3PRO files here.

    The above plug-in only works for WinAMP version 2 and version 5, to my knowledge. It is strongly recommended to use mp3PRO playback for these clips, as they will suffer significantly in quality otherwise.

    A couple of photos used to promote the box set.





    On November 8, MTV put up a trailer to promote With The Lights Out. As reported in the news section, the trailer includes video footage from the DVD and sound clips from the three CDs that are included with this much-anticipated release. Some of the songs that we hear clips from include: Dumb (radio 1991), Even In His Youth (studio session 1989), Sliver (home demo 1989), Serve the Servants (home demo 1993), Old Age (Nevermind outtake 1991) and Blandest (studio session 1988). There were also clips of at least three different songs that I didn't recognize! One of them is most likely Do Re Mi (home demo 1994).

    As for the video footage, they showed clips of the rehearsal at Krist's Mom's house in 1988, footage of Kurt fooling around as a teen, a performance of Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover), clips from their 1991 Halloween show in Seattle, the June 1989 record store gig, Dave's first show, the 1993 studio session in Rio with Kurt playing drums for their Seasons In The Sun cover, and much more. Everything appeared to be in quite good quality, too. Spectacular! Did I mention Old Age? Fans are going to go nuts over this!

    View the trailer here (courtesy of MTV and Universal):
  • Windows Media format.
  • Quicktime format.
  • RealMedia format.

    Sound clips from the trailer (EQ'd):
  • Unknown jam
  • Mrs. Butterworth
  • Old Age
  • Do Re Mi

    Some screenshots from the trailer. Click image to view it in full size.







    Assorted reviews of the set from the media.

  • Q Magazine - December, 2004 (#221). Scan :: Text
  • L.A. Times - November 5, 2004. Scan 1, Scan 2 :: Text
  • Kerrang! - November 13, 2004 (#1031). Scan
  • The Observer - November 14, 2004. Text
  • World Magazine - November 2004. Text #1, #2, #3 and #4.
  • NME - November 20, 2004. Scan
  • Mojo - December, 2004 (#133). Scan
  • The Stranger - November 18, 2004. Text.
  • Belfast Telegraph - November 19, 2004. Text.
  • Dailybreeze.com - November 19, 2004. Text.
  • Seattle Times - November 23, 2004. Text.
  • Rolling Stone Magazine - November 22, 2004. Text.
  • New York Daily News - November 22, 2004. Text.
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer - November 23, 2004. Text.
  • The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) - November 23, 2004. Text.
  • The Boston Globe - November 23, 2004. Text.
  • The Boston Herald - November 23, 2004. Text.
  • allmusic - November 23, 2004. Text.
  • Pitchfork - November 24, 2004. Text.
  • The Star-Telegram - November 26, 2004. Text.
  • Tacoma News Tribune - November 26, 2004. Text.
  • New York Times - November 29, 2004. Text.
  • City Pages Media - December 1, 2004. Text.
  • Las Vegas Mercury - December 16, 2004. Text.
  • ICE Magazine - December, 2004. Text.
  • Internet Broadcasting Systems - December, 2004. Text.
  • LA Weekly - December, 2004. Text.
  • Blender - January/February, 2005. Text.
  • Yale Daily News - January 14, 2005. Text.
  • One Way Magazine - 2005. Text.

    Got any reviews of the box set from the media not listed above? Contact me.



    For my review of all the songs on the CDs, please check the tracklisting.

    There are at least two good things about this box set: it is for the fans and it focuses entirely on Nirvana's music instead of Kurt's drug use and tragic life.

    The music this man created together with his band mates is celebrated by this release. This is clearly not a corporate collection filled with high-quality songs and Smells Like Teen Spirit-ish radio hits. It is instead a venture into early boombox/4-track cassette tapes primitively recorded at home; early demo sessions; jams and other material that, truth be told, isn't really "releaseable".

    But the set gives fans unique and unprecedented access to the absolute heart of Nirvana and somewhat pieces together Nirvana's legacy, from the humble beginnings at someone's house party in 1987 to the very last demos that Kurt recorded in his home. As the timeline shows, it took quite an ordeal for this box to finally be released, and the parties involved went through a brutal legal fight over control of the rights to Nirvana's music. A lot of things had to fall into place before we would all get a chance to listen to these great songs.

    There's no doubt that the people involved spent a lot of time combing through old tapes, studio recordings and video material. For the most part, they made excellent choices in deciding which songs to include. Perhaps the box doesn't present any "long lost Nirvana treasures" that could go on to reach the same status as, say, a Smells Like Teen Spirit or Lithium. But there are some incredible home demos, and several previously unavailable songs that finally get a much deserved official release.

    Even for Nirvana's "hardcore" fan base that collects any and all recordings they can get hold of, the box offers a number of surprises. Many recordings that fans have wanted to hear for years are also included, most notably the Nevermind outtakes Old Age and Verse Chorus Verse. It is a treat to finally hear these songs, in this form. Like I said earlier, it is also very fascinating to listen to Kurt Cobain's solo demos - old as new - and observe what the well-known songs from Nirvana's studio albums sounded like in their earliest stages. If anything, the box set leaves us hungry for more. More demos and more of the unreleased studio material that is listed in the booklet; most notably the 1985 Fecal Matter Demo which was unfortunately omitted.

    The DVD is pretty interesting. I never knew that the December 1988 rehearsal session had been filmed and it is clearly the most fascinating part of the DVD. The quality is surprisingly good and it is fun to watch the band rehearse at such an early moment of their career. Only downside is a few cuts here and there (which mostly affects the incomplete Scoff). The footage of a guy dancing to Mr. Moustache and Krist smiling is just great.

    Having the In Bloom (1990) video on DVD in superb quality is really nice. I only wish they had included Nirvana's other videos as well. As for the other live performances on the DVD they manage to capture some crucial moments in Nirvana's career. One is the chaotic show at the Motor Sports Garage in 1990 (with Dan Peters on drums), which concludes with Kurt smashing his guitar in ever-so-creative ways.

    Another important moment in Nirvana history, of course, the debut performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit with alternate lyrics and a crowd going wild. It is also great to see a clip from Dave Grohl's first show with the band. Indeed, these songs each document a pivotal moment in Nirvana's legacy, and I applaud the Nirvana camp for uncovering this footage (most of which not even the most dedicated bootleggers and fans have found).

    Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam is a teaser from the 1991 halloween show which is also the source for Nirvana's Lithium video. Why this show has never been released in full, I don't know. Talk To Me is another great Nirvana track that is finally released officially. This is not the best version of it, but very interesting to see footage from one of those shows that have always been surrounded by mystery.

    The highlight of the DVD is probably the last track; Seasons In The Sun. A happy Kurt Cobain is seen playing the drums, with Dave on bass and Krist on guitar. A bit of a changed composition to what we're used to. I only wish more footage from the Rio sessions had been included. Mixed with this performance: some cute home video clips of the band messing around. This moment, more than anything, makes you miss Kurt Cobain and sorry that Nirvana is no more.

    Funnily, both the trailer and the MTV2 Special includes footage that isn't on this DVD. In fact, once you've seen the MTV2 special, the DVD is left with little to offer. At least the main part of it:

    As a funny little "hidden" feature, the song selection menus offer more than 20 minutes of additional footage. Included here is a bunch of home video stuff, including one of Kurt's weird movies, and camcorder clips of the band messing around. The best part is the audio, though: a couple of songs and jams that I personally don't recognize and early demos of Lounge Act and All Apologies are also buried in these menus. In addition, there is some very cool footage from the Smells Like Teen Spirit video shoot, showing the band (and audience members!) destoying the instruments and stage. Clips from the Come As You Are video shoot are shown on the last page of the song selection menus. A very neat way to utilize the DVD format and provide bonus material.

    Now, the booklet is a work of art. Absolutely spectacular. They did a great job with this one .. the artwork, the pictures, the information. Everything just looks beautiful. The booklet provides a very fascinating and informative timeline with details on live shows and recording sessions, release dates for singles and albums, and other important dates in Nirvana's history. There are also many previously unpublished pictures, photos of rare Kurt Cobain cassette tapes, studio sheets, album covers and much more. The booklet is concluded with linernotes by Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore and former New York Times music critic, Neil Strauss. While Moore describes Nirvana's early days and their influence on music in general, with funny stories and anecdotes, Neil dives into a somewhat irrelevant 101 course in rock n' roll music history. But generally, a very cool booklet that, clearly, a lot of work went into.

    The actual box is very nice as well. With a solid metal plate on the front, depicting the famous 'suits' picture of Nirvana. It has a sort of luxury feel to it, like you're holding something expensive in your hands. Of course, it is a fairly expensive set - at least in some countries. The tracklisting on the back is also very detailed and provides the necessary information.

    So what can you say? The box we've been waiting for is finally available. As a fan who has followed the whole saga as it's unfolded over these past 8 years or so, did it live up to my expectations? Pretty much. It contains a bunch of material I've always wanted to hear. And it includes songs that, while available on bootlegs for many years, deserve this official release in optimal quality.

    It is obvious that the Nirvana camp set out to make the fans happy with this release and a lot of work has clearly gone into it. It is not just another money-maker to pay for Courtney's lawsuits and/or Gucci bags. It is Nirvana at their earliest, roughest and most unpolished stages (Heartbreaker, Anorexorcist, If You Must) and at their absolute best (Sappy, Do Re Mi).

    Sure, I can point to songs that shouldn't have been included and songs or sessions I wish they had, but considering it's an official release - I think this is about as good as we could have hoped for. Just a few months ago, fans were still extremely skeptical, doubting that the set would ever come out. It had reached a sort of ridiculous Chinese Democracy situation where nobody knew for sure if it would ever happen. And if someone had told me earlier this year that in November we would get a box set with studio versions of Old Age and Verse Chorus Verse, a bunch of Kurt Cobain demos, and a DVD with a 1988 rehearsal, I would have found it hard to believe to say the least. But here it is.

    This is a great collection of music and a fitting, honest and respectful tribute. Not to Kurt Cobain but to NIRVANA. Ultimately, the music is all that matters.

    - Rasmus Holmen (webmaster of www.nirvanaclub.com), November 19 2004.



    Here you can find the official cover artwork and more.


  • A look inside the box set.
  • The actual box set.
  • A flyer promoting the box.
  • Promotion sheet from Universal.
  • High-resolution cover artwork (3010x1688).
  • High-resolution cover artwork (1200x687).


    On November 12, MTV2 in the US aired a show called Spankin' New DVD: Nirvana, a 30-minute special featuring excerpts from With The Lights Out. The show included clips from the CDs as well as the DVD, mixed with MTV Interviews, home video and other footage, rare Nirvana photos, clips from live concerts and more. Check below for a list of most of the songs featured in this show. See tracklisting for the source info.

  • Oh, The Guilt (audio: short clip)
  • Don't Want It All (audio: clip)
  • Blandest (audio: clip)
  • Immigrant Song (video: clip)
  • School (video: complete. Only Nirvana show with Dan Peters on drums)
  • Love Buzz (video: complete. First Nirvana show with Dave Grohl on drums)
  • Drain You (audio: clip)
  • Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam (video: complete)
  • Heart-Shaped Box (audio: clip)
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit (video: clip. First live performance of this song)
  • Seasons In The Sun + other Rio 1993 footage (video)
  • Sliver (audio: clip)

    Some screenshots from the show. Click image to view it in full size.








    This is a look at some of the most wanted recordings that are still sitting in the vaults or someone's basement. Even though the box set helped uncover some unreleased gems there are still many recordings that fans are desperately hoping to get some day. This is a list of some of them. Hopefully, this list will be an inspiration for future Nirvana releases.

  • December 1985: Fecal Matter Demo.
    This is one of the first recordings that Kurt Cobain ever made and while not Nirvana per se, it has been the 'holy grail' for Nirvana fans as long as I can remember. It is essentially the tape that brought Krist together with Kurt and for that reason alone it has a significant place in Nirvana's legacy. One song from it has now been released (in late 2005). Release the complete demo please!

  • January 1988: Rehearsal at Dale Crover's house.
    Another early recording. Apparently, Mrs. Butterworth from the box set was taken from this tape. It is also possible that the Cher cover Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves which I located a few years ago is from this tape.

  • January 2-3 1990: Studio session in Seattle, WA with Jack Endino.
    The Sappy from this session has never been released.


  • September 25 1990: Radio performance at KAOS-FM in Olympia, WA.
    The only unreleased song from this session is Dumb. It is possible that a recording doesn't exist anymore, though. It is rumoured that other songs were performed on this day, including D-7, but unlikely to be true.

  • Spring 1991: Demo session at Nirvana's practice space in Tacoma, WA.
    This is the tape from where the infamous Old Age clip is taken (see Timeline for info). Aside from the Fecal Matter Demo, this is the tape I'd most like to hear in full. A recording exists.

  • May 1991: Nevermind studio sessions in Van Nuys, CA.
    I think Sappy is the only unreleased song from these sessions.

  • October 26 1992: Studio session in Seattle, WA with Jack Endino.
    All the unreleased tracks from this session are instrumentals, but would still be nice to hear.

  • January 28-30 1994: Studio session in Shoreline, WA with Robert Lang.
    Some Dave and Krist songs (mostly unfinished and instrumental) were recorded here and have not been released officially. There are also a couple of interesting jams with Kurt.

  • 1982-1994: Other Kurt Cobain demos.
    According to Courtney Love, Kurt left behind a number of cassette tapes with demos, studio sessions and various recordings. While some songs from the box appear to be from these tapes, I am sure there is still a lot of material left that could potentially be released. Even if it's mostly solo-acoustic stuff. In particular, the other recording of Do Re Mi is much wanted.

    Live material:
    While hundreds of live recordings are available to Nirvana traders, only a few high-quality soundboard recordings are circulating. The Nirvana camp probably has access to many, many Nirvana shows in superior quality that could be released. Hopefully there will be DVD releases of complete Nirvana concerts in the future. Here is a list of some of the most wanted shows:

  • 01/16/93: S„o Paulo, Brazil.
    One of Nirvana's biggest ever shows (if not the biggest, in terms of the audience size), yet a complete recording has never turned up. Apparently, the band played a bit of an unusual set with a lot of covers and messing around. A pro-shot video is known to exist. How about a DVD of this one, folks?

  • 08/06/93: Seattle, WA (Mia Zapata benefit concert).
    Another one of those shows with an unusual setlist. No recording has surfaced.

  • 03/01/94: Munich, Germany.
    Nirvana's last concert -- basically the only reason why so many people want to hear this. Only three songs from it have turned up - in the form of a broadcast on German television.


    Needless to say there is plenty of material to go with for future releases. Hopefully, one of more recordings from this list will be out there some day. If you happen to own any of these recordings, please contact me. Thanks.


    NFC Board discussions about box:
  • What should it include?
  • First box thread
  • Box set single?
  • Box set tracklisting
  • iTunes - Lithium
  • Box set trailer
  • General discussion
  • MTV2 Special
  • WTLO - first impressions
  • Box set lyrics

    In Bloom video (1990):

  • Windows Media format.
  • Quicktime format.
  • RealMedia format.

    Desktop wallpaper (courtesy of nirvanabox.com):
  • 800x600
  • 1024x768
  • 1280x1024