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CD Review: Nirvana – Sliver: The Best of the Box

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What’s the 4-1-1?
Last year Nirvana released its highly-anticipated With the Lights Out box set of previously unreleased material that included live performances, studio demos and Kurt Cobain’s home demos. This album takes the “best of” that set and puts them on one disc.

Genre
Grunge / rock / hard rock

The Good
I enjoy how everything used for this compilation is chronological. For the most part, people didn’t really know much about Nirvana’s music pre-Nevermind. I am one of those people, so I really didn’t get into this disc until after a few songs. The home demo of “About a Girl” is very soft, but still enjoyable because it’s nice to compare to the final product. “Blandest” is a studio demo that has a killer riff and is perhaps one of the heaviest tracks I’ve heard from the group.

“Ain’t It a Shame” has a punk meets rockabilly feel and really shows the flexibility of the group. I would have never thought they were capable of this. “Sappy” is a studio demo exclusive to this collection. It’s very muddy and melancholy like most of the band’s material. Even though the home demo of “Sliver” is raw and stripped down, it still manages to draw you in. If you didn’t already know, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” had come a long way before its final inception. The lyrics were different in some parts and so was the instrumentation.

The main riff is also slightly different on “Come As You Are.” I thought it was cool that they’ve included both the home and studio versions of “Rape Me,” so you can hear the changes for yourself. I don’t get the baby crying in the background of the studio version. The “Heart Shaped Box” demo doesn’t differ much from the original except a few lyrical differences.

The Bad
I’d be a little pissed if I shelled out $50 for the box set, and then found out there were two new unreleased songs on this CD; thus forcing collectors to buy both. A few of the demos are God-awful. Songs like “Spank Thru,” “Mrs. Butterworth” and “Floyd the Barber” are good for a curious listen, but not a replay. The songs really show you how far they came, but I’m not sure you really want to hear these.

The Verdict
I wasn’t a really big fan of Nirvana, but I have formed an admiration for the band after listening to some of the earlier takes. After hearing some of these cuts, it’s amazing that they were able to put out the music that they did. A lot of the demos are really rough. So rough that if you heard them first, you’d say Nirvana never had a chance. This is definitely a compilation for collectors and die-hard fans, but not so much for casual fans.

Did You Know?
The track “Heartbreaker” was taken from Nirvana’s first public performance in 1987.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Originally posted by author at Rock-Is-Life.com

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About George Dionne