Anyone not living under a rock during the ’90s already owns the albums from which Nirvana‘s tracks were culled, except the lone unreleased gem, “You Know You’re Right.” (And that song, a vivid, foot-in-the-casket thrill ride that’s better than anything released by active bands this year, could easily be downloaded or taped from the radio.) Nirvana‘s dubious origins are well-documented: Drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic wanted to issue a rarities-packed box set, but Courtney Love yearned to cash in by going the more profitable single-disc route. A more interesting approach would take the group’s best nonalbum tracks (“Verse Chorus Verse,” “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”) and juxtapose them with any number of unreleased gems. Nirvana blends the trio’s played-to-death video hits (“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “All Apologies”) with a few essentials (“About a Girl,” “Rape Me”), but it fails to be definitive. The puzzling inclusion of “Been a Son” in place of more compelling material (“Polly,” “Dive,” “Serve the Servants,” for starters) emphasizes the fact that this shoddy greedfest isn’t about music. Having landed a hefty deal to make public Kurt Cobain’s personal journals, and having compiled this soulless cash cow just in time for the holiday rush, Courtney Inc. is sure to have a very merry Christmas. But Nirvana is an insulting lump of coal in the stockings of fans, one that rightfully finds Cobain screaming from beyond the grave.

Categories: Music