With The Lights Out

By Brian Chillemi

While reflecting back on the three albums and archival footage Nirvana has just released in a box set entitled, With The Lights Out, one cannot help but think of the Beatles Anthology, which is similar in makeup, size and content. But first I must start off by saying that such a collection, coming from such a seminal band, is without a doubt even more amazing then the studio albums they released during their time together. With seventy-one unreleased tracks (including unreleased footage) ranging from studio demos, live shows and Kurtís own home 4-track recordings, we are given insight into a Nirvana that few people had access too. A Nirvana before ďSmells Like Teen SpiritĒ, a Nirvana before MTV, a Nirvana before Dave Grohl, a Nirvana that many donít know and many donít love. Here is where the sand is sifted and all the hanger-onís fall into the stream we call popular culture to be washed away with whatever new trends happen to be rushing by this season, leaving only those who want to fully understand where Nirvana was coming from to wallow in unfamiliar sounds by a very familiar band. This box set effectively offers an intimate look into Nirvana and the sound they truly had, giving the listener a hell of a lot to swallow.

Each disc is a documentation of a period of time in the bands existence. On the first disc we hear the development of the sounds for Bleach, the bands first album, with its dark chuggy feel and gut wrenching vocals. Not to mention a few great Lead Belly covers as well. But by the end of the disc the tone has changed and we see a transition into melodic sound we all know. The second disc contains many acoustic versions of songs that were later released with all the big studio trimmings. These acoustic tracks are extremely intimate and amazing, but I wonít ramble on about them because one must hear them for themselves. Now moving on to the third and final disc, which surprised me the most, we hear a band that has been playing non-stop for years and the results are unprecedented. Nirvana originally had much rawer mixes for In Utero, so raw their record label would not release the album unless they re-mixed it to the version that was finally released. The third disc dives deep, deep down into a sound that is dirtier and some how at the same time more refined that anything Nirvana had done to date with tones, jams and sounds that are of another world. The band was going in a very awesome direction that was never fully realized.

A DVD also comes with this box set with rare footage of a band from its very beginning. The first nine songs are at a practice in 1988 in Kristís motherís living room with a few friends and an 18 pack of beers. From here we move onto an assortment of gigs and musical evolutions that occurred between 1989 and 1991 and few post Nevermind shows. Most of the footage shows a band before they were famous, before they were poster boys for a media constructed generation - when they were just another awesome rock Ďní roll band. This collection is also accompanied by a book that puts every major event Nirvana went through from recording sessions too shows into chronological order and places them besides many amazing unreleased images and photos. The liner notes for the box set are well written, very thoughtful and truly informative.

If you love Nirvana, no matter how much you have heard, read or seen; This box set will still blow your mind. It was not assembled as a marketing tool or as a sales device, and neither was Nirvana. Go out enjoy this extremely tasteful collection and get a deeper insight into a band that had a lot more going on then you were led to believe.

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