Nirvana’s self-titled album was released in 2002 and promoted as a greatest hits disc for the band. Looking at the tracklist on the back of the CD, it gives the impression that all that is on the disc is the “new” song, “You Know You’re Right,” and remastered tracks taken from the band’s various albums. It turns out that, in this case, appearances are deceiving.
The first track on the disc is “You Know You’re Right,” the last song Nirvana recorded together before Kurt Cobain’s suicide in April 1994. I really like this song, and it shows that Kurt still had some mileage left in him as a songwriter, but that he cut himself off. Whenever I hear it, it makes me think about “what could have been.”
The version of “About a Girl” that appears on this disc is the original version from the band’s first album, Bleach, rather than the version from MTV Unplugged in New York that had been promoted as a single in the Fall of 1994.
When I saw that “Been a Son” was on the disc, I assumed it would be the version that appeared on the Incesticide release. It turns out it’s actually the version from the Blew EP, which is a different recording of the song and is a version that was hard to come by before the release of this CD.
Another surprise was “Pennyroyal Tea.” Instead of using the In Utero version, a previously unreleased single mix of the song is included. According to the liner notes, Scott Litt did this mix for a 1994 release, but the release of “Pennyroyal Tea” was scrapped after Kurt’s suicide, because Geffen decided to cease promoting In Utero.
It’s unfortunate that when this album was released, Geffen didn’t play up the fact that the versions of “Been a Son” and “Pennyroyal Tea” were alternate versions. This might have encouraged more of the die-hard Nirvana fans to purchase it right away, instead of writing off this album as something not worth purchasing due to most of the material already being readily available on other releases. Geffen probably assumed that including “You Know You’re Right” would have been enough to entice Nirvana fans to buy this release.
I would definitely recommend this CD to a Nirvana collector who wants not only “You Know You’re Right,” but also the alternate versions of “Been a Son” and “Pennyroyal Tea” without having to track down obscure releases in order to get them. I would also recommend this disc to someone who isn’t as familiar with Nirvana, because I feel this album would make a good starting point for someone to become familiar with the band’s material.
I wrote this review after listening to a copy of Nirvana that my husband and I purchased.
(written by Lesley Aeschliman on November 5, 2002)