Nirvana - With The Lights Out

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Nirvana - With The Lights Out

Postby MK » Tue Nov 30, 2004 3:04 pm

Bargain hunting
First, this is a surprisingly good deal. According to the Best Buy sticker, this normally retails for $49.99. However, the week it came out, every store had this on sale. Before taxes, Circuit City was something like $35, Best Buy was $40 with most packages coming with a $5 Best Buy gift card inside. Better yet, Target had it for $28.

The best way to buy this? Find a Target ad and go to either Circuit City or Best Buy and do a price match. Both not only match the price, but give 10% of the difference. Circuit City's registers automatically include the 10% difference in a price match, making it very easy.

Best Buy was a little more complicated. When you do a price match there, the cashier basically selects 'price match' on their register screens, but for some reason, they don't include the 10% difference. Every time I tell this to the cashier, they either say there is no 10% price difference deduction or have a blank look, so what you have to do is point to the big, grey policy signs on the walls or the smaller ones attached to the front of the register, at which point they usually say, "Oh, they say that?"

To further complicate matters, at Best Buy the $5 gift card factors into the price match deal, but if you find a box set without the gift card sticker, it won't have the gift card so you don't have to deal with it. After a week, it seems like all the box sets with the gift cards are long gone, thanks to the Friday shopping frenzy, but a few may remain.

For now, all this is a moot point because this was last week's sale prices, but it's good to keep in mind for future deals on other products.

Box set details and review

Three CD's each timing about 71 minutes. One DVD.

CD's were mastered by Bob Ludwig, DVD by someone else and some other place, and you can sum it all up with one word: loud. Even the DVD is loud, possibly the loudest DVD I've ever heard. Usually when I switch from a TV broadcast to a DVD of a movie, I have to jack up the volume. With the Nirvana DVD, I turned it down to a very low setting.

The CD's are pretty loud, just like the black Nirvana compilation CD that came out in 2002, also mastered by Bob Ludwig. Too bad the Blew Ep version of "Been A Son" and the finished version of "You Know You're Right" were left off the box set. They would've fit. So basically that mediocre single disc compilation is the only in-print CD that has those two tracks.

A lot of tracks came from subpar resources, like crappy cassettes, the kind you buy in any drug store, but they still sound fine. Someone mentioned that the brief but big dropout on "Opinion" isn't on the boots. That's too bad, but it's a really brief dropout so not the end of the world.

At least some of these tracks are remixes. The lighter sound on "Oh, The Guilt" is mixed out completely.

The DVD info in the booklet has a bunch of typo, but you should be able to make out what's wrong.

The tracklisting printed on the back matches the press release and booklet, and there are a few mistakes. "I Hate Myself and I Want To Die" is listed as a 'B-side,' and in the booklet's timeline of recordings and sessions - they highlight the songs that are on the box set - they say the version on the box set is the one Steve Albini produced and previously released on "The Beavis & Butthead Experience." Not true. They actually use an earlier, rougher, longer version produced by someone else. I don't know if this is a mistake in picking the wrong version or just identifying it incorrectly, but it's no big deal because this earlier version is previously unreleased. The Beavis & Butthead/Steve Albini/previously released version can be found on that "Beavis & Butthead" CD which is out-of-print but easy to find for $1 or $2 at any on-line retailer selling used discs.

"Sappy" aka "Verse Chorus Verse" is marked previously unreleased. It is not, it's the same version found as the final hidden track on "No Alternative" except with a small extra dose of compression.

Packaging is neat, with the metal plate cover, but the digipak holders are death-grip holders, the worst I've seen. They SUCK. Be careful not to crack your discs when you take them out.

The booklet sucks. I like the new photos, the time-line is nice and complete, but everyone I know hates the two essays, and they're right. One exec some local rock critics know but won't name told them well in advance, "I wish these liner notes were better." You basically have Moore's disappointing essay that is occasionally self-serving, and then you have the crappy essay by a former NY Times critic. The NY Times have had great critics like the late Robert Palmer and the current editor, John Swenson, is pretty good. This guy, though, is probably their worst. He's written sleazy tell-all books that are more tabloid trash than rock history. He spent a lot of time with Courtney before writing these hack notes.

Some people were curious about the inclusion of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Bassist Kris Novoselic did several radio talk shows a year or two ago, talking about a tape he had of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that was an earlier mix. He loved it, talking about the feedback that was left up instead of mixed down, and how it was raunchier with much less arena-rock sheen. He said he wanted to put it on the box set if it ever saw the light of day. We finally got the set, and that's what's on there.

The DVD's more historical artifact than a definitive live video portrait a la the Led Zeppelin DVD. Not the best live performances, often ragged, but it's a REALLY, REALLY COOL historical artifact. You see an early Nirvana performing "About a Girl" in someone's house, supposedly in 1988 even though the camcorder says 1/1/87. You see them perform in dives and small clubs that most people who bought "Nevermind" would NEVER frequent, and you see them perform a thrash-punk sounding version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time ever in public, and everyone in the crowd really starts bopping along with the music. There's a few clips of them after they get big, and them making jokes about how they've become a corporate band.

In terms of content, with the exception of the DVD, this is like Springsteen's "Tracks," the Beatles Anthology, or Dylan's "Bootleg Series." Studio rarities, demos, outtakes, etc. The quality is surprisingly high in terms of music, and because this is a band with a small history, this is very close to being complete. I could see two maybe three more discs of non-Lp material that one could want, and that would include the official release "Incesticide," but with this box set, unless you're a diehard collector who needs everything, I can't see a person needing anymore studio bootleg material.

Is it worth $50? For most, I'd say no. Is it worth $27-30 after taxes? HELL YEAH. If you like Nirvana, look or wait for a bargain.

If you're still nitpicking...

Find a boot called "B-Sides Themselves" - get it? Huh? Aren't puns funny?

I'm looking for it myself, but this will have all the previously released material on the box set, mastered with less compression.

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Postby Ess Ay Cee Dee » Tue Nov 30, 2004 3:19 pm

Last edited by Ess Ay Cee Dee on Mon May 02, 2005 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby krabapple » Tue Nov 30, 2004 4:29 pm

Now, when will "Live! Tonight! Sold Out!' make it to DVD, along with the MTV Unplugged performance?
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Postby RDK » Tue Nov 30, 2004 5:51 pm

I gotta say - and to tie this into the 70's music thread - I think my favorite track so far is their cover of "Seasons in the Sun" at the end of the DVD. Quite poignant in that context.

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Postby Beatlesfan03 » Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:48 pm

krabapple wrote:Now, when will "Live! Tonight! Sold Out!' make it to DVD, along with the MTV Unplugged performance?

Funny you should say that. My friend and I were talking about these the other day.

I still see "Live! Tonight!" in some stores for about $30.00 probably because it's out of print. I'm sorry, but I don't think I ever paid $30.00 for a new VHS tape even when they were in style.

As for the Unplugged, are any of these out on DVD? MTV might be stalling that one and that's a shame because they'd make a bundle on it. Hell, I'm long since out of finding R.E.M. relevant but I'd still buy their Unplugged if they issued it or the McCartney one for that matter.

I don't have the set yet (wife wanted some Christmas gift ideas :roll:) but I bet you could have probably fit both the Live and Unplugged on the DVD in the boxset and probably still had room for more stuff.

Ess Ay Cee Dee wrote:Just listen to the horribly-compressed monstrosity that is the Foo Fighter's One by One (also mastered by Ludwig) and you'll get an idea of the kind of sound that Grohl seems to prefer.

Sadly, I'm thinking the master of that album must be trashed because I got the DVD-A of One By One thinking that there might be some improvement and its just as bad as the regular CD. Even the multichannel mix reeks of heavy compression. Sad, because it is such a great album.

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Postby Rspaight » Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:51 am

As for the Unplugged, are any of these out on DVD?

The Clapton, Dylan and Springsteen unpluggeds are out, at least, and probably a lot of other stuff I don't keep track of.

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Postby JWB » Thu Mar 24, 2005 8:13 pm

I put together a 3-CD set of all the leftover stuff, if anyone's interested. I got my friend who's a Nirvana nut to send me all the lowest gen stuff and I remastered all the bootleg stuff and threw it together. The BBC stuff comes from a DAT clone that just surfaced. Here's a tracklist:


1. Montage Of Heck (short version)
4-Track Recording 1988

2. Love Buzz
3. Floyd The Barber
4. Downer
5. Mexican Seafood
6. Spank Thru
7. Hairspray Queen
8. Pen Cap Chew
KAOS-FM, Olympia WA 4/17/87

9. Spank Thru
Reciprocal Studios, Seattle WA 1/23/88

10. Mr. Moustache
11. Blew
12. Sifting (instrumental)
Reciprocal Studios, Seattle WA 6/11/88

13. Sappy
14. Unknown Song
15. Unknown Instrumental
16. Escalator To Hell
4-Track Recordings 1988

17. Love Buzz
18. About A Girl
19. Polly
20. Spank Thru
Maida Vale BBC Studios, London UK 10/26/89

21. Imodium (Breed)
22. Lithium
23. Sappy
Smart Studios, Madison WI 4/90

1. Oh The Guilt (instrumental)
2. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter (instrumental)
3. On A Plain
4. All Apologies
5. Token Eastern Song (instrumental)
Music Source Studios, Seattle WA 1/1/91

6. Drain You
Maida Vale BBC Studios, London UK 9/3/91

7. Something In The Way
Maida Vale BBC Studios, London UK 11/9/91

8. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
9. Here She Comes Now
NOB Radio Studio, Hilversum NL 11/25/91

10. Scentless Apprentice
11. Meat
12. Very Ape
Ariola Ltda BMG Studios, Rio De Janeiro Brazil 1/19-21/93

13. Montage Of Heck (long version)
4-Track Recording 1988


1. Love Buzz (single mix)
2. Spank Thru
Reciprocal Studios, Seattle WA 6/11/88

3. Do You Love Me?
Evergreen Studios, Olympia WA 6/89

4. About A Girl
5. Spank Thru
6. Molly’s Lips
Pine Street Theatre, Portland OR 2/9/90

7. Even In His Youth
Music Source Studios, Seattle WA 1/1/91

8. School
9. Drain You
10. Been A Son
11. On A Plain
Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA 10/31/91

12. Sliver
13. Polly
Pat O’Brien Pavilion, Del Mar CA 12/28/91

14. Oh, The Guilt (original mix)
15. Curmudgeon (original mix)
16. Return of The Rat (original mix)
Laundry Room Studio, Seattle WA 4/7/92

17. Heart-Shaped Box (albini mix)
18. All Apologies (albini mix)
19. I Hate Myself And Want To Die
20. Moist Vagina
Pachyderm Studios, Canon Falls MN 2/93

21. Rape Me
Saturday Night Live, NYC 9/25/93

22. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
Le Summon, Grenoble France 2/18/94

23. Bullshit & Rantings
Various venues 1991-93

24. (Phone Conversation)
From Sliver single

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Postby MK » Fri Mar 25, 2005 12:32 am

Looks good, kind of like one of those "Genuine ____" deals Scorpio puts out.

I might be interested, but I'd have to search my stack o' boots, see how much of that I already have.

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Postby MK » Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:31 am

If you're thinking of buying Sliver: The Best of the Box for the three stinking rarities: DON'T. They SUCK.

Seriously, there may be 'historical' value, but it doesn't come through. You have a shitty 'boombox demo' of Come As You Are and like the other 'boombox demos' on the box set, the sound quality is lo-fi and the performance is shit. Historical because it's part of a demo tape sent to Butch Vig just before he produced sessions for Nevermind, but hey, they already took the best from that demo tape and put it in the box set - that's more than enough 'history' IMO.

The 1990 demo of "Sappy" plain stinks, nothing special AT ALL. Stick with the finished version.

The one cut that I could justify for the box set "Spank Thru." This story has been repeated 1,000,000 times so here is the short version. Kurt cut it in 1985, Novoselic heard it, decided to form Nirvana with Kurt. The later Sub Pop version and live versions are far better. This is like the crappy acetates recorded by the Beatles well before Ringo. Historical, but the kind best left in a museum, not as 2-3 minutes of mediocre shit that you have to skip or tolerate to get to the rest of the disc.
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Postby damianm » Thu Nov 03, 2005 5:39 am

MK wrote:If you're thinking of buying Sliver: The Best of the Box for the three stinking rarities: DON'T. They SUCK.

The 1990 demo of "Sappy" plain stinks, nothing special AT ALL. Stick with the finished version.


I hadn't even heard this was coming out. Is this '1990 demo of Sappy' you mention the acoustic one that's on Outcesticide 1 (the boot)? I've always liked that one quite a bit, but most people I've played it for hated it.

In any case, there's another version of 'Sappy' on that disc, a whole-band version that sounds like absolute $hit. Does anyone here know if that version's been released anywhere else?

I'm asking 'cause I've always found the actual take to be quite good, sound issues aside. Also, wasn't this song issued under another name at some point? As a B-side perhaps? How's that take?

It sounds like a [project] studio recording, so I'm assuming there has to be a better master somewhere. The Outcesticide crew must've just had a 24th-gen cassette dub and/or tried to correct it by bottoming out the treble .. it's f**king unlistenable.

(if anyone's wondering what the heck I'm talking about, I could MP3 a short bit and put it up somewhere)

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Postby JWB » Thu Nov 03, 2005 10:09 pm

This version of "Sliver" is an unsurfaced full-band version, but it's very similar to the one on Outcesticide 1. It sucks too.

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Postby Chris M » Fri Nov 04, 2005 1:01 am

It really does suck. Why oh why won't they release the near finished version of Sappy that was recorded during the Nevermind sessions?
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