Nearly a decade after Cobain's suicide, though, the Seattle group that ignited the grunge movement with Nevermind in 1991 again finds itself on the new releases rack with Nirvana, a greatest hits collection that also boasts two previously unreleased tracks. With 14 songs making up a much too brief 50 minutes of playtime, Nirvana serves as a reminder of the brilliance Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were capable of and, sadly, the brilliance we've been deprived of since that fateful day in 1994.
Nirvana features songs from the band's three full-length albums (Bleach, Nevermind and In Utero), early EPs and, thankfully, the stunning 1994 MTV Unplugged release. For those who were drawn to Cobain's music on Nevermind, you'll find familiar essentials like "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Come as You Are" and "Lithium." But do yourself a favor: Don't skip over "About a Girl," "Been a Son" and "Sliver," all recorded on the Sub Pop label before "Teen Spirit" ever received airtime and all serving as a window to the band's early existence. The sampling from 1993's In Utero, including "Heart-Shaped Box," "Rape Me" and a previously unreleased mix of "Pennyroyal Tea," offers just a taste of that album's tremendous menu while the addition of "All Apologies" and the cover of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" from the Unplugged collection is a welcomed surprise.
But it's the first track on Nirvana that makes the disc a must-buy for any Nirvana fan. Sure, you've probably got the aforementioned albums already but with "You Know You're Right," the last song ever recorded by the trio, we've unexpectedly been given one last edition in the Nirvana collection. It may not stand as the group's best song but its inclusion on this greatest hits album is nonetheless acceptable.
Aside from "You Know You're Right," there really isn't anything on Nirvana that we haven't heard before but that doesn't mean the album is a waste of money. Linear notes by Rolling Stones reporter David Fricke add some substance to the package, but in the end it's the music that forms the heart of this release, the music that propelled Cobain and Nirvana to heights unimagined, the music that eventually sent the troubled singer to an early death. It's fitting that, once the 14th and final track on Nirvana winds down, you're left with a feeling that the album was simply too short; we were flooded with those same feelings almost nine years ago.