With The Lights Out
Geffen Records (2004)
Ripped off...filler...looks crappy...I am sad. These were the words that kept repeating themselves in my head when I first listened to With The Lights Out. Geffen releases a dissapointing boxset by the legendary rock band Nirvana. What seemed to be a promising boxset actually isn't a boxset at all. A boxset usually offers more than just multiple demo versions of previously released songs, filler footage of live performances, and band photos everyone has seen a million times before. In With The Lights Out, there is no discography, no collection of music videos, no collection of live performances, and no forgiveness for it's poor packaging. In short, this is not a boxset.
But there is some light at the end if this tunnel. Nirvana fanatics will enjoy this nonetheless because it documents the band's history, growth and well, because it's Nirvana for christ sakes. The booklet displays a decent timeline from when the band had it's first practice down to their last show. Following the timeline are enjoyable notes from Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore and famous journalist Neil Strauss. Fans will enjoy having the demo versions, the few Peel sessions, and live versions of Nirvana songs. They will also enjoy peeking into Cobain's personal home tapings of songs like "Rape Me" and "Pennyroyal Tea."
The DVD has its moments, like when the band is playing in Krist Novoselic's mother's house for three of their friends. The mayhem they ensue at The Motor Sports International Garage in 1990 is fantastic to watch, as well as Dave Grohl's first show. The footage of the "Seasons In The Sun" cover is humorous and depressing at the same time, pretty much Kurt in a nutshell.
Regardless, this isn't enough to save the entire boxset. Three cds and a fourth dvd disc later, I was still left with a bitter taste in my mouth.
It's no secret that the ongoing legal disputes between Courtney Love and the remaining band members played it's damaging part, but there is simply no excuse for the poor quality of this release. I would not give this to my 13 year old nephew. I would not use this to educate anyone about Nirvana. Instead, I would give them the albums and tell them to listen to Incesticide until their ears bleed. If anything, With The Lights Out reminds you how raw and passionate Nirvana was and will be something that the "heads" will embrace in their Nirvana collection. Appropriately enough, it ends with a poor demo version of "All Apologies," which unfortunately sums up this so-called boxset.