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With the Lights Out

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Title: With the Lights Out  
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With the Lights Out

With the Lights Out
Box set by Nirvana
Released November 23, 2004
Recorded March 1987–March 1994
Genre Grunge, alternative rock, punk rock
Length 216:27
CD 1: 71:25
CD 2: 71:31
CD 3: 73:31
Label DGC
Producer Jack Endino, Greg Babior, Steve Fisk, Butch Vig, Steve Albini, Lance Bangs
Nirvana chronology
With the Lights Out
Sliver: The Best of the Box

With the Lights Out is a box set, containing three CDs and one DVD, of previously rare or unreleased material, including b-sides, demos, rough rehearsal recordings and live recordings, from the American rock band Nirvana. It was released in November 2004. The title was taken from the lyric, "With the lights out, it's less dangerous" from the band's 1991 "Smells Like Teen Spirit" single.

With the Lights Out set a record for single week sales of any box set, with 105,760 units sold. As of 2007, it has sold over 925,000 units in the United States alone, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[1] It has also been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).


  • Background 1
    • Promotion 1.1
    • Packaging 1.2
  • Reception 2
  • Track listing 3
  • Personnel 4
  • Sliver: The Best of the Box 5
    • Recording and release 5.1
    • Artwork 5.2
    • Track listing 5.3
  • Charts 6
    • With the Lights Out 6.1
      • Certifications 6.1.1
    • Sliver: The Best of the Box 6.2
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Rumors of a posthumous Nirvana box set, or anthology, first surfaced in the mid-1990s, not long after the death of the band's singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain in April 1994. It was eventually announced that a 45-track box set would be released in September 2001, to mark the 10th anniversary of the band's breakthrough album, Nevermind, but a legal battle between Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, and surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, precluded this from happening.

Much of the dispute centered on "You Know You're Right", a song recorded in January 1994 during the band's final studio session. Grohl and Novoselic had wanted it for the box set, but Love blocked the song's release, and sued them for control of Nirvana's legacy. Love's lawsuit asserted that "the parties have fundamentally different concepts of how to manage the musical and artistic legacy of Kurt Cobain", which resulted "in a stalemate of decision making."[2] She believed that "You Know You're Right" would be "wasted" on a box set, and instead belonged on a single-disc compilation similar to the Beatles' 1.[3]

In 2002, the legal battle was settled, and "You Know You're Right" appeared on the "best-of" compilation Nirvana. This paved the way for what became the With the Lights Out box set, which arrived in November 2004, over three years after its original release date but with more music than had originally been promised, including an acoustic demo of "You Know You're Right."


Before the release of With the Lights Out a promotional EP entitled Selections from With the Lights Out was sent out to radio stations, featuring the songs "White Lace and Strange," "Blandest," "Lithium", "Heart-Shaped Box" and "You Know You're Right" from the box set.[4] "Lithium" was also released as a downloadable single exclusively from iTunes on 22 November 2004.[5] The music video for the original version of "In Bloom" that was made in 1990 for the Sub Pop Video Network Program VHS compilation was released to music television as well as being included on the DVD of With the Lights Out.[6]

An online trailer was also released for the box set, featuring footage from the DVD and audio from the three CDs.


With the Lights Out is packaged in heat-sensitive material which changes color when touched, revealing images of recording session tapes.[7]

Each of the three CD's loosely represent the rare recordings from each of the three eras of Nirvana's history, in line with the band's three studio albums (Bleach, Nevermind and In Utero) which were released in 1989, 1991 and 1993 respectively. The DVD contains rare live performances and rehearsals from throughout the band's career.

It includes a 60-page booklet, which contains liner notes by Thurston Moore, of the American rock band Sonic Youth, and journalist Neil Strauss, as well as photographs and a chronological catalog of the band's recording history, including studio sessions, television and radio appearances, live performances and home demo recordings sessions.

The band's May 6, 1987 radio session at KAOS 89.3 FM in Olympia, Washington is mislabeled as being from April 17, 1987.[7]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 76/100[8]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [9]
Blender [10]
Classic Rock [11]
NME [12]
New York Times (Positive)[13]
Paste (Positive)[14]
Pitchfork Media (6.3/10)[15]
PopMatters (Neutral)[16]
Rolling Stone [17]
Spin (A)[18]

With the Lights Out received generally positive reviews from music critics,[8] many of whom saw it as a valuable glimpse into the band's musical evolution. Julian Marshall of the NME called it "a humanising, comprehensive and often heartbreaking document of a man who, in five years, changed the face of music, almost by accident."[19]

However, several critics felt it contained too much second-rate material never intended for official release. Mark Richardson of Pitchfork wrote, "Those hoping for a trove of overlooked gems will be disappointed...Simply put, there's enough good stuff here for a solid single disc."[15] Tim O'Neil of PopMatters wrote, "The majority of the material presented here will appeal only to a select group of hardcore fans, music historians and critics."[20]

Track listing

All songs written by Kurt Cobain, unless stated otherwise.

Disc 1
  1. "Heartbreaker" (John Bonham/ John Paul Jones/ Jimmy Page/ Robert Plant) – 2:59
  1. "Anorexorcist" (a.k.a. "Annorexorcist") – 2:44
  2. "White Lace and Strange" (Chris Bond) – 2:09
  3. "Help Me, I'm Hungry" – 2:41
  1. "Mrs. Butterworth" (a.k.a. "Unknown #2")  – 4:05
  1. "If You Must"  – 4:01
  2. "Pen Cap Chew" – 4:02
  1. "Downer" – 1:43
  2. "Floyd the Barber" – 2:33
  3. "Raunchola" (a.k.a. "Erectum")/ "Moby Dick" ("Moby Dick" - John Bonham/ John Paul Jones/ Jimmy Page) – 6:24
  • 1986–1988 solo 4-track home recordings, Aberdeen, Washington.
  1. "Beans" – 1:32
  2. "Don't Want it All" (a.k.a. "Seed") – 2:26
  3. "Clean Up Before She Comes" – 3:12
  4. "Polly" – 2:30
  5. "About a Girl" – 2:44
  • June 6, 1988 studio session at Reciprocal Recording Studios, Seattle, Washington. Producer: Jack Endino
  1. "Blandest" – 3:56
  1. "Dive" (Kurt Cobain/ Krist Novoselic) – 4:50
  • August 20/ 28 studio session at Reciprocal Recording Studios, Seattle, Washington. Producer: Jack Endino. (Studio session for "the Jury," a Lead Belly cover band featuring members of Nirvana and the Screaming Trees)
  1. "They Hung Him on a Cross" (Huddie Ledbetter) – 1:57
  2. "Grey Goose" (Huddie Ledbetter)  – 4:36
  3. "Ain't It a Shame" (Huddie Ledbetter)  – 2:01
  • September 1989 studio session at Music Source Studios, Seattle, Washington. Producer: Steve Fisk.
  1. "Token Eastern Song" – 3:21
  2. "Even in His Youth" – 3:12
  3. "Polly" – 2:36
Disc 2
  1. "Opinion" – 1:34
  2. "Lithium" – 1:49
  3. "Been a Son" – 1:12
  • 1990 boombox-recorded home demos, Olympia, Washington.
  1. "Sliver"  – 2:09
  2. "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (traditional) – 2:31
  1. "Pay to Play" (early version of "Stay Away") (previously released on DGC Rarities: Volume 1 in 1994)  – 3:29
  2. "Here She Comes Now" (John Cale/ Sterling Morrison/ Lou Reed/ Maureen Tucker) (previously released on split-single with the Melvins in 1991)  – 5:01
  1. "Drain You" – 2:38
  • January 1, 1991 studio session at Music Source Studios, Seattle, Washington. Producer: Craig Montgomery.
  1. "Aneurysm" (Kurt Cobain/ Dave Grohl/ Krist Novoselic) (previously released on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" single in 1991)  – 4:47
  • March 1991 band rehearsal, Tacoma, Washington.
  1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Kurt Cobain/ Dave Grohl/ Krist Novoselic)  – 5:40
  1. "Breed" (Butch Vig rough mix) – 3:07
  2. "Verse Chorus Verse" – 3:17
  3. "Old Age" – 4:20
  1. "Endless, Nameless" – 8:47
  2. "Dumb" – 2:35
  • October 21, 1990 radio session at Maida Vale Studios, London, England. (John Peel session)
  1. "D-7" (Greg Sage) (previously released on "Lithium" single in 1992)  – 3:46
  • April 7, 1992 studio session at Laundry Room Studios, Seattle, Washington. Producer: Barrett Jones.
  1. "Oh, the Guilt" (alternate mix of previously released song on split-single with the Jesus Lizard in 1992)  – 3:25
  2. "Curmudgeon" (alternate mix of previously released song on "Lithium" single in 1992) – 3:03
  3. "Return of the Rat" (Greg Sage) (alternate mix of previously released song on Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers in 1993)  – 3:09
  • May–June 1991 studio session at Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, California. Producer: Butch Vig. (Studio session for Nevermind)
  1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Kurt Cobain/ Dave Grohl/ Krist Novoselic) (Butch Vig mix) – 4:59
Disc 3
  1. "Rape Me" – 3:23
  • October 25–26, 1992 studio session at Word of Mouth Studios (former Reciprocal Recording Studios), Seattle, Washington. Producer: Jack Endino.
  1. "Rape Me" – 3:01
  • Winter 1992 band rehearsal, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "Scentless Apprentice" (Kurt Cobain/ Dave Grohl/ Krist Novoselic) – 9:32
  • January 19–21, 1993 studio session at Ariola Ltda BMG, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Producer: Craig Montgomery.
  1. "Heart-Shaped Box" – 5:31
  2. "I Hate Myself and Want to Die" – 4:03 (mis-labeled as the "b-side" version)
  3. "Milk It" – 4:34
  4. "Moist Vagina" (a.k.a. "MV") – 1:56
  5. "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip" (Kurt Cobain/ Dave Grohl/ Krist Novoselic) (previously released on non-U.S. versions of In Utero, 1993)  – 7:33
  6. "The Other Improv" – 6:24
  • Fall or Winter solo boombox-recorded home demos, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "Serve the Servants" – 1:36
  2. "Very Ape" – 1:52
  • 1993 solo boombox-recorded home demo, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "Pennyroyal Tea" – 3:30
  • February 12–26, 1993 studio session at Pachyderm Studios, Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Producer: Steve Albini. (Studio session for In Utero)
  1. "Marigold" (Dave Grohl) (previously released on "Heart-Shaped Box" single in 1993)  – 2:34
  2. "Sappy" (previously released as "Verse Chorus Verse" on No Alternative in 1993)  – 3:26
  • February 5, 1994 band rehearsal at Pavilhão Dramático, Cascais, Portugal.
  1. "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" (Eugene Kelly/ Frances McKee) – 3:57
  • 1994 solo boombox-recorded home demo, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "Do Re Mi" – 4:24
  • 1993 or 1994 solo boombox-recorded home demo, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "You Know You're Right" – 2:30
  • 1991 or 1992 solo boombox-recorded home demo, Olympia, Washington, or Seattle, Washington.
  1. "All Apologies" – 3:33
  1. "Love Buzz" (Robbie van Leeuwen) – 2:32
  2. "Scoff" – 0:47
  3. "About a Girl" – 3:05
  4. "Big Long Now" – 4:22
  5. "Immigrant Song" (Jimmy Page/ Robert Plant) – 1:57
  6. "Spank Thru" – 3:10
  7. "Hairspray Queen" – 3:37
  8. "School" – 2:53
  9. "Mr. Moustache" – 3:47
  1. "Big Cheese"(Kurt Cobain/ Krist Novoselic)  – 3:13
  • February 16, 1990 show at Bogarts, Long Beach, California.
  1. "Sappy" – 4:27 (mislabled as track 12 on the cover)
  1. "In Bloom" – 4:28 (mislabeled as track 11 on the cover) (Pre-Nevermind version, featuring Chad Channing on drums, recorded April 1990 at Smart Studios, Madison, Wisconsin. Producer: Butch Vig)
  • September 22, 1990 show at the Motor Sports International Garage, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "School"  – 2:33
  • October 11, 1990 show at North Shore Surf Club, Olympia, Washington. (Drummer Dave Grohl's first show)
  1. "Love Buzz"  – 3:40
  • April 17, 1991 show at OK Hotel, Seattle, Washington.
  1. "Pennyroyal Tea" (first live performance) – 1:55
  2. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Kurt Cobain/ Dave Grohl/ Krist Novoselic) (first live performance) – 6:16
  3. "Territorial Pissings" – 2:45
  1. "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" (Eugene Kelly/ Frances McKee) – 3:32
  1. "Talk to Me" – 3:35
  • January 22, 1993 studio session at BMG Ariola Studios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Producer: Craig Montgomery.
  1. "Seasons in the Sun" (Terry Jacks) – 3:40


  • Kurt Cobain: Lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass and percussion on Don't Want It All, drums on Seasons In The Sun.
  • Krist Novoselic: Bass, accordion on Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam (rehearsal), guitar on Seasons In The Sun.
  • Dave Grohl: Drums, backing vocals, lead vocals and guitar on Marigold, bass on Drain you and Seasons In The Sun.


Sliver: The Best of the Box

Sliver: The Best of the Box
Compilation album by Nirvana
Released November 1, 2005
Recorded 1985–1994
Genre Grunge, alternative rock
Length 74:34
Language English
Label DGC
Nirvana chronology
With the Lights Out
Sliver: The Best of the Box
Live at Reading
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [23]
Blender [24]
Pitchfork Media (6.8/10)[25]

Recording and release

Sliver: The Best of the Box is a compilation album by the American rock band, Nirvana, released in November 2005. It contains 19 tracks from the band's 2004 rarities box set, With the Lights Out, as well as three previously unreleased recordings: "Spank Thru," from the 1985 "Fecal Matter" demo, a 1990 studio recording of "Sappy", and a 1991 boombox demo of "Come as You Are". Sliver: The Best of the Box opened at number 21 on the Billboard 200.


According to Rolling Stone, the title and cover photograph for Sliver: The Best of the Box were chosen by Frances Bean, the daughter of Cobain and Courtney Love. The cover photograph depicts a cardboard box filled with Nirvana and Cobain tapes, including a copy of the Fecal Matter demo. Some of the tapes have spilled out of the box and are strewn across the floor.[26]

Track listing

  1. "Spank Thru" (December 1985 Fecal Matter demo) – 3:45
  2. "Heartbreaker" (March 1987 show in Raymond, Washington) – 2:59
  3. "Mrs. Butterworth" (Summer 1987 band demo) – 4:05
  4. "Floyd the Barber" (January 23, 1988 show in Tacoma, WA) – 2:33
  5. "Clean Up Before She Comes" (1988 home demo) – 3:12
  6. "About a Girl" (1988 home demo) – 2:44
  7. "Blandest" (June 6, 1988 studio session in Seattle, Washington. Produced by Jack Endino) – 3:56
  8. "Ain't It a Shame" (August 1989 studio session in Seattle, WA) – 2:02
  9. "Sappy" (January 1990 studio session in Seattle, Washington. Produced by Jack Endino) – 3:33
  10. "Opinion" (September 25, 1990 KAOS radio show) – 1:35
  11. "Lithium" (September 25, 1990 KAOS radio show) – 1:49
  12. "Sliver" (1990 home demo) – 2:10
  13. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (March 1991 boombox demo) – 5:40
  14. "Come as You Are" (March 1991 boombox demo) – 4:10
  15. "Old Age" (May 1991 studio session for Nevermind)  – 4:21
  16. "Oh, the Guilt" (April 1992 studio session in Seattle, WA) – 3:25
  17. "Rape Me" (May 1991 solo acoustic home demo) – 3:23
  18. "Rape Me" (October 1992 studio session in Seattle, WA) – 3:03
  19. "Heart-Shaped Box" (January 1993 studio session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – 5:32
  20. "Do Re Mi" (1994 boombox demo solo acoustic) – 4:24
  21. "You Know You're Right" (1994 boombox demo solo acoustic) – 2:30
  22. "All Apologies" (undated boombox demo solo acoustic, circa 1992) – 3:33



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  2. ^ Teri VanHorn. "Love Blocks Nirvana Release". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  3. ^ Jim DeRogatis. "A piece of Kurt Cobain". Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  4. ^ Enrico Vincenzi. """Nirvana discography in section "Promo only" under section "EP's. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Rasmus Holmen. "[NFC: The Internet Nirvana Fan Club]". Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  6. ^ Memorabilia - VHS Promo Singles Retrieved 18 May, 2013.
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  8. ^ a b "Nirvana: With the Lights Out (2004): Reviews". MetaCritic. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ Clerk, Carol (February 2005). "King Kurt".  
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  13. ^ Pareles, Jon (November 29, 2004). With the Lights Out' by Nirvana"'". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ "Nirvana - With the Lights Out :: Music :: Reviews :: Paste". 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
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  16. ^ O'Neil, Tim. "Nirvana: With the Lights Out < PopMatters". Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
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  20. ^ O'Neil, Tim. "Nirvana: With the Lights Out < PopMatters". Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
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  24. ^ [5]
  25. ^ [6]
  26. ^ Lash, Jolie (2005-09-10). "Unreleased Nirvana Due".  
  27. ^ a b With the Lights Out @
  28. ^ "Oricon Weekly Album Charts for the second week of December 2004" (in Japanese). oricon ME inc. Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
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  32. ^ "Classifica Artisti - Classifica settimanale dal 03/12/2004 al 09/12/2004" (in Italian).  
  33. ^ "American album certifications – Nirvana – With the Lights Out".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  34. ^ "British album certifications – Nirvana – With the Lights Out".   Enter With the Lights Out in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
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  36. ^ Steffen Hung. "Austria Top 40 - Hitparade Österreich". Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  37. ^ (The user has to select "Nirvana" from the drop down list) "InfoDisc : Le Détail des Albums de chaque Artiste" . Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
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  40. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Retrieved 2011-11-27. 

External links

  • - The official site promoting the release of With the Lights Out.
  • The Internet Nirvana Fan Club's report on the settlement of the Nirvana lawsuit, September 30, 2002
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