Nirvana (Nirvana album)

Nirvana is a "best-of" compilation album by the American rock band Nirvana, released in October, 2002. It was the third Nirvana album to be released following the death of vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain in April 1994, and the first to feature studio material. It is also the band's first best-of compilation.

"Nirvana" in silver on a black background
Greatest hits album by
ReleasedOctober 29, 2002
Length49:38 (US and Japanese CD)
54:46 (International CD)
Nirvana chronology
From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
With the Lights Out
Singles from Nirvana
  1. "You Know You're Right"
    Released: October 8, 2002

The compilation features the previously-unreleased "You Know You're Right", a song recorded in January 1994 during Nirvana's final studio session. It also includes a chronological selection from the band's three studio albums and the live album, MTV Unplugged in New York, including a rare version of "Been a Son" and the Scott Litt remix of "Pennyroyal Tea".

Nirvana opened at number three on the Billboard 200 with 234,000 copies sold. It has sold one million copies in the United States,[1] and has sold two million copies in Europe as of 2007.[2]


Nirvana was released following the settlement of a long-standing legal dispute between Kurt Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, and surviving Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl. Much of the dispute centered around the song "You Know You're Right" which was recorded during the band's final studio session, in January 1994. Novoselic and Grohl had wanted to release it on a long-delayed Nirvana rarities box set. However, Love blocked the song's release, and sued Novoselic and Grohl over control of Nirvana's legacy. Love's lawsuit maintained that "You Know You're Right" was a "potential 'hit' of extraordinary artistic and commercial value."[3] 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.[4] In September 2002, it was announced by the Nirvana camp that the lawsuit had been settled, and that "You Know You're Right" would be released on "Nirvana, a one-CD history of the band."[5]


The first song on the album's otherwise chronological track listing is "You Know You're Right", which was also released as a downloadable single. It is followed by "About a Girl", the only inclusion from Nirvana's 1989 debut album, Bleach. The album's producer, Jack Endino, originally saw the song as a potential single, and a live version, from Nirvana's 1993 MTV Unplugged performance, was released as a commercial single to promote the band's MTV Unplugged in New York album in 1994. "Been a Son" is a B-side from Nirvana's 1989 Blew EP, which itself was only a limited release in the United Kingdom, making this version of the song a rarity (a different version, recorded during a radio session in 1991, appears on the band's 1992 compilation, Incesticide). The fourth song on the compilation is "Sliver", which was released as a non-album single in 1990, the band's final release on Sub Pop (the same version appears on Incesticide).

The next four songs, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Come as You Are", "Lithium" and "In Bloom", are the commercially released singles from the band's second album and major label debut, Nevermind, released in 1991. These are followed by "Heart-Shaped Box", "Pennyroyal Tea" and "Rape Me", three singles from the band's third and final studio album, In Utero, released in 1993. The version of "Pennyroyal Tea" included is the remix by Scott Litt, which was prepared for the song's single, but the single was recalled after Cobain's death in April 1994. Prior to the release of Nirvana, this remix was only commercially available on the censored Wal-Mart and Kmart versions of In Utero, released in March 1994. The final studio track is the In Utero song "Dumb", which was never released as a single, but has become a popular song on alternative rock radio stations.[6]

The American version of the album closes with two songs from MTV Unplugged in New York, "All Apologies" and "The Man Who Sold the World", both of which were released as promotional singles from the album (the studio version of "All Apologies", which appears on In Utero, was released as that album's second single in 1993, as a double A-side with "Rape Me"). All non-US versions of the album end with "Where Did You Sleep Last Night", another song from MTV Unplugged in New York, from which it was also released as a promotional single. The Japanese version includes the Unplugged version of "Something in the Way", which was released as a B-side to the "About a Girl" single in 1994, as the second-to-last track.

The album contains liner notes by music journalist David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine.

On June 23, 2015, Universal Music Enterprises announced that Nirvana was being re-released on 45 rpm double LP, pressed on 200-gram heavy weight vinyl and packaged in a furnace black gatefold sleeve with liner notes and a digital download card for 96 kHz 24-bit HD Audio; as well as a 33 rpm single LP 150-gram standard weight vinyl edition which will feature a download card for 320kbit/s MP4 audio.[7] It was also released as a Blu-ray Pure Audio in high resolution 96 kHz 24-bit, available in three stereo audio formats: PCM, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD stereo.[7]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [8]
Drowned in Sound10/10[9]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [10]
Entertainment WeeklyA[11]
Punknews     [14]
Rolling Stone     [15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [16]

Several critics believed that Nirvana was too brief, and omitted key tracks. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that "the presence of a few more tracks, along with placing "You Know You're Right" at the end where it belongs, would have made this collection not just stronger, but possibly definitive. As it stands, it feels like a bit of a cheap compromise and a wasted opportunity."[18] Will Bryant of Pitchfork called the album "an artful selection of the band's most seminal material", but also dismissed it as "a party mix for parents who want to appreciate Cobain's Lennon-esque knack for great melodies without having to click past "Scentless Apprentice" or "Territorial Pissings"...utterly inoffensive: an impulse buy from Columbia House, perhaps, with no more artistic value than The Eagles' Greatest Hits or the Beatles' 1."[13]

In 2019, the NME ranked Nirvana at number 24 on their 28 Best Greatest Hits albums list.[19]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Kurt Cobain except where noted.

1."You Know You're Right" Previously unreleased3:38
2."About a Girl" Bleach (1989)2:49
3."Been a Son" Blew (1989)2:23
4."Sliver" Sliver (1990)2:14
5."Smells Like Teen Spirit"Nevermind (1991)5:01
6."Come as You Are" Nevermind3:39
7."Lithium" Nevermind4:17
8."In Bloom" Nevermind4:15
9."Heart-Shaped Box" In Utero (1993)4:41
10."Pennyroyal Tea" (Scott Litt remix) In Utero (censored version; 1994)3:38
11."Rape Me" In Utero2:51
12."Dumb" In Utero2:34
13."All Apologies" MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)3:51
14."The Man Who Sold the World"David BowieMTV Unplugged in New York3:47
International CD (released outside of the US and Japan) bonus track
15."Where Did You Sleep Last Night"TraditionalMTV Unplugged in New York5:08
European 2002 vinyl and Japanese CD bonus tracks
15."Something in the Way"MTV Unplugged in New York4:01
16."Where Did You Sleep Last Night"MTV Unplugged in New York5:08






Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[49] 5× Platinum 350,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[50] Platinum 70,000*
Belgium (BEA)[51] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[52] Platinum 125,000*
Europe (IFPI)[53] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[54] Gold 17,128[54]
France (SNEP)[55] Gold 100,000*
Italy (FIMI)[56] Platinum 100,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[57] Gold 75,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[58] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[59] Platinum 15,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[60] Gold 35,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[61] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[62] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[63] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[64] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


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Works cited

External linksEdit