Adecade after Kurt Cobain's suicide, this Nirvana mega-box (containing three CDs and one DVD) offers an alternative history of the most influential rock band of the 1990s, though if you don't have some idea of what Nirvana did and how they did it, there may be a bit of a learning curve involved. In fact the set's finest achievement may be that it captures so much of the chaotic force that enabled the band to place demolition charges under a music business in thrall to stadium gigabands like Def Leppard and Guns N' Roses. Nirvana's feat of moulding indie-band attitude, heavy metal, post-industrial noise and classic pop into an intense incandescent eruption has now been analysed to death.
A handful of songs on With the Lights Out do qualify as both historically interesting and significant music, and these are mainly the songs that were completed and saw official release, or were heavily bootlegged because they were close to release. They include: the Nevermind outtakes "Verse Chorus Verse" and "Old Age"; the 1992 non-LP single "Oh the Guilt" and the "Lithium" B-side "Curmudgeon"; the compilation tracks "I Hate Myself and I Want to Die" (originally released on The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience) and "Sappy" (originally released on No Alternative, where it was titled "Verse Chorus Verse"); the solo acoustic demos of the unreleased songs "Do Re Mi" and "You Know You're Right" (the electric version, initially released on the hits compilation Nirvana, is not present here). That's eight songs.