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With the Lights Out is a box set by the American rock band Nirvana released in November 2004. It contains three CDs and one DVD of previously rare or unreleased material, including B-sides, demos, and rehearsal and live recordings. The title comes from the lyrics from Nirvana's 1991 single "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
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." 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.
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 promotionalEP 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. "Lithium" was also released as an exclusive iTunes downloadable single on November 22, 2004. The music video for the original version of "In Bloom," made in 1990 and first released on the Sub Pop Video Network Program VHS compilation in 1991, was -re-released to music television to promote the box set.. The video appears on the box set's DVD.
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.
Each of the three CDs loosely represents the rare recordings from three periods in 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.
With the Lights Out received generally positive reviews from music critics, many of whom saw it as a valuable glimpse into the band's 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." John Jeremiah Sullivan of New York Magazine called it "an appropriately eccentric testament to Cobain's talent."
However, several critics felt it contained too much second-rate material never intended for 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." 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." As of 2016, With the Lights Out had sold 546,000 copies in the US alone.
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)
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. Nielson Soundscan reported that as of 2016, Sliver: The Best of the Box has sold 376,000 copies in the U.S. alone.
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.