Hey, Wait! I've Got A New Complaint
Nirvana Albums Ranked Worst To Best
by Pete Crigler
When I was growing up, I was big into Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, but I was late to the Nirvana party. It must have been about ’99 or so before I even bought Nevermind and the Unplugged record, but afterwards, I became a big fan – not super obsessive, but really liking the songs I’ve liked. There was always something different about the band, but it wasn’t until a couple of years later that they stuck out from the rest of the Seattle scene. There’s still something special about the music and those songs, and Cobain’s legacy lives in the fans that still crank “Territorial Pissings” and “School.” So without ado, here is their catalogue from worst to best.
11. Montage Of Heck – The Home Recordings (2015)
True, this is billed as a Cobain effort, but you can’t help but tie it in with Nirvana. Anyone who has read my review of this record or had the unfortunate chance of listening to it knows it is one of the WORST RECORDS ever released. Nothing more needs to be said. Avoid at all costs!
10. Sliver: The Best Of The Box (2005)
Released as an alternative after the pretty good ’04 box set, this contains some of the ‘best’ tracks already released previously. It also contains some extra tracks that weren’t originally released on the box set. This record was nothing but a money grab, designed by Courtney to get some extra bucks from the band’s legacy. Nothing essential here unless you need to own every damn thing the band released.
9. From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah (1996)
An ordinary live album; there is nothing really to recommend here. Just plain average. This topped the charts, but it’s not a record a lot of people call one of their favorites.
8. Bleach (1989)
The very first record and easily their most primitive recording. Obviously a song like “About A Girl” shows the promise that was just around the corner. Tracks like “Negative Creep,” “School,” and “Love Buzz” are just fun and prove that the band never really lost their punk rock edge. This was a very auspicious start and shows what was waiting in just a couple years’ time.
7. Incesticide (1992)
This disc gathered up all the available B-sides and rarities of the time and cashed in on their early success. It’s a great summation of the non-album tracks and includes one of my all-time favorite tracks, “Sliver.” This also includes some of their best covers, including “Molly’s Lips” and “D-7.” It still works as a great time capsule of the era before Cobain lost all will to live and function.
6. With The Lights Out (2004)
The box set everyone had been waiting three years for. But what do you know? It was just decent at best. This release does its job of rounding up all the best outtakes and demos and outfitting them with a new sound, which really works wonders for a lot of these tracks. The DVD is the real draw, though, collecting loads of unseen material into one of the best records of the band that ever existed. While this release wasn’t the Holy Grail people were expecting, it’s still good nevertheless.
5. In Utero (1993)
This was never my favorite record and it hasn’t grown in popularity at all. I love “Dumb,” “Rape Me,” and “All Apologies” but songs like “Pennyroyal Tea” and “Heart-Shaped Box” never really did much for me. It always struck me as a more experimental record, and I’ve always looked as it as lacking some of the same spark that earlier records had. Ultimately, it’s of the most head-scratching records in the band’s catalogue.
4. Live At Reading (2010)
The second best live record the band ever released, recorded at the height of their powers in the summer of 1992, this disc is the best encapsulation of everything that ever made the band so great in the first place. Some great covers, a lot of attitude, and a shitload of noise make this one of the definitive packages of the band’s legacy. Definitely worth checking out if for some indiscernible reason you haven’t already.
3. Nirvana (2002)
Now, I know what you’re thinking: what the hell are you doing ranking the greatest hits disc so high? Well, it’s for the sole purpose of initiating the uninitiated. If you weren’t sure you’d be into Nirvana but were curious as to what they sounded like aside from “Teen Spirit,” then this is the place to go. This is one of the best all-around greatest hits records released in my lifetime. I still think “You Know You’re Right” is one of the band’s best songs and it’s great that it got such a prime showcase on this disc.
2. MTV Unplugged In New York (1994)
Without a doubt, this is the best record in the Unplugged series, but this one really shows off everything that made the band so different and wonderful. Though the album has a melancholy feel, given the circumstances that took place months after it was recorded, it still has that feeling of absolute, perfect, shimmering music. Some of the band’s best performances are here, as well as what many feel is the definitive version of “About A Girl.” Cobain literally pours his soul out on “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” an absolute A+ of performing. Just perfection.
1. Nevermind (1991)
Another one of those “duh” no brainers. You just can’t go wrong with songs like “Polly,” “Territorial Pissings,” “Something In The Way,” and one of the all-time greats, “Come As You Are,” which can still send shivers down your spine on the radio all these damn years later. One of the absolute greatest records ever made and one that will live forever in the hearts and minds of true music fans.