After 1999’s There is Nothing Left to Lose, the Foo Fighters fell far. Gone were driving, exciting songs like “Everlong” and “Monkeywrench” (“Hero” could’ve been included in that group, save for the abuse “Varsity Blues” bestowed on it) and in their place were sloth-pop ballads like “Next Year.”

Paul Wong
Nirvana
Nirvana
Geffen
Paul Wong
Foo Fighters
One by One
RCA

One by One (the band’s latest set) doesn’t find the Foos returning to its The Colour and the Shape (their best album) form songs in any way other than the guitars are loud again. Instead of emotion and drive, Grohl’s songs have lost their edge, an edge sharpened over and over through the mid’90s, when the Foo Fighters were one of a handful of “rock” bands worth listening to. They certainly aren’t now.

One by One is faux-energetic, more than it is energized. There is some semblance of a band attempting to “rock,” in fact, the Foo Fighters wanted to rock so hard, that they recorded the album a second time, after Grohl didn’t like the first finished product. It is easy to tell how far the Foo Fighters have fallen, in listening simply to the new/old/lost/found Nirvana single “You Know You’re Right.” In a world of Nirvana tracks, the song is a stinker, but compared to the best song on One by One “You Know You’re Right” is musical gold.

Finally, the lawsuit was settled, or settled enough for the holy grail of Nirvana songs to be released. At least that’s what the Nirvana leftovers and the Nirvana left-behind would have us believe. The self-titled Nirvana “greatest hits” collection is impossibly painful to listen to, largely because there are such grevious omissions from the record. Obviously giant-hit/career-launcher “Smells Like Teen Spirit” made the cut, but gems like “Drain You” and “On a Plain” fall only on the 10 million or so pairs of ears who bought Nevermind the first time around.

In Utero, the band’s second, last and best studio album was well-picked over by the Nirvana-greatest-hits task force. Top tier tracks like “Heart-Shaped Box” and “Pennyroyal Tea” are included, along with the excellent “Rape Me.” The overrated “All Apologies” unfortunately appears, leaving tracks like “Serve the Servants” or “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle” off the collection..

The myriad forgotten and unused great songs in the Nirvana back catalog lead to the biggest problem with an album like Nirvana, for a band like Nirvana. Both studio albums, Nevermind and In Utero are greatest hits collections in their own right. Even worse, a Nirvana box set will likely find its way to store shelves in the next year, rendering Nirvana both obselete and useless.

Without stretching too deep, it is ambitious to try and catalog Nirvana’s greatest hits with a 14 song selection. Ostensibly, the release of this collection was done simply to allow “You Know You’re Right” to reach airwaves – while the song deserves the radio play it’s generating, consumers don’t deserve a hastily put together sloppy greatest hits collection, especially from a band whose career as a Pixies cover band spanned just two records.

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