To capitalize on the success of 2004's With The Lights Out box set, and to pull in the scraps of people who didn’t have the $30 or so to get it, 2005 releases Sliver: The Best Of The Box. As the title suggests, the rarities compilation as been cut down to a single disc of the Nirvana managements chosen picks, with the added incentive of three previously unreleased demos. The first of which comes from the infamous Fecal Matter demo that persuaded Krist Novoselic to form Nirvana with Kurt Cobain. The track featured on the “best of” has been reported to be the one that broke the camels back and gained Krist’s interest the most, that track being “Spank Thru”, Nirvana’s first song. For those who don’t know, Fecal Matter was recorded at, Kurt’s aunt, Mari Earl’s house back in 1985, with Kurt Cobain on vocals and guitar and the Melvin's Dale Crover on drums and bass. The cassette has been the subject of every hardcore Nirvana junkie’s dreams ever since word broke out about it, but has never seen even a bootleg release up until now. The quality of the recording is poor, Kurt’s vocals are intentionally humorous rather than collected and in tune, and the polished and poppy sound of Nevermind doesn’t even remotely poke its nose into this music, which makes it one very memorable Nirvana landmark. Whether or not anyone will ever get their hands on the entire Fecal Matter demo is unsure as of now, but it definitely would be interesting to hear. The second previously unreleased track is “Sappy”, from a 1990 studio demo. This pre Dave Grohl recording, Chad Channing being the one on the drum kit, is understandably more raw than the 1993 version featured on the box set. Whether or not it surpasses later versions of the song, which there are many floating around, is up to debate, but “Sappy” is with out a doubt amongst Nirvana’s best. The third previously unreleased track does, however, feature Dave Grohl. “Come As You Are”, here represented by a Spring 1991 rehearsal demo, cures the itch for a lot of people who wanted to here how this song progressed, which it turns out to stray not too far from the version found on Nirvana’s classic album Nevermind. As for the rest of the tracks on Sliver, not much can be said.
Nirvana’s management took into consideration what the fans wanted, which gems from With The Lights Out make their appearance. “Do Re Mi”, “Old Age”, and “Oh The Guilt” pretty much needed to be on this release, but a live version of “Floyd The Barber”, the live cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker”, and more than one version of “Rape Me” doesn’t seem to do the compilation much service. To name a couple, “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die” and “Pen Cap Chew” would have been much better choices. Overall, Sliver: The Best Of The Box does a good job of showcasing the feel of With The Lights out, but most certainty doesn’t replace it. With two more audio discs, a DVD, and a 60 page booklet, With The Lights out renders Sliver useless if not for the three new tracks. The cover art of Sliver, as told by RollingStone, was handpicked by Kurt’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. The booklet proves to be a condensed version of what is found in the preceding box set, although it does have extensive information on the songs featured on the disc and some interesting Nirvana photographs that show the progression of the band.
For those who already have 2004's box set, there is still a purpose in getting Sliver: The Best Of The Box as well, especially considering you can easily find it for under $10. For those who don’t own the box set, this will do until you can get it. With enough material yet to be released on a mainstream level to do this whole box set and best of thing over again a time or two, a good portion of which are new songs altogether, the future seems bright for new and old Nirvana fans. Presented chronologically, Sliver ranges Nirvana’s gritty and ambitious beginnings, to its somber yet promising end. As far as the music goes, there are some great tracks on here, but as far as being the best of the box, you're better off making your own mix.