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Forever Changing: An Introduction to Nirvana

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Album Review

Forever Changing is a good 14-song distillation of Nirvana's late-'60s Island records, albeit one that leans heavily on material from the first two of their three Island LPs, The Story of Simon Simopath and All of Us. Just one song from the third LP, To Markos III, is represented, that being the six-minute "Love Suite." But a couple of their non-LP single tracks are here too, and one of those ("I Believe in Magic," their first B-side) was one of the best things they recorded, though the other B-side ("Darling Darlene") isn't much of a song. Some would contend that early Nirvana's best appreciated by listening to their whole albums, but unless you're a real big fan, this compilation is actually a preferable listen to any of those individual albums. For Nirvana's orchestrated pop-psych-lite albums could get tiresomely twee taken in full doses, and with some of the fat cut out, listening simply becomes a lot easier and more enjoyable. Their best-known songs — the singles "Rainbow Chaser," "Tiny Goddess," and "Pentecost Hotel" — are all here, of course. Yet the astute programming also allows appreciation of some obscure LP cuts, as well as (perhaps inadvertently) highlighting the influence of Ray Davies on "In the Courtyard of the Stars," though it's more fey than anything the Kinks did during the same era. So why doesn't this attractively packaged release rate as the best Nirvana collection? Simple — for some unforgivable reason, it uses a different, inferior version of "Rainbow Chaser" (minus its psychedelic phasing effects) than the one that was a European hit single in 1968. It's not explained anywhere in the liner notes what the origin of this alternate version is. But regardless of where it came from, its inclusion here is an unforgivable mistake that keeps this comp from being definitive, though fortunately the familiar "phased" version of "Rainbow Chaser" is available on Universal/Island's CD reissue of Nirvana's All of Us.


Formed: 1967 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s

It must have been a rude surprise for Kurt Cobain and company to be hit with a lawsuit over the name of their band once they became internationally successful. In the finish, however, the result was relatively amicable, with the original Nirvana getting together long enough to record a version of Cobain's "Lithium" for a 1996 collection of previously unreleased material. Nirvana appeared in 1967, starting as a six-piece led by Patrick Campbell-Lyons from Ireland, and Alex Spyropoulos from Greece....
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Forever Changing: An Introduction to Nirvana, Nirvana
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