"Sliver: The best of the box" is a compilation of material from 2004s four-disc box set "With the Lights Out." This new compilation, as its title suggests, curls the best material from the larger box set. Three additional songs, demos of "Spank Thru," "Sappy," and Come as you are" are also included.
The CD includes home demos, radio appearances, and live recordings. The CD flows chronologically, from Cobain's earliest demo with Fecal Matter, to demos recorded in 1994, right before Cobain's death. Some songs are studio demos, while others were recorded on just a boom-box; therefore the quality of these songs varies from poor to good.
"Sliver" both sees the evolution of Cobain as a songwriter, as well as looks at some of his best known songs in their embryonic stage. Some songs, like the stripped down "Sliver" are fantastic and rival the finished product. But even the songs that are of poor-to-fair quality are of historical importance and give the listener an inside look at the songs as works-in-progress.
"Sliver" contains some lost gems that never made it onto the studio albums, like the subdued "Clean up before she comes" and the off-beat rock-a-billy "Ain't it a shame." "Old Age" sounds a bit like a sped-up "Something in the Way," and is up-to-par with the rest of "Nevermind." A home demo of one of Cobain's last songs, "Do Re Me" had great potential. It's a little rough-around-the-edge, but could have been a classic if it had been touched-up and recorded in the studio. Other tracks like Fecal Matter's "Spank Thru" and "Oh the Guilt" don't quite measure up, but should be of interest to fans of the band.
Being mostly a CD of demos, these songs posses an atmospheric, eerie low-fi intrigue, akin to the sound of the Velvet Underground. While the finished songs are ultimately better, these demos are well worth a listen.
Both the demos and live recordings see the band at its rawest, it not finest hour.
If you don't have time and/or money to invest in the larger "With the Lights Out" box set, but are interested in Nirvana's songs as works-in-progress, this CD is highly recommended. The inclusion of the excellent "Old Age" and "Do Re Me," alone is enough reason to buy this album. Fans should also be interested in hearing Cobain's earliest recording, "Spank Thru" (1985) when he was still a teen.