Nirvana, With the lights out

By: Andrew Olson

Kurt Cobain, once a name that was the picture of grunged out, flannel patterned America, died ten years ago. He lived a tortured artist’s existence before passing away at the mythical rock age of 27. The void in music is still felt today, but after the release of With The Lights Out, maybe something could be salvaged?

Nirvana in Buddhism is the extinction of desire and individual consciousness, or a goal hoped for but apparently unattainable. With three audio discs and one DVD, With The Lights Out makes up for lost time with a vengeance. This is what record executives call the "Box Set". With a release of Rock’s coveted "box set" a band moves from the prolific "Best of" or "Greatest Hits" to the mythical "Box Set. The unreleased goodies that fans coveted and collectors traded over the Internet. These were the moments that the everyday Joe wasn’t supposed to hear; much like most of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s beliefs. Nirvana didn’t start anything, but finished so much. Were they punk, rock, heavy metal, glam rock, or some other label? Probably not, which led to a new label, "Grunge" (Later with Green Day "Alternative").. Today if you look up Grunge in a Dictionary the definition is, "One that is grungy, rock music incorporating elements of Punk Rock and heavy metal; also the untidy fashions typical of fans of grunge."(Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) There are levels to a band’s infamy, none burns brighter than creating so many things that you hate. Which is probably what killed Kurt Cobain.

Many times things have simple definitions, but to a generation "Grunge" could be defined by only one band, Nirvana.. The reluctant saviors of the lost minds and alternative souls.. Dylan’s "Rolling Stones".. Where Dylan would cringe if a moshpit developed at a concert, "Grungers" would embrace it. The fear, energy, angst, and "Teen Spirit" was in full view when fans slammed into each other. Gone were painted fingernails, combat boots, and spiked leather coats with the smell of AquaNet hairspray. Replaced by Dr. Martens, Dickies, and cotton flannels bought at a minimum price.

"It was the music… that’s what brought us together.. that was the mission.." Krist Novoselic (bass, Nirvana)

Disc one of With The Lights Out begins in 1987 at a house party in Raymond, Washington with the song "Heartbreaker" written by the great Led Zeppelin. It ends with a 1989 recording of "Polly" (Pre-Dave Grohl, Drummer). This disc is awesome as we hear a great songwriter finding his voice. At a time when hair bands owned America, an underground sound was being built on a foundation of The Beatles, Punk, The Melvins, Leadbelly, The Meat Puppets, and a noise growing out of the Upper Northwest. This noise was raw and exposed an open wound on the eardrums to the salt of Punk Rock.

Where Disc one is the uncooked sound of teen angst, disc two is the tempting smell of a band coming into it’s own. A fast moving vision of sound explodes onto a scene of waiting ears with songs like "Opium" and "Lithium" from a radio station recording in 1990. The depressive element and impressive sound became clearer, and the band grew louder. The CDs move chronologically through time giving the listener the hindsight to evolve with each disc. This historic view of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" makes this song on Disc two the "Blue Suede Shoes" of the last Rock & Roll era. These are the outtakes and live performances of the recording of the multi-platinum selling NevermindAlbum.

Disc three shows the conception and the unfinished vision of In Utero. Several recordings on this CD were done at the Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN. They were produced by Steve Albini, who had recently made an impressive recording of PJ Harvey’s "Rid of Me." The sad thing is that the drugs and money settled into Kurt’s art and created a home for chaotic music and lifestyles..This is reflected on this CD with some great live recordings, unreleased tracks and acoustic goodies.

This is 2005 and no Box Set would be complete without the DVD. This is the best part of With The Lights Out. Early we see Kurt singing to a wall and playing in a small room (Krist’s Mom’s house). There is some great footage of a young Kurt playing guitar and singing to Led Zeppelin’s "Immigrant Song". The DVD moves through a time warp rolling through the years of Nirvana’s evolution. It has hours of video and even a great rendition of "Season’s In The Sun".

The Box Set is simple and packed to a moshing point of material. It has the quality of a historical recording of the last breath of rock… The death rattle.. Nirvana wasn’t just a band, it was hope. Hope of a world saved from MTV and corporations. Hope for the masses of hippies’ kids who grew up in a divorced post-punk era. Too bad Kurt was better at creating hope for the youth of America and lost his along the way.


Ashlee Simpson: All that money gone to waste?

It almost seemed like the record companies were finding a formula?

Not that it changes anything, but there is not the outrage that appeared when Milli Vanilli first had a record skip. It shows something about the music industry today, and the media itself. Franchise performers are way to protected, if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.

There were a few ways that this situation was handled poorly. If you watch the tape on the homepage link you can see the band begin to play after a few seconds of the tape playing the wrong song. They come in one by one and overlap the tape running in the background. What does that have to do with anything? Two things….

First the only thing we don’t hear is Ashlee Simpson.. Her mic was probably off because the tape was running to only cover the singing portion. If you watched her MTV special it was obvious that her voice was not up to par and the result is overbubbing. She does her best to dance around the stage and ends up looking like a fool.. Watch the second version from the link to see that.

The second thing that is horrible is at the end of the show she blames her band for playing the wrong song. This is part of the problem with a solo artists today, they are too big headed. The band realized that it was the wrong song and came in within seconds to cover the void. Ashlee jumped around like an idiot and ran off of the stage. For her to blame her band when they performed very well is an insult. We here would like to say the band was awesome to cover up like that, maybe it has happened before?

Say what you want about videos and TV shows that cater to artists who don’t perform live, it is a part of the business… BUT ROCK AND ROLL? NO WAY!! This just shows how much of a joke the entire record industry is today. All that money they spent building up Ashlee Simpson now becomes wasted…



Rick James passed away this morning at 9:20 AM in his sleep of natural causes at his Los Angeles home, per his spokesperson. He was 56 years old. He is survived by his 3 children (Ty, Rick Jr., Tazman) and 2 grandchildren (Jasmine and Charisma).

Last month, he performed his hit "Fire & Desire" with Teena Marie at the BET Awards. He had finished an album and was preparing for its release next year. He was also in discussion with various studios for a movie based on his life.

Born in Buffalo, NY, known as the King of Punk Funk, and the bad boy of Motown, Rick James blended the hard core funk of his predecessors James Brown, Sly Stone and George Clinton with the Rock and Roll theatrics of the Rolling Stones and Kiss. Rick James was the quintessential "Super Freak," a term he coined in the 1980's with the multi-platinum song he wrote, arranged, produced and performed sharing that same title. The single catapulted the album Street Songs to #1 on the R&B charts and #3 on the pop charts. This mega-talented, multi-Grammy and American Music Award winner played at least five different instruments and had not only sold millions himself, he wrote and produced songs for Eddie Murphy, Mary Jane Girls, The Temptations, Teena Marie and Smokey Robinson, all selling millions as well. He licensed his work for sampling by artists such as Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu and MC Hammer, whose sample of "Super Freak" for the hit single "U Can't Touch This" made Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em the biggest selling rap album in history.

Details on the funeral will be announced shortly.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society

Other Updates: As many of you know, Rick had been touring and performing various concert dates and public appearances up until the time of his death. He appeared to be in great health and his untimely passing has been a great shock to his family, friends and fans.

Rick James died in his sleep sometime during the morning of Friday, August 6, 2004. He was found in bed at roughly at 9 AM by his personal assistant and was pronounced dead at 9:20 when paramedics arrived. His cause of death has been determined to be pulmonary/cardiac failure with his various health conditions of diabetes, stroke, and pacemaker being listed as attributing factors.

Rick recently completed his memoir "Confessions of a Super Freak," and the book and television movie will still continue as planned. No firm release dates have been set for the book or the movie.

Rick had also recently completed a new album. Efforts are underway to have this CD released by the end of the year.

(From Rick James Website)



LONDON, July 13, 2004

"It's like finding the end of the rainbow in Australia," The Times quoted Claughton as saying. "I spotted one tatty old suitcase, which frankly I wouldn't have given house room, but when I picked it up there was something in it."The Times of London newspaper reported Tuesday that photos, concert programs and unreleased recordings were among the loot found in a suitcase purchased from an Australian flea market by a man.

Some people believe that the find is the missing "Mal Evan’s Archieve". Mr. Evans was shot by police in Los Angeles after he pulled out a fake gun in 1976. According to the Times the suitcase has been lost since the investigation long ago. Mal Evans was a roadie and sound man for the Beatles when they were still together. "Fraser Claughton, 41, from Tinkerton, England, found the suitcase in a small town outside of Melbourne, The Times said. Realizing the suitcase was not empty, he bought it for about 50 Australian dollars ($36 U.S.).

The 4½ hour reel-to-reel tape recording includes John Lennon and Paul McCartney experimenting with alternative versions of some previously unrecorded tracks. The collection also includes previously unknown versions of new recordings of We Can Work It Out and Cry Baby Cry." As reported by the Associated Press.

The Times put an extract from another of the newly discovered recordings, "I'm in Love," on its Web site,

The tapes, labeled "Abbey Road... not for release," will be evaluated by the Beatles' record label, Apple, and examined by experts to determine where they came from and their authenticity.


Britney Spears, Opps you ended your career?

(By: Ms. RockStar)

So Britney Spears broke her knee and fell in love. Her guy, a dancer, is pure sleaze. A month ago there was a piece saying that Christina was hotter than Britney. The response from people was that we were nuts for writing something like that. Little could they have known that Britney wouldn't have to take her clothes off to be slutty. Why the dis? Well for someone who cannot sing and has been merely a pretty face lipsynching to over produced music; Britney was the "Queen of POP". The man she grabbed onto was married with one young child and one 7 months along. Britney was begging the fertile boy to marry her, she then bought herself a big ring. I guess the same way she fakes singing has moved into her social life. The evil stepmom is taking a father away from his family, and when the mother of his child is 7 months pregnant. And this is who young girls look up too? Maybe Christina looks like a sleazy slut, but Britney is THE REAL THING?


Ray Charles: In His Own Words...

"When I was a kid three years old, I was already trying -- whenever I heard a note -- I was already trying to involve myself with it.

There was this wonderful man named Wylie Pitman who was one of the first people to encourage me. As a youngster I would jump in the chair next to him and start banging on the piano keys while he was trying to practice. And he would say, "Oh no, son, you don't play like that; you don't hit the keys with all your fingers at one time. I'm going to show you how to play a little melody with one finger." He could have easily said, "Hey kid, don't you see I'm practicing? Get away, don't bother me." But instead he took the time to say, "No, you don't do it that way." When Mr. Pitman started playing, whatever I was doing I'd stop to go in and sit on that little stool chair he had there." Ray Charles

"Things started changing fast shortly after that. I guess the first major tragedy in my life was seeing my younger brother drown when I was about five years old. He was about a year younger, and a very smart kid. I remember that well; he was very bright. He could add and subtract numbers when he was three-and-a-half years old. The older people in the neighborhood, they used to say about him, "That boy is too smart. He's probably not going to be very long on this earth."

You know old folks, the superstitions they have. Anyway, we were out in the backyard one day while my mom was in the house ironing some clothes. We were playing by a huge metal washtub full of water. And we were having fun the way boys do, pushing and jostling each other around. Now, I never did know just how it happened, but my brother somehow tilted over the rim of this tub and fell down, slid down into the water and slipped under. At first I thought he was still playing, but it finally dawned on me that he wasn't moving, he wasn't reacting. I tried to pull him out of the water, but by that time his clothes had gotten soaked through with water and he was just too heavy for me. So I ran in and got my mom, and she raced out back and snatched him out of the tub. She shook him, and breathed into his mouth, and pumped his little stomach, but it was too late.

It was quite a trauma for me, and after that I started to lose my sight. I remember one of the things they tried to save my sight for as long as they could was to have my mama keep me away from too much light. It took me about two years to completely lose all sight, but by the time I was seven, I was completely blind. That's when I went to St. Augustine's school for the blind.

Strangely enough, losing my sight wasn't quite as bad as you'd think, because my mom conditioned me for the day that I would be totally blind. When the doctors told her that I was gradually losing my sight, and that I wasn't going to get any better, she started helping me deal with it by showing me how to get around, how to find things. That made it a little bit easier to deal with. My mother was awful smart, even though she'd only gotten to fourth grade. She had knowledge all her own; knowledge of human nature, plus plenty of common sense.

As long as I can remember, music has always been something extraordinary in my life. It's always been something that completely captured my attention -- from the time I was three, when Mr. Pitman was showing me these little melodies. My first love was the music I heard in the community: blues, church gospel music, and country and western. That's why I love country and western today, because I heard a lot of it when I was a kid. My mom would let me stay up to listen to the Grand Old Opry on Saturday night. That's the only time I got to stay up late. I heard the blues played by Muddy Waters and Blind Boy Phillips and Tampa Red and Big Boy Crudup. And of course every night if you listened to the right station, you might pick up a little Duke Ellington or Count Basie. But the bulk of what I heard of blues in those days was called "race music," which became rhythm and blues, and rhythm and blues later was called soul music.

I wasn't quite 15 when my mama died. That was the most devastating thing in my whole experience -- bar nothing, period. It happened while I was away at school, and they didn't want to tell me about it. They just called me in to the principal's office and said that I needed to go home right away. When I got there I found out from Miss Mary Jane, a lady that helped my mom raise me and take care of me; she gave me the news. From that moment on, I was completely in another world. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep -- I was totally out of it. There's no way to describe how I actually felt. I was truly a lost child.

My mama had a friend that lived in Jacksonville, Florida, and after she died I went there to see this lady, whose name was Lena May Thompson, and her husband. They weren't any kin to me; they were just friends of my mama and when she passed they just took me in like I was their own child. They were wonderful people. I stayed in Jacksonville for a year or so working in little bands for musicians like Henry Washington. Whenever he would get a job, and if he could use me, I would work for four dollars a night. Later I went to Orlando, and it was the same thing. I would get jobs with a fellow named Joe Anderson, who had a band there. I stayed about a year before going to Tampa to work with a couple of bands there. I played for two fellows, Charley Brantley and Manzi Harris, and I even worked with a hillbilly band called The Florida Playboys. I learned how to yodel when I was with them.

During those years I was totally in love with Nat King Cole's music. I ate, slept, and drank everything Nat King Cole. I wanted to be like him because he played the piano and sang and put all those tasty little things behind his singing. That's what I wanted to do, so he became my idol. I practiced day and night to sound like Nat Cole, and I got pretty proficient at it, too. One morning I woke up and, still laying in bed, something said to me, "Where is Ray Charles? Who knows your name? Nobody ever calls you, they just say, 'Hey, kid, you sound like Nat Cole,' but they don't even know your name." I knew right then I was going to have to stop singing like Nat, but I was scared to because I could get jobs sounding like him. I finally told myself, "Ray, you have got to take a chance and sound like yourself -- period."

After arriving in Los Angeles around 1950, I made a record called "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand." It started making a little noise -- in the black community, of course -- and Swingtime thought it would be a good idea if Lowell Fulson and I went out on the road together as a package, 'cause Lowell had "Everyday I Had the Blues" and I had "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand." And so that's what we did.

By 1959, my career was on the fast track. Although I didn't know it when I signed with ABC, things were about to start happening for me at a much faster pace then I ever thought possible when I was a kid back at the St. Augustine's school. But that's another story, for another time."

Ray Charles (1930 - 2004)

  • #1 HIT Georgia - 10 Weeks 1960
  • #1 HIT The Road Jack - 11 Weeks 1961
  • #1 HIT I Can't Stop Loving You - 14 Weeks 1962
  • #2 HIT You Don't Own Me - 9 Weeks 1962



Loretta Lynn, Jack, and Meg White are releasing a CD in late April titled: Van Lear Rose

What do you get when you mix the most popular artist of today and one from the past? We are hoping for a great CD! For those of you who remember Coal Miner's Daughterwith Siddy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones; or Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn singing and flirting... Meet the next generation. Although Doo Lynn died in 1996 Loreta is still around and going strong. She has not had an album since the 80s so this is long overdue. To have Jack and Meg White playing and producing the new CD is a crossover if there has ever been one. (CONTINUED BELOW)

On the CD coming out there is a duet with Jack White called, "Portland, Oregon". It has overlays of loud, indie-rock reverb and has already created a buzz from Entertainment Weekly Magazine.

For those of you who don't know who these artists are we will link them on the ROCK TIMELINE and here to sites that have bios and songs. The White Stripes were an extrememly popular band last year, and this magazine's favorite. Their album was gritty and had everything that good rock stands for. It was also the only album we have heard in the past several years that is great all the way through. Something that hasn't been seen since the Beatles or Doors of Classic Rock.

Loretta explains everything on her website, which you can click to below or here. She has written 13 original songs that were played with the White Stripes. She tells on her site about when Meg and Jack visited her and cooked together. Jack, 28 years old, and Loretta, 69 years young, hit it off right away. The White Stripes covered Lynn's tune X-Rated on an album in 2001. From there they performed together which led to the new album coming.

YES to the return of the past! Yes to the Future! Maybe Rock is not dead? Jack White is a true FOUNTAINHEAD for what he has done! I will have an entire article on him soon! Check out his website and a Loretta Lynn site below.





The Doors have been a favorite in American bands since Jim Morrison first belted out tenor poetry with a blues man backing him up. The End, written by Jim Morrison and the Doors music group was an extremely popular song in the summer of 1967. It was written to reflect a movie tempo, changing and quickening as it lead to the climax. This was a music form that was not seen in the years before as Rock and Roll came bursting onto the scene. Jim Morrison wrote the song originally as a love song saying, "This is the end, beautiful friend, the end". As he performed The End one night at the infamous Whisky A Go Go he went off on a regular improv and began to recite poetry. AS the music slowed he told the audience of an oedipal fantasy about killing his father and having sex with his mother. As he gyrated the audience moved like a giant acid wave... Following his every move.

Not long after the show the Doors were fired from the Whiskey and signed to a record deal. John Densmore tells a story in the commentary about the event on The Doors Collection DVD. He said that Jim was hiding under the bed wearing only his cowboy boots when the band went to retrieve him for the show. Jim Morrison also loved The Living Theater, a UCLA theater group that pressed audiences to experience various emotions.

It is because of those events that the band The Doors is still going strong. Even with the death of Jim Morrison over 30 years passed the Doors almost seem more popular today then ever. I will be at the show on April 23rd and after there will be a full review on this website.