On September 9, 1992 – 25 years ago this month -- Nirvana appeared on the MTV Music Awards to reluctantly perform “Lithium,” and the performance ended with Krist Novoselic tossing his bass in the air. And then it landed on his head. I play bass. Not pleasant.
In celebration(?) of that, here’s a Nirvana vinyl discography from 1988 (their first release) through the spring of 1994 (Kurt Cobain’s death). This is the most efficient (though not least expensive) way to find all of Nirvana’s music on vinyl from their brief time together. So this list is not a guide to outtakes, bootlegs, reissues, foreign pressings, etc. It’s just the most expedient way to get everything on original US and UK vinyl. I have also included notes on what to buy if you just want everything on those new, easy-to-use CDs.
* “Love Buzz” / “Big Cheese” single
Includes picture sleeve. This was the first entry in the Sub Pop Singles Club. A-side begins with a short sound montage that is unavailable elsewhere; the song without the montage is on the “Bleach” LP. The B-side was added to pressings of “Bleach” starting in 1992.
On CD: On the “Bleach” LP, but without the montage intro.
Here's how to spot a LEGITIMATE copy...
-They have a fold-over sleeve (i.e. it’s a 7” by 14” piece of cardboard that is folded in the middle, so it opens like a book; the disk goes in between the folds)
-The text on the back can be seen read. Some copies have the names of Alice Wheeler and Suzanne Sasic too dark to read, or they've been traced over.
-The vinyl is black
-The labels are black with white print
-The matrix information is hand-written as follows:
SP-23-A Why Don't You Trade Those Guitars For Shovels? L-31540
Counterfeits often come close, but have errors in the matrices such as the print being too large (3mm on fakes; 2mm on legit copies). Some copies omit the question mark on the shovels quote, or add quotation marks, or even get the exact order (as listed above) wrong. Other copies dispense with the dashes, or have the information stamped instead of handwritten.
Legitimate copies also have "Kdisc" (the name of the pressing plant) stamped into the groove.
* “Spank Thru”
On the LP “Sub Pop 200” (also released as a boxed set of three 12” singles).
On CD: “Sub Pop 200.”
* “Bleach” LP
First studio album; 11 tracks. Original pressings (1,000 copies) on white vinyl; some copies came with a poster. Second pressing (2,000 copies) on black vinyl; most of these copies came with a poster. A few of the first- and second-pressing copies include a press kit as well. Later pressings are on different colors, and pressings starting in 1992 added the songs “Big Cheese” and “Downer.”
* “Blew” EP
British EP, includes tracks that are also on “Bleach” or “Incesticide,” except the version of “Been a Son,” which is only available here and on 2002’s “Greatest Hits.”
On CD: All tracks on “Bleach” or “Incesticide,” except the version of “Been a Son,” which is only available here and on 2002’s “Greatest Hits.”
* “Do You Love Me?”
From the KISS tribute album, “Hard to Believe: A KISS Covers Compilation” (C/Z Records).
On CD: ““Hard to Believe”; "18 Original Hits Performed By 18 Unoriginal Artists" (PolyGram PMP 011, 2/21/95)
* “Sliver” single
On the U.S. 7” version only, the A-side is followed by a phone call from Sub Pop’s Jon Poneman to a very sleepy Krist Novoselic. On the UK 12”, they add a live version of “About a Girl” from the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon, recorded February 9, 1990.
On CD: On the UK CD single, there is a fourth track, a live version of “Spank Thru” from the Pine Street show. “Sliver” and “Dive” are both on “Incesticide”; the entire Pine Street Theatre show is on the deluxe edition of “Bleach,” but has been remixed. The original mixes are on the 1990 UK CD single.
* “Molly’s Lips”
Split single (with The Fluid) on Sub Pop with a live version of “Molly’s Lips” from the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon, recorded February 9, 1990.
On CD: The entire Pine Street Theatre show is on the deluxe edition of “Bleach,” but has been remixed.
* “Here She Comes Now”
Split single (with the Melvins) on colored vinyl from the Velvet Underground tribute album, “Heaven and Hell Vol. 1” (Communion Records).
On CD: WTLO.
* “Nevermind” LP
Original U.S. pressings are on black vinyl with a black label, and include a custom innersleeve.
* “Smells Like Teen Spirit” single
The UK 12" picture disk (first in a series of four) adds unique versions of “Even In His Youth” and “Aneurysm” (which is different from the one on “Incesticide”).
On CD: “Even In His Youth” is on the deluxe reissue of “Nevermind,” and “Aneurysm” is on WTLO.
* “Hormoaning” EP
Japan/Australia EP released February 5, 1992 to promote the band’s upcoming tour. Contains six tracks, five of which are available on “Incesticide” or on singles listed on this page. One song -- "D-7" – is from an October 21, 1990 John Peel/BBC session and is only available on vinyl here, or on the 2011 RSD reissue of the “Lithium” single (DGC DGCTP 9). This EP was also reissued for RSD 2013.
On CD: All tracks are on “Incesticide” or the reissue of “Nevermind.”
* “Come As You Are” single
The UK 12" picture disk adds live versions of “Endless, Nameless” and “School” (recorded on Halloween, 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle). The US 7” (no picture sleeve) instead has a version of “Drain You” from the same show.
On CD: The entire Paramount Theatre show is on the deluxe edition of “Nevermind,” and may have been remixed. The original mixes are on the 1992 UK CD single.
* “Lithium” single
The UK 12" picture disk adds a live version of “Been a Son” (recorded at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle on Halloween, 1991) and the studio cut, “Curmudgeon.”
A fourth track is added to the UK CD (“D-7”) from a John Peel/BBC session. That cut is only on three pieces of vinyl: the 1992 “Hormoaning” EP, the 2011 Record Store Day reissue of this single (which includes all four cuts on a 10”, DGC DGCTP 9), or the 2013 RSD reissue of “Hormoaning.”
On CD: “Curmudgeon” and “D-7” are on WTLO; “Been a Son” is part of the entire Paramount Theatre show on the deluxe edition of “Nevermind,” and may have been remixed. The original mix is on this 1992 CD single.
* “In Bloom” single
The UK 12" picture disk adds live versions of “Sliver” (recorded at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle on Halloween, 1991) and “Polly” (recorded at the O’Brien Pavilion, Del Mar, California, December 28, 1991). “Sliver” is sometimes mistakenly listed as being from the Del Mar show.
On CD: Both tracks are on the reissue of “Nevermind,” where “Sliver” may have been remixed. The entire Del Mar show was recorded by Westwood One for radio broadcast. CDs – and possibly reel to reel tapes -- of the show were sent to radio stations.
* “Incesticide” LP
Compilation album released December 14, 1992. Original pressings are on blue vinyl and include a custom innersleeve.
* “Oh, the Guilt” single
Split 7” single (with The Jesus Lizard) on Touch and Go Records. British copies (pressed in France) are on blue vinyl with silver labels; jackets have a UPC barcode that is clearly grafted onto the original artwork. American pressings have a better-integrated UPC code, are on black vinyl with black labels.
On CD: Remixed for WTLO.
* “Return of the Rat”
From a boxed set of four 45s titled, “Eight Songs For Greg Sage and the Wipers” (Tim Kerr Records)
On CD: Original mix on "Fourteen Songs For Greg Sage and the Wipers" (Tim Kerr Records TK 917010 TRIB2, 1993); remixed for WTLO.
* “Heart-Shaped Box” single
UK 7” copies have a non-album B-side, “Marigold.” American 12” promo copies have the non-album B-side “Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip” (which was only on non-US CD copies of “In Utero” in 1993).
On CD: Both tracks are on WTLO and the reissue of “In Utero.”
* “In Utero” LP
Studio album released September 21, 1993. Original pressings are on clear, blue-tinted vinyl and include a custom innersleeve. The front cover has a small legend at the bottom reading “Special Limited Edition Disc.” Later or non-American pressings have a UPC barcode on the back that looks grafted onto the original artwork; original American pressings have a better-integrated UPC code.
* “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”
From the various artists compilation, “The Beavis and Butthead Experience” (Geffen).
On CD: “The Beavis and Butthead Experience” (Geffen); remix is on WTLO.
* “All Apologies” single
The UK 12" and 7” vinyl issues add the song “M.V.”
On CD: The original mix is on the CD single from 1993. “M.V.” has been remixed for the reissue of “In Utero.”
* “Pennyroyal Tea”/”I Hate Myself and Want to Die” single
Slated for release in April, 1994, but shelved after the death of Kurt Cobain. A-side was a remix of the “In Utero” track; the B-side would have been the same mix as on the “Beavis & Butthead” compilation. For many years, a batch of supposedly legitimate UK copies of this 45 (with picture sleeve) circulated with collectors, but they are most likely fakes. This single was finally issued for RSD 2014, with the original, album mix of the A-side and a remix of the B-side.
On CD: The reissue of “In Utero” contains both mixes of “Pennyroyal Tea” and the remix of “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” The original mix of “I Hate…” is only on “The Beavis & Butthead Experience.”
* “Pay to Play”
Demo version of “Stay Away” with different lyrics, released only on UK vinyl on the compilation album “Geffen Rarities, Vol. 1” (Geffen/MCA GFL-19247, September 21, 1994).
On CD: WTLO; “DGC Rarities, Vol. 1” (DGC/Geffen/MCA DGCD-24704, July 5, 1994)
CD only releases
No original vinyl release; first vinyl issue was on “No Alternative” for Record Store Day 2013.
On CD: WTLO; "No Alternative," (Arista/BMG 07822-18737-2, 1993).
* “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” (Le Summum, Grenoble, France, February 18, 1994)
No vinyl release.
On CD: “Home Alive-The Art of Self-Defense,” (Epic E2K67486, 1996); this is on the double CD edition only; a later single-disc version does not include the Nirvana track.
* “Rape Me” (“Saturday Night Live,” September 25, 1993)
No vinyl release.
On CD: “SNL The Musical Performances Vol. 2,” (Dreamworks 0044-50206-2, 1999)
* “Spank Thru” (1985 “Fecal Matter” demo); “Sappy” (1990 studio take); “Come As You Are” (1991 boombox version)
No vinyl release.
On CD: Only available on “Sliver: The Best of the Box” (2005), a sampler from WTLO that contains these three exclusive tracks.
So what does this mean to the CD buyer who wants all the music, and isn’t going to track down dozens of 20-30-year-old pieces of vinyl? You need to buy the following…
Deluxe editions of “Bleach,” “Nevermind,” “In Utero” and “MTV Unplugged in New York”
“Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!” (video, 1994)
“From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah” (1996)
“With the Lights Out” (boxed set, 2004)
“Live at Reading” England 1992 (video, 2009)
“Live at the Paramount” Seattle 1991 (video, 2011)
“Live and Loud” Seattle 1993 (video, 2013)
And then to complete the official discography, find…
-intro to “Love Buzz”
-“Spank Thru” (“Sub Pop 200")
-“Do You Love Me?” (“Hard to Believe: A KISS Covers Compilation”)
-“Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” (live, 1994; “Home Alive-The Art of Self-Defense")
-“Rape Me” (live 1993; “SNL The Musical Performances Vol. 2")
-“Spank Thru” (1985 “Fecal Matter” demo); “Sappy” (1990 studio take); “Come As You Are” (1991 boombox version), from the 2005 CD “Sliver: The Best of the Box”
-“Been a Son” and “You Know You’re Right” (Greatest Hits, 2002)
An interesting, CD-only promo radio show featuring interviews with the band and previously released music.
* Nirvana recorded four BBC sessions: three for John Peel (10/26/89, 10/21/90, 9/3/91) and one for “Mark Goodier’s Evening Session” (11/9/91). The 1990 and ’91 sessions are collected on WTLO, “Incesticide” and the reissue of “Nevermind.” The 1989 John Peel session has never been officially released anywhere, but a very nice 7” bootleg EP (somewhat alluding to the design motif from “Blew”) is easily (and cheaply!) available. The session featured versions of “Love Buzz,” “About A Girl,” “Polly,” and “Spank Thru.”
* In 2004, a radio series titled “Nightly Nirvana” began circulating to radio stations. CDs of that show contain a great deal of unreleased material.
* The bootleg series “Outcesticide” has done an outstanding job of cataloging rare and unreleased Nirvana.
For a reference to every song Nirvana has ever released, click here.