Entertain Us: The Rise of Nirvana

Gillian G. Gaar, Author
Gillian G. Gaar. Jawbone (Hal Leonard, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-906002-89-3
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
Freely acknowledging that the story of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana has already been well-covered elsewhere, Gaar (Green Day: Rebels with a Cause) plumbs the depths to offer an exhaustive account of the early days of the kings of grunge. Though she covers the band's rise to stardom, her primary focus is on the details of the group's early recordings, shows, lineup changes, and tours. Casual listeners will likely tire of the quotidian minutiae Gaar obsessively chronicles—from the day certain members joined, to recording session details and the friends who drove the band to said sessions—, but hardcore fans will devour background trivia, like the story of the band's logo (designer Grant Alden was paid $15) and Cobain's introduction to David Bowie and Leadbelly, two artists the band would later cover in their acoustic performance on MTV. But the real jewels are the many references to Nirvana's "With the Lights Out" box set, a collection of demos, rarities, and other recordings released in 2004 that Gaar worked on. The book works best as a companion piece to the compilation, providing fans with the backstory of various songs, performances, and clips that only get brief descriptions in the official set. Photos. (Aug.)