Nirvana’s self-titled album, also known unofficially as their Greatest Hits by some people (including myself), was re-pressed in late 2015. The first pressing was only released in Europe in 2002, so this new second pressing marks the first time this record was released in the U.S.. There are some major difference between the first pressing and the second pressing.
As I just mentioned the first pressing was released in 2002 as a double LP and was only released in Europe. It was pressed on black vinyl and comes in a gatefold jacket with silver embossing on the cover. Two inserts are included as well; one with promo photos of the band and the other with liner notes and a lengthy note from David Fricke, former Music Editor for Rolling Stone. There is a silver hype sticker on the cover, which is placed in the top right corner. The hype sticker reads “16 Classic Songs newly mastered featuring the previously unreleased “You Know You’re Right”.” This first pressing shares many similarities with the second pressing.
The second pressing is split into two different versions; a double LP cut at 45 rpm and a single LP cut at 33 rpm. The double LP almost exactly replicates the original version with a few key differences. The second pressing (double LP) is pressed on 200 gram black vinyl, comes in the same gatefold jacket as the first pressing but only includes one insert. The insert with the second pressing has promo photos and live shots, 4 photos in total. The note from David Fricke is runs on both sides of the insert, with the liner notes taking up only one side. It comes sealed in a perforated poly sleeve, which the hype sticker is affixed to. The hype sticker for the first pressing and double LP version of the second pressing are practically identical; both are silver and the most obvious difference being the size of the sticker. The first pressing has a small rectangle and the second pressing has a larger rectangle, likely due to a longer message. The message on the sticker is the same for the most part. The only difference is the amount of songs and mentioning 200 gram vinyl and the download code included. The hype sticker reads (part shared across both pressings) “14 Classic Songs On 200G. Vinyl Audiophile 45 rpm. Digital Download Card of 96kHz 24-bit Audio. Tracks 13 (D3) & 14 (D4) are 44.1kHz 16-bit. Features “You Know You’re Right”.”
The single LP version does not come in a gatefold jacket and has different cover art. Instead of ‘Nirvana’ being in silver embossing, it’s simply printed in white ink. The same insert with the double LP version is included with the single LP version. The record is pressed on 150 gram vinyl instead of 200 gram. The differences don’t end there. In a bit of an odd move the download codes are even different between the two versions of the second pressing.
The download code with the double LP version yields WAV files that amount to over 1 gig. The download code with the single LP version gives you regular MP3s; 320 kbps in quality according to the hype sticker, but the hype sticker is wrong. The single LP download card yields the same WAV files as the download card with the double LP version. I guess some people enjoy WAV files but to me they’re useless due to their size. I’m content with 320 kbps MP3s, I don’t even mess around with FLAC files.
Price was a major concern when this re-press was announced. At first most people were happy because they didn’t have to pay ebay prices for a first pressing, which can run up to $100 depending on condition. I tracked this record for a while on the secondary market and never even found a copy in acceptable condition. Most had terrible ring wear or were beat to hell in all other ways. If I’m spending that much on a record it better be as close to mint as possible. The double LP from the second pressing retails around $40 and the single LP around $25. Many people called it a cash grab as a result, especially considering they pressed two different versions for no reason really. This record was originally pressed as a double LP for a reason, and trying to cram everything onto a single LP must sound horrible. However, I do plan on picking up a single LP for my collection just to keep it complete as I collect releases that come out on different formats (an LP and double LP or 10″ and LP as example).
The biggest difference between the first pressing and second pressing is the track listing. The first press has 16 songs and the second press only has 14. The songs missing from the second pressing are “Something In The Way” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” Both appear in order at the end of the record as the last two tracks on side D. I’m really bummed the second pressing doesn’t include “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” because this is the only official studio release (on vinyl) that includes this song. But I’m not going to spend upwards of $75 for a first pressing just to get one song.
**I don’t own a copy of the single LP yet, but whenever I can find a deal on one I will do a sound comparison between the double LP and single LP versions of the second pressing. From what I’ve been hearing it’s a mixed bag; some people don’t see a difference between them, some people like the double LP better, some people find the single LP terrible and regret buying it.**
*** UPDATE July 2016 – I finally found a deal on the single LP version, $13 shipped, but haven’t had a chance to do a sound comparison yet. I will update this again when I’m able to. ***