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For fans, this year could be Nirvana

These may be good times for fans of Nirvana.

Though the band has been kaput since the death of founder Kurt Cobain a decade ago, it never ceases to create a buzz with each new journal, book and uncovered gem that hits stores.

2004 is allegedly the year fans will see the light of the fabled Nirvana box set _ the one that Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana's surviving members, have been bickering about with Courtney Love, a.k.a. the Widow Cobain, since 1999. (If you're a fan of Love's music, read on to get up to speed on her new solo music career.)

A refresher: Love was granted an injunction in 2001 barring the Nirvana boys from releasing any previously unavailable Nirvana tunes.

Now everyone's kissed and made up, well, as much as it's possible to make up with the irascible Love.

The rumor has been that the box, which Novoselic once said contains tracks that didn't make the cut for In Utero and a rare mix of Smells Like Teen Spirit, may reach stores this year.

WEB SITE: In the meantime, fan site Nirvanaclub.com has posted tracks from the band's first live show at a March 1987 keg party in Raymond, Wash. The performance features a 20-year-old Cobain, Novoselic and Nirvana's original drummer, Aaron Burckhard, playing nine songs, including a raucous cover of Led Zeppelin's Heartbreaker.

FOR THE READERS: Look for the book Teen Spirit: The Stories Behind Every Nirvana Song (Thunder's Mouth Press, $23.95) by Chuck Crisafulli. It's strange when you realize Nirvana released just five albums in its lifetime.

But what an impact those records made. The band's passion and Cobain's antiestablishment ideals and his ability to voice chaotic personal turmoil helped a generation express itself.

The author traces Nirvana's history from a tiny band on the Seattle circuit into superstardom, interviewing crucial people and delving into the stories behind Cobain's songs from the Bleach album all the way through In Utero.

The book includes plenty of photos, too.

SOLO LOVE (THIS IS THE PART ABOUT COURTNEY'S NEW ALBUM): Love, 39, has garnered so much praise for her acting chops (The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon) and so much attention recently for her wild lifestyle (Did she really lose custody of 11-year-old Frances Bean? Why did she break into her ex-boyfriend's house? Did she kick her OxyContin habit?), we almost forgot she used to play music in a punk band.

Alas, the mighty Hole, the group Love fronted from 1989 until 2002, is no more. Fans of Love will be happy to know she's releasing America's Sweetheart, her cheekily titled solo debut, in February, after months of legal hassles with record companies. (Oh, Courtney, are you ever out of court?)

The album finds Love paired with Linda Perry, the songwriter extraordinaire who wrote all those hits for Pink (Get the Party Started) and Christina Aguilera (Beautiful), so expect something big. Former Hole drummer Patty Schemel plays on a bunch of tunes, as does Samantha Maloney, who also played drums for the band.

Who else appears on America's Sweetheart? Former MC5 guitar man Wayne Kramer, Girls Against Boys' Scott McCloud, and indie rock goddess Kim Deal, of Pixies and Breeders fame.

One of the album's tunes, Julian, is rumored to be about the frequently intoxicated Julian Casablancas, 25-year-old lead singer of the Strokes.

QUOTE: "I've been labeled as a bit of a waster in the past. All I want to say is, from now on, all will be well."

_ Courtney Love, on her determination to live clean in 2004, in Rolling Stone.

Gina Vivinetto is the St. Petersburg Times pop music critic. Write her at ginasptimes.com.

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