Nov 13, 2002 at 12:00 am

Foo Fighters
One By One

‘Tis the season for Nirvana no$talgia! From the arrivals of the trio’s greatest hits and Foo Fighter’s One By One to Krist Novoselic’s tour with Eyes Adrift and the publication of Kurt Cobain’s Journals, there’s enough grunge-grade product inundating the market this fall to ensure that everyone’s strolling down memory lane as they head out holiday shopping.

Even Courtney Love has weaseled her way into the spotlight (yet again), plastering her remodeled mug all over the big screen in Trapped. It is, without a doubt, the same stench of marketing synergy that Cobain disgustedly alluded to in the title of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

How sad, then, that Nirvana’s first retrospective reeks of marketing opportunism. In legal limbo the past year over its money-making potential, the 14-track, digitally remastered Nirvana is but a paltry gift to fans, offering just enough (the previously unreleased “You Know You’re Right,” Scott Litt’s “Pennyroyal Tea” mix) to entice both diehards and casual listeners, but not enough to jeopardize sales of future box sets, rarity collections, etc. Such is the nature of greatest-hits packages, but for a band that (however questionably) came to symbolize the antithesis of the profit margin-mentality, it’s depressing that Nirvana sounds like little more than a cash cow.

One By One, on the other hand, is steeped in some awfully suffocating sincerity. Since emerging from Nirvana’s ashes with Foo Fighters in ’95, Dave Grohl has distressingly approached his role as frontman with increasing seriousness. Seven years later, his band’s fourth full-length has some of rock’s heaviest-handed emoting since, well, Nirvana. So while several of these tracks feature Grohl’s best “songwriting” to date (“Burn Away,” “Times Like These”), it’s disappointing that he’s wholly abandoned the sense of humor that initially made Foo Fighters such a refreshing departure from grunge’s (and Nirvana’s) self-importance. Still, compared with Nirvana’s attempt at milking the Cobain legacy, One By One offers far more bang for your holiday buck.

Email Jimmy Draper at [email protected].