Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Lovely Creatures - The Best of 1984 - 2014

by Sean Hewson Rating:10 Release Date:2017-05-05

Is there any more pointless activity than reviewing a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds compilation? You know it's going to be a 10. The album's are very rarely below 8 and these are the best selections from them. For those of you who are interested in this kind of thing, Lovely Creatures - The Best of 1984 - 2014 comes in all formats - Double CD, Triple Vinyl, Deluxe 3CD & DVD, Super Deluxe 3CD & DVD with Hardcover Book.

Listening to this 45 track album (from From Her To Eternity to Push The Sky Away) is a huge under-taking but Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are so consistent it's a good waste of a few hours. It's also fascinating to walk through the history of the Bad Seeds, especially if you've only got knackered old CDs or tapes of the older albums. For me, it's great to hear cleaner versions of older songs so you can really hear Blixa Bargeld's insane noise-making on From Her To Eternity or Mick Harvey's awesome bass-playing on the Tender Prey songs. A clearer version of The Carny totally brings it alive, to think that I used to skip this on the previous best of. The Mercy Seat is, incredibly, even better. There is so much going on and it all adds to the whole and makes sense. And it ends with 4 minutes of sloppy backing vocals and ever-growing musical intensity like Sister Ray. Hiding All Away is almost it's equal. Nasty guitar/organ lines, the whiff of chaos with the chatter and laughter and then a huge ending.

It's also fun to feel the various stages pass, in some cases without the knowledge of the participants. The early chaotic Bad Seeds who really hit their stride on Your Funeral...My Trial (must dig that album out), Tender Prey and Good Son. The sheen of professionalism that turns up with Martyn Casey and Conway Savage on the David Briggs-produced Henry's Dream, just in time to add a shimmer to poppy Straight To You. Let Love In perfectly balances the chaos and the new production values. Then it's hits on Murder Ballads (unfortunately Henry Lee isn't here). Ballads and a more mature writing voice on The Boatman's Call. There's only He Wants You from Nocturama - possibly the only time the Bad Seeds delivered a dull album. But then 5 each from Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (must dig that album out too) and Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (almost half the album) as they enter the post-Bargeld years in good health that incredibly continues even after Mick Harvey's departure in 2009. These days there's relative stability with 5 of the 6 members of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds on The Skeleton Tree having been there for more than 20 years.

The highs here are incredible - Tupelo, The Mercy Seat, Red, Right Hand and the huge Hiding All Away sound like no one else. There aren't really lows but I can do without hearing Where The Wild Roses Grow again and Night Of The Lotus Eaters is a bit dull. There's insanity, violence, lots of piano ballads (most notably, Into My Arms), obscenity (Scum and Stagger Lee), even pop songs (Straight To You and There She Goes, My Beautiful World). There's the odd surprise - the almost Acid-Jazz/Under My Thumb-like b-side Come Into My Sleep. Some of the greatest players - particularly Mick Harvey (who's string arrangement for Love Letter is incredible) and Warren Ellis who both do whatever is required by the song (in fact, The Bad Seeds were probably at their best with both in the band on Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus). Nick Cave, of course, fronts it all. Easily identifiable, his voice growing stronger and stronger throughout, as does his lyric-writing (humorous, dark, profane, romantic - he'll turn his hand to anything). He knows you have to work hard, at everything. He knows when to change and make the hard decisions. He also knows that he needs strong people by his side (like in Once More With Feeling where he fondly says of Warren Ellis - 'look at him, holding it all together'). As this compilation only covers up to Push The Sky Away rather than The Skeleton Tree, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have already embarked on filling up the next one.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars