If these are his cast-offs, it's little wonder that Nick Cave has remained...
Chris Long 2003
Having produced his finest album in a decade, and made it a double one at that, Nick Cave can be forgiven for putting his feet up and reaping the rewards of a compilation of cast-off tracks. Who could deny him that? Only thing is, he's on record as saying that this is his favourite Bad Seeds album. It's quite a claim to make.
It could be simple bravado. Three discs of tunes that have been previously housed on flip-sides, flexi-discs and studio floors doesn't make the most enticing prospect, but Cave's output is never as simple as one album full of tunes at a time, and it's of little surprise to find that this is a compilation of rare gems and flashing wonders that many an artist would have been happy to include first time around.
Covering every corner of his 21 year, post-Birthday Party career, it stands not only as a tribute to a man whose talent is yet to dull, but also as a lesson in progression. All the tracks are unmistakably Bad Seeds fare - even the occasional cover versions that rear up between the originals - and they deal with their emotion, their ire and their fire, their love and their pain in so many ways that the onslaught is quitedizzying.
Acoustic versions of harrowing fearsome turns like "Deanna" and "The Mercy Seat" sit alongside soundtrack works for Wim Wenders films. The Bad Seeds' first b-side, "The Moon Is In The Gutter", casually lolls before recent works "She's Leaving You" and "Under This Moon". Duets with Shane MacGowan (a truly shambolic desolation of "What A Wonderful World") and the original "Where The Wild Roses Grow", complete with drummer Blixa Bargeld's very un-Kylie-like counterfoil, create sparks before the weighty work-through that is "O'Malley's Bar" (Parts 1, 2, 3 and Reprise).
This is a treasure trove for the inner sanctum, a lover's tick-list of how darkness can sound so sweet, and while it may become a touch trying at times (particularly in the covers of traditional song "King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O" and Leonard Cohen's "Tower Of Song"), the sheer weight of splendour on offer rolls over any problem moments like a tide across the wrinkled sand. If these are his cast-offs, it's little wonder that Nick Cave has remained intoxicatingly essential for over two decades.