Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds started their illustrious career in 1983 in Melbourne, Australia. Nick with his cohorts have become famed for their prolific and inspired works that have spanned numerous genres and musical moods producing 16 studio albums. Heading into their 35th year the band is releasing an amazing collection of their best works. “Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds” out now is a labour of love by the band revealing an embarrassment of riches.
The release actual comes in a wide range of offerings from the standard double release containing 21 songs to a spectacular super deluxe 45 song offering with various excellent enclosures included prose and a memorabilia booklet. “Lovely Creatures” follows the evolution of the band through their many manifestations from bluesy auteurs to ambient balladeers and everything in between. Manifestly the release offers a fantastic entry point for those listeners who always wanted to check out Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but didn’t know where to begin.
Fans are in good hands with “Lovely Creatures” as it was compiled and curated by Nick Cave and founding member Mick Harvey with the help from the current Bad Seeds band members. They raided personal archives, collected memorabilia and in the deluxe and super deluxe versions including a beautiful hardcover book with original essays. The band had looked to release this best of collection in 2015 but with the tragic accidental death of Cave’s son the release was put on hold. In 2016 Cave and the Seeds instead released “The Skeleton Tree” a cathartic album addressing the emotions and grief Cave was going through in the aftermath of his son’s death. Cave refers to the switch up of plans as “the band in a feeling created a different person inhabiting the same old skin… it (The Skeleton Tree) was a product of a strange raw different present.”
However the band also realized the need to recognize and celebrate Cave and The Seeds many past achievements thus work continued on the production of “Lovely Creatures”. The songs that were chosen for the release are those that have aged well and stuck around but also included personal favorites and some that were too big and demanding not to be included. With that being said Cave and the Bad Seeds have left some brilliant songs in the vault for first time listeners to discover on their own. The genius of the four levels of the album is that it allows audiophiles and fans to decide how deep into the vaults they want to journey. Whichever version is chosen the genius of this enigmatic group becomes quickly apparent through the breathtaking compositions they have created and well worth the cost of admission.
For the review I examined the standard 21 song release. It is a wonderfully distilled collection of classics that give a great overview of Cave and the Seeds work. Each song is phenomenal. I highly recommend the standard release as the starting point for uninitiated listeners. It is next to impossible to pick out “must listens” songs as each is noteworthy justifying the best of title. Force to pick, one of the highlights is “Loverman” which is classic Cave and the Seeds with Nick taking on one of his most famous personas; the sinister revival tent preacher/malcontent who seems to be luring you to your doom. On display is Cave doing what he does best creating his own worlds and bringing the listener along to enjoy the drama. With the song he explores the same wheelhouse as musical auteurs Scott Walker and Serge Gainsbourg. Cave and the Seeds jump genres in including “Deanna” which is as radio friendly a song as any music ex could desire. On display here is Cave doing his Van Morrison circa “Gloria” persona. Other exceptional songs that are included are the spectacular “The Weeping Song, Dig Lazarus Dig and Higgs Boson Blues”. These songs are welcome friends to long time fans and tracks that will draw first time listeners back again and again, luring them to go deeper into the discography of the group. Some of my personal favorites on the standard collection are the bluesy piano ballad “People Ain’t No Good”, the lovelorn “Into My Arms” and magnificent “The Ship Song”. The standard issue release ends with “Stagger Lee” a bluesy retell of that classic 1895 tale, which makes for a compelling ending and leaves the listener wanting more.
With 16 studio albums under Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds belt it is more than appropriate for a career summary before the group goes forth once again to produce their own special kind of breathtaking music. “Lovely Creatures” is more than enough proof of why Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are a much beloved and respected band. Captured here is the master painter of narrative snapshots weaving his magic no matter the genre. Fans will be delighted with the release and new listeners will undoubtedly want to join Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on their epic musical journey.