Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds -  Lovely Creatures: The Best Of

Where do I begin? This is the question when approaching the massive musical legacy of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as well the question I am asking myself when tasked with putting into words how important said legacy is both to me and to the history of recorded music. Since 1984 Nick Cave has been making music with, or as, The Bad Seeds. Quick history lesson – Nick Cave first hit the scene in 1980 fronting the genre-bending Australian outfit The Birthday Party. A musical time bomb in every sense of the phrase, The Birthday Day Party disbanded by '83 after a final (and essential) EP entitled The Bad Seed, which included a track with soon to be collaborator Blixa Bargeld of Einsturzende Neubauten. This final EP saw a shift in approach which would lay the groundwork for The Bad Seeds to come; Nick Cave was emerging as a true songwriter and a master of mood, surpassing his previous role as simply a vocalist / frontman. Firmly rooted in punk aesthetics, Cave released the debut album under his new moniker From Her To Eternity in 1984, and the world hasn't been the same since.
Lovely Creatures, The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, is the first retrospective compilation of The Bad Seeds ever released. It serves as a most excellent road map to guide you through the highways and byways of their 30+ year career. With a musical history that varies in style and substance as much as The Bad Seeds catalog does, it can be intimidating in terms of knowing where to start. As a massive devotee to Nick Cave & his lovely Seeds, I am most impressed with how Lovely Creatures covers all the various incarnations of this essential band. From their earliest abrasive and cold / Gothic Americana (“From Her To Eternity”, “Tupelo”, “The Weeping Song”), to their initial strides towards a more conventional yet wholly singular balladeer song crafting (“The Ship Song”, “Stranger Than Kindness”), a clear path emerges that leads to the world Cave has created (“Stagger Lee”, “Loverman”, “Where The Wild Roses Grow”). By the 90's Cave had quite clearly established himself as a narrative songwriter, a storyteller first and foremost, and the best of the best of those tracks are included on this compilation, (“Red Right Hand”, “The Mercy Seat”, “Deanna”). However he would round out the decade by starting to look inward rather than outward, resulting in some of his finest and most intimate material, (“Into My Arms”, “People Ain't No Good”), that are also found in the grooves of this triple LP.
Where this collection ends is where I feel his most exciting period of music begins; with the release of Push The Sky Away and the introduction of the abstraction into the realm of the Bad Seeds. As Cave has put it himself, the narrative song craft may have served a purpose at a previous time in his life where he needed a clearly defined story to tell himself in order to make sense of his world. His current phase of writing reflects the belief that life offers no such logic or story arc, and so his interests now lie in illuminating the more surreal aspects as in “Jubilee Street”, “Higgs Boson Blues” and  “We No Who U R.” It’s of the world we all find ourselves in. So the question now has an answer – where do you begin? You begin with Lovely Creatures. If any one of the many incarnations of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds has intrigued or bewildered you, by the end of this collection you should have a pretty clear idea of where to go depending on where you are. What this collection proves is that Nick Cave has created not just a universe, but a language that can make sense of the darkness that looms large over both his world and ours. Let this record be your guide. (Adam)
Check out this promo trailer here.