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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "B-Sides and Rarities"

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 The most notable quality of this Bad Seeds retrospective is how incredibly competent and comprehensive it is: with just a couple exceptions, Cave and company have stuck to including only hard to find, rare, and unreleased material on each disc.
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A quick glance at the track listing will reveal the obvious; there have been plenty of singles, 7" records, compilation recordings, and soundtrack appearances from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since they formed in 1983. Another glance will reveal that there's more to this release than just those b-sides or one-off recordings. The inclusion of radio session tracks, unreleased alternate takes, tribute album songs, and altogether previously unheard pieces have made the near impossible journey of finding all these songs far easier than it would've been previously. Though I love Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, I own very few singles by them and have been less compelled to go looking for the odd appearances that pop up here and there (a Neil Young tribute album, the X-Files soundtrack, etc.) and so this release makes complete and total sense. The first two discs are especially captivating because they contain roughly 35 tracks of material I've never had the chance to hear before. Not included are solo Cave pieces nor Cave guest appearances with other bands (with the exception of "Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum," which was recorded with The Dirty Three and "hidden" on the X-Files soundtrack), but that only makes sense seeing how this is billed as a Bad Seeds related release. B-Sides from each era of the band's history is represented on all three discs, up to and including material recorded during the Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus sessions. There are raw, maniacal, and completely unhinged songs situated next to some of Cave's signature slow and brooding ballads, but the roughly chronological order of the tunes never sounds too uneven or haphazard. Many of the songs sound as though they belong to one another; "Blue Bird" and a cover of Neil Young's "Helpless" sit beautifully beside each other before the rough and rumbling "God's Hotel" annihilates the peace and calm of those performances and the entire "What a Wonderful World" single rolls out gently enough, but is then torn to shreds by an excellent acoustic version of "Jack the Ripper." There is a version of "Where the Wild Roses Grow" with Blixa Bargeld singing Kylie Minogue's part, a version of "What Can I Give You?" with new lyrics, a surprisingly excellent version of "Red Right Hand" with Barry Adamson, new orchestral arrangements, and new lyrics, and many other stand-outs all over each disc. The third CD is divided between outtakes and b-sides from The Boatman's Call, No More Shall We Part, and Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. While this material is less interesting to me than the music on the first and second CDs, it is nice having all the songs from the singles that were released during that time, as well as a couple extras that include the song "I Feel So Good," which was used for Martin Scorsese's documentary about the blues. There is a wealth of material on this triple disc set that will be valuable to all but the most obsessive of collectors. Even those collectors will find plenty to be happy about. For people like me, this is an outstanding collection of songs that I may never have had the chance to hear otherwise.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 July 2005 17:43  


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