My relationship with Nick Cave's music has been brief and sporadic.
The soundtrack to my tour of the South Island, Skeleton Tree brought me back into the world of Cave’s words, stories and the darkness and melodramatic atmosphere of the music.
Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was compiled by Nick Cave, founding member Mick Harvey and with some help from the current Bad Seeds. It provides a small glimpse into each album from the band, and the super deluxe edition features a beautiful hardcover book, a series of original essays and a two hour DVD with rare archive footage. Each edition showcases beautiful, previously unseen photos of the band.
Nick Cave’s statement about the album summed me up perfectly as a fan of Nick Cave but a flippant fan.
“There are some people out there who just don’t know where to start with The Bad Seeds. Others know the catalogue better than I do. This release is designed to be a way into three decades of music making. That’s a lot of songs. The songs we have chosen are the ones that have stuck around, for whatever reason. Some songs are those that demand to be played live. Others are lesser songs that are personal favourites of ours. Others are just too big and have too much history to leave out. And there are those that didn’t make it, poor things. They are the ones you must discover by yourselves.”
Depending on what edition you find yourself with, you will be treated to a slightly different track order, but ultimately you are treated to some classics traversing the whole length of the Bad Seeds era. From the opening, ‘From Her To Eternity’ with the remnants of post-punk from pre-Bad Seeds Nick Cave, all the way through to the blues and Berlin influenced sounds of the mid 80s and into the early 90s. Genre-bending and mixing, Cave & The Bad Seeds challenged our ears as we took in Cave’s storytelling, both as poetry and as prose. Lovely Creatures takes us perfectly through this journey, and if you’re a fan of a particular era, you’ll find it. Equally if you’re not sure where to start, this compilation offers you the perfect smorgasbord of every album. All it lacks is the latest, Skeleton Tree, but hopefully you’ll take Lovely Creatures in and then go find the other albums that agree with you.
Lovely Creatures was originally scheduled for late 2015, as a kind of celebration of 30 years of the Bad Seeds. Nick Cave comments, “Much had happened during that time - the band morphing into as many versions of itself as there were albums to reflect this. It felt, to me, a good time to pay tribute to this unique creation.”
A couple of albums in 2013 and 2015 delayed the process, including Skeleton Tree, hence its omission from the compilation. Despite this, Nick Cave felt now was the time to celebrate the band and their achievements, with this, Lovely Creatures. Only a couple of years later than planned.
I’d say it’s worth the wait, and will hopefully spawn a new generation and army of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds followers. I’ve already been back through the catalogue and found all those songs that missed out. Go and pick this up, and take in the stories that it holds. (FINN MCLENNAN-ELLIOTT)