One way to divide Nick Cave's albums is to separate the ones where the primary concentration is on ballads (such as The Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part) and the ones where the primary concentration is on the uptempo and mid tempo rock songs (such as Let Love In and Abattoir Blues). Henry's Dream is very much in the latter camp.
The album is not devoid of ballads ('Loom of the Land', for example, is very good indeed) but I can't help gravitating to songs like 'Papa Won't Leave You, Henry' and 'Jack The Ripper', which defy you not to sing heartily along, and the murder ballad 'John Finn's Wife'.
At the time it came out I can remember this being described as Cave's 'American album' and the influence of blues and rock is certainly felt here. Experimenting with song forms in which loose, quasi-improvised verses lead into big choruses, Cave creates music that is deceptively loose: his lyrics are superb and highly-worked, so any apparent clumsiness is deliberate, but the craftsmanship is not as obvious here as it is on the ballad albums.
As with all of this remaster series, the sound quality is excellent, especially on the 5.1 mix, which seems to be more restrained here than on some of the other albums but which really shines on tracks where the Bad Seeds chip in with additional vocals. The 38-minute documentary gives a decent slab of analysis, although the amount of time devoted to telling you about production difficulties seems strange when the final master is so satisfactory. The package includes live versions of 'The Good Son', 'The Mercy Seat', 'The Ship Song', 'The Carny' and 'I Had A Dream, Joe', and a couple of other bonus tracks. It also includes three promo videos (with soundtracks in stereo for some reason), and all bonus tracks can be downloaded to a portable device via PC. It's a nice touch that you can download the videos in one of three bit rates.
This is an album full of life and spontaneity, with more than a hint of high spirits. It's not my favourite, but it is definitely worth getting.