I got the original double 10" box set when it came out on recommendation of a friend who told me he found it so spooky he wouldn't listen to it alone. While that might be an extreme reaction this is still not the sort of thing you would put on when you have people around for dinner, unless you intend to combine some kind of performance art with your serving.
The studio tracks are inconsistent, incoherent and totally absorbing. I remember an initial review saying it deserved 2 squares and an isocelese triangle out of 5 stars, and that is the best description I can think of - although I'd add a trapezium in there as well. Rhetoric is the most noisy but the more ambient tracks are ultimately the most rewarding. The 2 Dierdre tracks are just plain demented.
The live tracks are the safest to listen to but unfortunately haven't aged as well. Without the visual impact of the live performance the voices sound almost like music hall or punch and judy in their excessive emoting. "Theme for Thought" and "Come to Daddy" still do the trick though, providing a rocking spine to the twisted concepts of the lyrics. The others are okay but I still listen to the studio stuff more.
On the whole this is probably not as deep and powerful as A New Form of Beauty, but for an overall picture of the band's two faces I'd get this first and then, if you're brave enough, take on "The Beast"!