Whether or not this is the best introduction to Nick Cave I am not the best person to judge. But it’s a great collection of songs and one that has made me want to explore more of Cave’s work.
There is considerable variety to the tracks, not surprising given the album spans a long and ongoing career. Mix P. J. Harvey, Tindersticks, and Tom Waits, add a large element of biblical drama, and a touch of new wave, and you may end up with something close to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The songs on this compilation range from lyrical and haunting ballads, to dark and menacing narratives, to tracks with new wave and avant-garde features. Love, death, loss, murder and wrathful deities are the recurring themes. Cave has famously taken inspiration from the Old Testament, and like that great work of literature his songs and musicianship evoke an atmosphere that is, by turns, beautiful and troubling.
There are some outstanding tracks: the stunning, frenzied chant of ‘The Weeping Song’; the gorgeous ‘Straight to You’, ‘Nobody’s Baby Now’ and ‘The Ship Song’; the haunting duets with P. J. Harvey and Kylie Minogue; songs of foreboding like ‘Red Right Hand’, ‘Tupelo’ and ‘The Carny’; and the murderous defiance of ‘The Mercy Seat’.
Overall, this is a tremendous collection, and if you’re new to Nick Cave this seems to me to be a great place to start.