Without a doubt this is one of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds's most original albums. True, it's far from Cave's most accessible, but it's certainly one of a kind. Lugubrious, drunken phantasmagoria at its finest. Fraught with danger & eerie intensity.
Cave's delivery is debauched to say the least. As if he's about to nod off on the edge of an abyss. At other times, howling at the bottom of an empty well. Throughout, the Bad Seeds create an atmosphere of slow burning tension that on more than one occasion lives up to threat and erupts with a vengeance. Overall it's a narcotic pull into the maelstrom.
As for this long overdue reissue series of Cave's 1st 4 albums, it's nice to finally hear Your Funeral in its originally intended sequence. (might add the initial vinyl was released as a double EP).
At the time, anything resembling a traditional ballad was a rare commodity on a Bad Seeds record. Kicking off an album with such a haunting, dreamlike song may have thrown some fans for a loop. "Sad Waters" is quite simply one of the finest ballads Cave has ever penned. As dreamlike as it is, there's never been anything quite like what follows.
All reverie suddenly turns to nightmare. "The Carney" is ramshackle dose of gothic rain & bad directions. Think Kurt Weill meets Todd Browning's "Freaks". As a writer, Cave is on top of his game with this tale of a broken down circus and the burial of a horse known as "Sorrow". It's the album's signature track and a Cave classic. They've never recorded anything like it.
For somber, after hours delirium, it's hard to top the title track & "Stranger Than Kindness". Two songs that would be at home in any David Lynch soundtrack. The album then hits the home stretch with 4 searing, unhinged numbers culminating in a hair-raising cover of Tim Rose's "Longtime Man".
As with all the others in this reissue series, there is a DVD of extras. The interviews with the key players shed some light on this slice of mayhem. However, there are a few interviews with self-important fans waxing poetic & gushing inanely, etc I could do without. But I venture you'll walk away with a helluva lot of respect for Bad Seed Mick Harvey. Despite being so low key, it's clear he's pretty much the man behind holding this album (not to mention the band) together.
As mentioned earlier, the initial CD reissue re-sequenced the album out of order. But it did include an essential B-side: "Scum". Cave's blistering attack on journalist Matt Snow is as vitriolic as it gets. And Snow's reaction to the song in the DVD interview is priceless.
In the end, any complaints are trivial compared to the music & the vastly improved sound quality. Over all it's a generous gift to long time fans. Since I just about wore out my original copy, you guessed it---I don't mind shelling out for it again. Now there's the rest of the series to contend with...