Long-term Cave-associate Mick Harvey is behind this long-anticipated three-disc compilation of the Bad Seeds less documented moments - taking in b-sides, out-takes, the odd lost-single, cover-versions & alternate-takes of songs that are familiar. These discs are packed- which more than compensates from the minimal artwork (no booklet, pics or anything beyond the source of each track). Far too many tracks to go into, but I'll offer up some personal highlights of this compilation... Volume I opens a few years into The Bad Seeds, with acoustic-versions of 'Tender Prey' tracks which featured in Uli Edel's documentary 'The Road to God Knows Where' (& were given away in a limited edition single with 'The Good Son')'The Mercy Seat' is always great, but the version of 'Deanna' - put into a medley with gospel-standard 'Oh Happy Day' - really stands out here. A few of the early-b-sides are a bit formless (but kind of interesting...)- 'The Moon is in the Gutter' belongs to that strange-period where Cave played in a loose-outfit with Marc Almond and J.G. Thirwell (The Immaculate Consumptives); while 'The Six Strings That Drew Blood' is a re-worked version of a Birthday Party-out-take from 'The Mutiny Sessions.' There are further BP-connections with the appearance of their late, mythic bassist Tracy Pew on covers of 'Running Scared' & 'Rye Whiskey.' Things get stronger as the disc progresses- the excellent 'Train Song', a faithful rendition of CSN&Y's 'Helpless', 'God's Hotel' (which I never knew before this) & the amusing cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Tower of Song' - which is edited down from a drunken-generic exercise by The Bad Seeds! The two highlights of this disc remain songs from two average Wim Wenders films- the gorgeous '(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World'- which is easily up there with Tom Waits & was reportedly a fave of crime-writer James Ellroy- & 'Cassiel's Song', which comes from 'Faraway, So Close!' & reunites Cave & Harvey with former Bad Seed Barry Adamson (Cave would later collaborate on the brilliant 'The Sweetest Embrace' on Adamson's 'Oedipus Schmoedipus')... The second-disc opens with a lost-single, a cover of 'What a Wonderful World' which features Shane MacGowan - co-singing Louis Armstrong's chestnut and singing Cave's 'Lucy' alone (as Cave tackles The Pogues classic 'A Rainy Night in Soho') There's a superior "acoustic" take of 'Jack the Ripper' from 'Henry's Dream' & an epic-take of 'Red Right Hand' intended for the awful 'Scream 3' (which comes after a Dirty Three collaboration from the X-Files album). The version of 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' (Blixa plays Kylie) is more of a curio & the alternate-takes of 'O'Malley's Bar' more for fans of Mark Radcliffe! There are a few lost-murder-ballads (Knoxville Girl, The Willow Garden) & the improvised 'That's What Jazz is to Me' (still one to skip...)- another highlight is the gorgeous 'Sail Away'- how didn't this make 'Let Love In'??? Easily up there with 'Nobody's Baby Now' or 'Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore'... The third-disc is probably the strongest- covering the period when Cave conquered his demons & offered up several classic-albums in rapid-succession: 'The Boatman's Call', 'No More Shall We Part', 'Nocturama', 'Abbatoir Blues' & 'The Lyre of Orpheus.' These tracks are all easily on a par with anything there- highlights include 'She's Leaving You' (the flipside of 'Nature Boy'), 'Swing Low' (the flipside of 'Bring It On' & features the Blockheads), 'Grief Came Riding' (a 'No More..' out-take that features the McGarrigle sisters), a band-version of 'Black Hair' & the recent b-side 'Under This Moon.' 'B-Sides and Rarities' is great value, packed with alternate joys from The Bad Seeds career - a more expansive alternative to the best of a few years ago. I suppose the next job for Mick Harvey is compiling a box-set of live-performances!!!! One of the compilations of the year, without a doubt...
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