With this second set of reissues of the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds catalog -- begun last year to mark the 25th anniversary of their recorded debut -- we've now reached the halfway point of the band's 14 studio releases.
As with the first four reissues, these three albums are each packaged with a remastered CD, along with a DVD containing the album remixed in 5.1 surround sound, rare single B-sides in stereo and surround, period music videos and a new short film of various Bad Seeds and their associates discussing each album. Also, as before, Cave does not appear in the films.
Tender Prey (originally released in 1988)
After consolidating their strengths on 1986's magnificent Your Funeral... My Trial, the Bad Seeds' fifth album, Tender Prey, is not as strong as its predecessor. That said, it does contain two enduring masterworks in "The Mercy Seat" -- memorably covered by Johnny Cash, it's often cited as Cave's signature song -- and "Deanna," a rollicking live staple for more than two decades now. The remainder of the tunes, including the fine, gospel-tinged trio of "City of Refuge," "Mercy" and "New Morning," are hardly throwaways, but cannot help but dwell in the long shadows cast by the two towers of song on the album.
The Good Son (originally released in 1990)
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Abandoning his longtime homebase of Berlin and purportedly leaving behind his drug-fueled decadence as well, Nick Cave led his Bad Seeds to Brazil and emerged with The Good Son. Its softly-sung piano ballads of love and hope -- mixed with the requisite despair, of course -- represented a seismic sonic shift which matched the group's geographic and cultural relocation. The gospel touches introduced on Tender Prey continue in "Foi Na Cruz" and the title track, a retelling of the Bible's Prodigal Son story from the point of view of his non-prodigal brother. The Good Son threw many critics and fans for a loop 20 years ago, but is now rightly regarded as a classic.
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Henry's Dream (originally released in 1992)
Rollicking, apocalyptic opener "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry," emphatically announces that Henry's Dream will not be a downtempo affair like its predecessor, though the gorgeous ballads "Straight To You" and "Loom of the Land" would not have been out of place on it. The Bad Seeds are mostly in full-throttle here and the effect is exhilarating, particularly on the blackly humorous "Jack The Ripper." Throughout, Cave's command of literary forms in his lyrics, especially the magic realism of "Christina the Astonishing," is wondrous to behold and cements his status as a master songwriter.
All three album reissues are available now.
Meanwhile, never one to rest on his considerable laurels, Cave is set to release Grinderman 2 -- the sophomore effort of his side-project with three members of the Bad Seeds -- in September. And, yeah, we'll be covering that.