If there's one thing you can count on from Nick Cave it's an uncompromising stance. As such, this new
comes in a variety of configurations. No matter where you fit on the spectrum of Cave fandom - casual, curious or converted - there's a version that caters specifically to your needs.
Only the faithful should consider the deluxe edition. This does not muck about or cut any corners. Spread across three CDs it's a comprehensive, exhaustive summary of an astonishingly resolute, idiosyncratic and principled 30 years of music.
At 45 songs its running time is around four hours, and if that's not enough there's also a two-hour DVD filled with rare footage to get through and a book to pore over.
If there's one thing the deluxe edition hammers home it's how singular of a vision Cave's had across the three decades he's been fronting the Bad Seeds. It is a stunningly cohesive collection that sees him attacking the same obsessions in constantly fluctuating ways and genres, without ever making any concessions along the way.
As a listening experience it's a heavy trip. It's a helluva long time to immerse yourself in Cave's black world of religion and violence, life and death, and love and sex. At times it's harrowing, at others it's simply beautiful.
For a guy who can sound like a deranged preacher fronting a mad cacophony straight out of the fires of hell, he also turns out surprisingly delicate and tender love songs.
Personally, I preferred the three LP vinyl version (also on double CD set), for a couple of reasons.
I wouldn't dare call any of the songs on the deluxe edition 'dead weight', but by jettisoning over 20 tracks the standard version has a far tighter focus. There's still an impressive 21 songs on offer but the edit feels stronger and more definitive.
The track sequencing is also improved. Rather than the straightforward chronological order of the deluxe, the songs are jumbled together. It's similar to how they'd be presented live, making for a more engaging listen as the different eras all grind together to give the album peaks and troughs that accentuate the inherent drama of Cave's songs.
If there's one fault, it's that no songs from last year's devastating Skeleton Tree album make an appearance. But really, that's a minor criticism.
For me, the deluxe edition was too much of a good thing. The standard edition, however, stands as an impressive and faultless testament to an extraordinary and singular talent.