Label: Mute Format: CD, 2CD
There’s a problem I always have with “Best Of” albums. To me, at least, they always bring to mind images of motorway service stations, racks filled to overflowing with Greatest Hits, The Very Best Of, or, worse, The Best (insert allegedly zeitgeist-defining noun here) Album in the World, Ever!. They suggest something a little too posthumous, a little too much like an obituary- “Here are their best songs- forget the rest and forget the future!” But the Bad Seeds? I mean- the Bad Seeds? The wonderfully shambolic, beautifully idiosyncratic Bad Seeds, inventors of a whole new brand of suave; lounge for lifers, uneasy listening? Where do you begin?
Well, with “Deanna”, obviously- rockabilly heaven by way of Route 666, Charlie Starkweather playing the blues- if ever a song summed up what the Bad Seeds are actually like (or were, way back when), it was this one. The frenzy of The Birthday Party harnessed and locked into a more traditional groove, “Deanna” is what the ’50s SHOULD have been like, but weren’t allowed to. A more perfect start to a compilation there has never been- lock all the doors, hide your valuables, shut your family in the cellar, the Bad Seeds are in town and they aren’t taking prisoners!
The choice of tracks is interesting in itself- for example, “Where The Wild Roses Grow” (in which the boy Cave smashes poor defenceless Kylie– KYLIE! The sheer AUDACITY of the man!- in the head with a rock), literally the “greatest hit” is kept until (almost) last, forcing punters only interested in market shares to subject themselves to such delights as “Tupelo” (wherein John Lee Hooker’s blues of the same name becomes an apocalyptic meditation on the Messianic birth of Elvis), and “The Carny”, Cave’s take on the whole Faulkner Deep-South-As-Location-For- Gothic-Romance (as opposed to Deep-South-As-Klan-Haven) scene.
Basically, without wishing to sound in the slightest bit “objective”, if you like the Bad Seeds, you’ll love this album. But you’ll probably own all the songs on it anyway. And if you don’t, then buy it anyway, just so you’ll have something cool in your record collection when you have friends round (and for the extra CD of live recordings on the limited edition – Ed.).