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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Expanded Collectors Editions | Let Love In (4 stars) | Murder Ballads (3 stars) | The Boatman's Call (3 stars) | No More Shall We Part (3.5 stars)
The four classic albums that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released between 1994 and 2001 served as a crucial transition. Let Love In (1994), Murder Ballads (1996), The Boatman's Call (1997), and No More Shall We Part (2001) bridged his early post-punk neo-goth pose with his latter-day rebirth as a restrained balladeer. It's a stretch of albums that lays bare this dichotomy, alternating between savage and tame, profane and repentant, untethered and grounded. Let Love In, arguably the best album in a highlight-ridden discography, remains a benchmark for records with one foot in madness and one foot in the sublime. The Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part reveal a kinder, gentler Cave and a meditative grace. In between those releases is Murder Ballads, its brooding songs brimming with gruesome homicides, many of them rendered in gratuitous, near-parodic detail. (The narrator in Cave's notorious version of the folk song "Stagger Lee" brags that he'll "crawl over 50 good pussies just to get to one fat boy's asshole.") All four albums are being reissued, in this third wave of an ongoing campaign, as CD/DVD sets loaded with b-sides, videos, new 5.1 surround-sound mixes, and more. For fans, this glut of good stuff is a no-brainer upgrade; for everyone else, it's ground zero for getting to the essence of Cave's duality.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Music Reviews, post-punk,  More more >
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