Tag: nick cave and the bad seeds

everything must converge

Here we are, everyone. To cap off my series of posts on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, what better way than a third and final mixtape?

More so than my last couple of efforts, I faced some difficulties finding the right mix of songs and that sense of flow that any good mixtape should have. The problem wasn’t the inclusion of a few Grinderman tracks (as I originally suspected), but rather the diversity between the Bad Seeds albums covered during this period. The Boatman’s Call is sparse and intimate, Abattoir Blues bubbles with gospel-infused rock, and No More Shall We Part is laden with a mix of piano and strings that isn’t found on its neighbours. So, some of my favourite tracks got sacrificed for the overall continuity of the playlist.

At the same time, relistening to many of the tracks made me appreciate this most recent phase in Cave’s development a little more than may have been represented by my previous entry. I think the crucial difference is that I believe many of the songs are excellent, but the albums are patchy. Cave hasn’t, to my ears, quite got the flow right; the balance between ballads and louder numbers is off, and there are slightly more skippable tracks than on earlier releases.

To stay in keeping with the era represented here, I’m sure you’ll find an iTunes playlist or burned disc more appropriate as a cassette tape. For what it’s worth, this mix is about forty minutes per ‘side’.

Side One:
Wonderful Life
Still in Love
Brompton Oratory
Love Letter
Chain of Flowers
Breathless
Jesus of the Moon
Black Hair
Darker with the Day

Side Two:
Get Ready For Love
No Pussy Blues
Honey Bee (Let’s Fly to Mars)
Worm Tamer
I Feel So Good
Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl)
There She Goes My Beautiful World
Palaces of Montezuma
O Children

(in order: Nocturama/Nocturama/Boatman’s Call/No More Shall We Part/No Pussy Blues b-side/Lyre of Orpheus/Dig Lazarus Dig/Boatman’s Call/No More Shall We Part, and Abattoir Blues/Grinderman/Grinderman/Grinderman 2/B-Sides & Rarities #3/Dig Lazarus Dig/Abattoir Blues/Grinderman 2/Lyre of Orpheus)

Thanks all for reading. Next week, something different!

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“it must feel nice to leave no trace, no trace at all”

The departure of Blixa Bargeld following Nocturama was either harbinger or catalyst of a seismic shift in the Bad Seeds. A new nucleus had formed, driven by an increasing convergence in musical vision from some band members (or, perhaps, an increasing divergence in others). This new sub-group – composed of Cave, Sclavunos, Casey and Ellis – were also assisted by their geographical proximity; the Bad Seeds had always been a scattered bunch, and it was difficult to get the band together for a quick jam. But, that’s what Cave and his band-within-a-band did, and the fruits of their labour produced the backbone to the Bad Seeds’ next album, Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus (2004).

Blues and Lyre were released as a double album. They are simultaneously both greater and less than the sum of their parts; there is both brilliance and barely-contained sprawl, and several of the songs might not have made the cut if the album was confined to a single disc. The standout tracks are on Abattoir Blues, which was most informed by the mini-Seeds sub-group. ‘Get Ready For Love’ comes sprinting out of the starting gates, the piano at the spine of ‘Messiah Ward’ is one of the best in a Bad Seeds track, and the gospel fervour of ‘There She Goes, My Beautiful World’ makes it one of the most memorable songs in the Bad Seeds’ entire catalogue.

Abattoir Blues was sufficient evidence that a more collaborative, band-led approach to songwriting with these mini-Seeds could generate some great songs. Soon, Cave took this to a new phase, launching Grinderman as a standalone band. The line-up – Cave, Sclavunos, Casey and Ellis once again – retained their membership cards to the Bad Seeds, but a new moniker let them play new roles that the old group may not have allowed. Cave moved to guitar, for the first time, while Ellis began experimenting with a broader range of musical instruments and effects.

To call Grinderman’s self-titled debut album (2007) a promising effort would be an understatement. The songs are, for the most part, excellent; the sound is rougher, the lyrics lewder, and the hooks meaner than what any would have anticipated. That said, the music isn’t that far removed from similar moments in the Bad Seeds – a line can be unhesitatingly drawn from the priapic ‘Hard On For Love’ (1986) and ‘Loverman’ (1994) through to ‘No Pussy Blues’. In some lights, such lines may be drawn from Grinderman all the way back to The Birthday Party – both bands are infused with a raging sound, after all. Grinderman, ragged and cocksure as it often is, remains a very different beast. That’s not just because of the membership – Mick Harvey, Cave’s long-time collaborator, is noticeably absent from the line-up – but also what inspires that rage. The Birthday Party was infused with youthful swagger and sullenness, while Grinderman is a rocker’s midlife crisis writ large. That’s not to dismiss it, but rather to point out that the rage, here, is at ageing and impotence that is far removed from anything the Birthday Party touched.

It is unsurprising that Grinderman’s success impacted the Bad Seeds when they next met. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008) was a halfway house between Grinderman’s more immediate recording techniques and the Seeds’ now-familiar form. Critics lauded it as a ‘return to form’. It is, to me, a deathly phrase: once applied, the same critics are likely to apply it again and again, without ever pinpointing what makes an album particularly good or bad. To my proletarian ears, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is a reasonable album but still one that ranks in the bottom half of the Bad Seeds’ catalogue. It has some good rock songs that don’t feel too far removed from Henry’s Dream, some moodier songs that feel a little closer to The Lyre of Orpheus or No More Shall We Part – but, that’s all contributes to my discomfort.  For all the good songs on the record, Dig feels like a weird mix of awkward missteps and playing it too safe. Yet, it warms the cockles of my heart that I’m so ambivalent toward it; feeling that a Bad Seeds album isn’t ‘your’ Bad Seeds is as old as the hills. It’s like being a Doctor Who fan, when a new Doctor comes through the door; when you dislike them immediately – rightly or wrongly – you know you’re a real fan.

The most recent recording for Cave has been Grinderman 2 (2010). My immediate impression is that it’s a strong album, but I’ve heard much of it before. It builds on the sounds of the previous album, and like 2007’s debut it is about one-third excellent, one-third good and one-third skip it-on-a-random-playlist.

I’ve seen Nick Cave live in concert several times over the years, with the Bad Seeds, with Grinderman, and with an odd melding of the two during a ‘solo’ tour in 2009 where Mick Harvey and Conway Savage joined Grinderman on stage for a handful of songs. Each time has been brilliant, although the spiritualist leanings of the Abattoir Blues tour makes it the highlight of my memories. I’m more interested in an upcoming Bad Seeds album that Grinderman’s next efforts – the latter band interests me, but they verge close to shtick at times. One thing is certain: whenever the next album lands, it will most certainly not be the old Bad Seeds. After many long years, Mick Harvey left the band after Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!.  It ended three decades of musical partnership with Cave; Harvey had been a founding member of the Boys Next Door, Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds. Whatever direction the band go in next, it will be something truly different. And for better or worse, I’ll be there at the music store ready to buy it on the first day it’s out.

Speaking deviated truths: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, 1997-2003

A fortnight ago, I wrote that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads (1996) was an exorcism. This casting out of demons was partially informed by changes in Cave’s personal life, and one of the album’s signature duets signalled more changes to come. The intensity of Cave’s haunting collaboration with PJ Harvey, ‘Henry Lee’, was a precursor of their brief, passionate relationship.

Only a year after the release of Murder Ballads, the Bad Seeds released The Boatman’s Call. The album stripped away the venom that had infected so much of the band’s releases earlier that decade and replaced it with a reflection on love, loss and desire. The lyrics are more humbled and introspective than before, the music quieter and stripped back to the barest essentials – a piano, occasional guitar, and the quietest of percussion to guide Cave’s mournful, trembling voice.  It is not unreasonable to say that this album truly heralded the opening of a new era for the Bad Seeds, even more definitively than the maturity and consistency of The Good Son signalled a split from the earlier recordings.

The Boatman’s Call is the first album of Cave’s that I loved on my own terms. Where the majority of my friends yearned for the fire and brimstone of the early 90s, I found this album had a poise and grace that I’d never experienced before. ‘Idiot Prayer’ remains a standout track for me, with its refrain that
“If you’re in Heaven then you’ll forgive me, dear, because that’s what they do up there
If you’re in Hell, then what can I say… you probably deserved it anyway.”

After the flurry of releases in the early 1990s, The Boatman’s Call was the last Bad Seeds album for the decade. The last few years of the millennium saw numerous tours, side-projects and Cave’s marriage in 1999 to former model Susie Bick. It would be 2001 before the band reassembled in the studio for No More Shall We Part. Despite loving the earlier album, the intervening years had seen a lot of change, for me, and I wasn’t immediately drawn to their music. When I did eventually pick the album up a few months after its release, I was immediately impressed by how Cave had blended the softer sounds with touches of his earlier fire. No More Shall We Part is poignant but wearied. It is dressed with domesticities that are light-years away from the rough-hewn edges of the Bad Seeds, and indeed the Birthday Party before them. For what it’s worth, I feel that there is also a sense of closure to several of the final tracks. For my money, if this was the final album that the Bad Seeds ever released, it’d be seen as a successful synthesis of The Boatman’s Call’s broken-hearted dignity with the spite of earlier releases.

But, there was more to come. Two years after No More Shall We Part, Cave brought us Nocturama (2003). And, well, what can I say about that? Nocturama is a fractious and divisive recording. For some, it is a long-overdue reinjection of rock and rawness back into the Bad Seeds’ ethos. For others, its a low point, a musical nadir with cliched lyrics and predictable musical hooks. I fall closer to the latter position than the former, I must admit. The album has some good songs, but it’s not a great album, certainly not anywhere near the peaks that the band had scaled so recently. It saw some members of the band come to the fore – notably Warren Ellis, the violinist who’d joined the band as a guest musician in Murder Ballads – while others saw their contribution shrink to historic lows – Conway Savage, possibly due to scheduling conflicts, only appeared on the album for occasional backing vocals. It marked the last Bad Seeds album for Blixa Bargeld, who left the band shortly afterwards to concentrate on Einsturzende Neubatuten. Bargeld, you may recall, had been a member of the band since From Her to Eternity almost twenty years before. His departure was symbolically significant, and reflected tectonic plates shifting in the band’s structure and sound that would inform the years to come.

Next week: endings and beginnings

songs of love and hate

Sorry all, no substantial mid-week update this time around. I’d like to say it’s my new job, with the 10+ hour days that it brings, but it probably has as much to do with purchasing 30 Rock Season 5 on DVD and watching almost the entire thing in a couple of sittings. Mea culpa.

To tide you all over, here’s my latest Bad Seeds mixtape. I’ve shown a little less discipline this time, and you’ll need a 90 minute tape this time around (we’re over forty minutes a side here). The songs are from albums I’ve discussed over the last couple of weeks and give moderately equal billing to ’90 to ’96’s releases. Side 1 is a broad cross-section of the Cave’s output over that half-decade and generally gives the softer side of things. The reverse provides lust, violence and jagged vitriol: change sides depending on your mood. 

Side 1:
The Ship Song
Loom of the Land
Straight to You
The Weeping Song
Nobody’s Baby Now
I Let Love In
Henry Lee
Lucy

Side 2:
Do You Love Me?
The Hammer Song
Brother, My Cup Is Empty
Loverman
The Ballad of Robert Moore & Betty Coltrane
Lovely Creature
Cocks ‘n’ Asses
Staggerlee
Jack the Ripper

For those who weren’t paying close attention last week, ‘The Ballad…’ was first released on Where The Wild Roses Grow, but you’re better off tracking it down on B-Sides and Rarities. ‘Cocks ‘n’ Asses’, b-side to The Weeping Song single, is on the same compilation.

Marked by darkness and by blood and one thousand powder-burns

An inescapable truth of Nick Cave is that he has always loved and killed his women in equal measure.

Romance and violence colour almost every Bad Seeds album, and before then too; one barely needs to scratch the surface of The Birthday Party’s output to find the same themes repeating. ‘Deep in the Woods’, to take one example, sees Cave “take her from rags right through to stiches.”

The Bad Seeds’ early years had their fair share of love songs and blood songs, but as the decade progressed it seemed that a turning point may have been reached.  In The Good Son, we have the an inkling that all that rage and vitriol may be giving way to something else. In ‘Lucy’, Cave tells us that “I’ll love her forever, I’ll love her for all time / I’ll love her till the stars fall down from the sky.” Similarly, in ‘The Ship Song’, Cave croons that “we make a little history, baby, every time you come around.”

In the following album, Henry’s Dream, these competing themes manifest at the extremes. On one hand we have the saintly hymn ‘Christina the Astonishing’, but within a few minutes we meet ‘John Finn’s Wife’ with her “legs like scissors and butcher’s knives, a tattooed breast and flaming eyes”. There’s also some romantic bombast that will reappear in later albums – ‘Straight to You’, for example – but in essence Cave has reverted back to venom toward the fairer sex. This is perhaps most obvious in ‘Brother, My Cup is Empty’, where we are told that
I cannot blame it all on her – to blame her all would be a lie
For many a night I lay awake and wished that I could watch her die
To see her accusing finger spurt, to see flies swarm her hateful eye
To watch her groaning in the dirt, to see her clicking tongue crack dry

An element of impotence or sexual frustration also surfaces at times, with ‘Jack the Ripper’ snarling in frustration at a woman who rules the house “with an iron fist”.

Let Love In has a different tone, significantly softening the tone of its predecessor. We haven’t quite gone back to where The Good Son left off, but the savagery of Henry’s Dream seems like a relapse rather than a return to form. 1994 presents us with a more complex take on the subject than previous albums. Here, the women are awe-inspiring, if slightly terrifying. The opening song presents us with a woman who
… was given to me to put things right
And I stacked all my accomplishments beside her
Still I seemed so obsolete and small
I found God and all His devils inside her

The following track, ‘Nobody’s Baby Now’, develops the theme;
I loved her then and I guess I love her still
Hers is the face I see when a certain mood moves in
She lives in my blood and skin: her wild feral stare, her dark hair, her winter lips as cold as stone

In the end, the album culminates with love itself being assaulted; the title track assures us that it is “far worse to be Love’s lover than the lover that Love has scorned”.

In early 1996, the Bad Seeds released Murder Ballads. It was a rough exorcism, the culmination of all Cave’s darknesses into a recording both amazing and deeply disturbing. On the strength of the album’s first single, ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’, the album rocketed up the charts. Cave’s duet with Kylie Minogue had a lighter, more ethereal tone to it than much of the album. ‘Song of Joy’, which opens the album, is dirge-like in comparison, providing us with the eponymous, doomed Joy who is eventually “bound with electrical tape… stabbed repeatedly and stuffed into sleeping bag.”

Not of all Cave’s output in 1996 was so horrific – or, at least, so humourless. The denouement of ‘The Curse of Millhaven’ tells us that “it’s Rorschach and Prozac and everything is groovy,” while ‘King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O’ – a rambling b-side – is a decidedly odd tale of Mr Frog and Miss Mouse, along with owls, bats and bumblebees.

My entry point to the Bad Seeds was an offcut. A friend from work and I traded CDs for a few days in January 1996 (I feel  terrible, now, that I can’t remember the friend’s name for the life of me). One of the CDs was the single to ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’. The title track was fine, but there was something about the second song that grabbed me. It had a spirit to it I’d never encountered before; a gift of storytelling, filled with darkness, spontaneity and humour in equal measure.  ‘The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane’ was all I needed to set me on the path.

There was a thick-set man with frog-eyes was standing at the door
And a little bald man with wing-nuts ears was waiting in the car
Well, Robert Moore passed the frog-eyed man as he walked into the bar
And Betty Coltrane she jumped under her table

“What’s your pleasure?” asked the barman, he had a face like boiled meat
“There’s a girl called Betty Coltrane that I have come to see”
“But I ain’t seen that girl ’round here for more than a week”
And Betty Coltrane she hid beneath the table

Well, then in came a sailor with mermaids tattooed on his arms
Followed by the man with wing-nut ears who was waiting in the car
Well, Robert Moore sensed trouble, he’d seen it coming from afar
And Betty Coltrane she gasped beneath the table

Well, the sailor said, “I’m looking for my wife! They call her Betty Coltrane”
And the frog-eyed man said, “That can’t be! That’s my wife’s maiden name!”
And the man with the wing-nut ears said, “Hey, I married her back in Spain”
And Betty Coltrane crossed herself beneath the table

Well, Robert Moore stepped up and said, “That woman is my wife”
And he drew a silver pistol and a wicked Bowie knife
And he shot the man with the wing-nut ears straight between the eyes
And Betty Coltrane she moaned under the table

Well, the frog-eyed man jumped at Robert Moore who stabbed him in the chest
As Mr. Frog-Eyes died, he said, “Betty, you’re the girl that I loved best”
Then the sailor pulled a razor and Robert blasted him to bits
And, “Betty, I know you’re under the table!”

“Well, have no fear,” said Robert Moore, “I do not want to hurt you
Never a woman did I love near half as much as you
You are the blessed sun to me, girl, and you are the sacred moon”
And Betty shot his legs out from under the table

Well, Robert Moore went down heavy with a crash upon the floor
And over to his thrashing body Betty Coltrane she did crawl
She put the gun to the back of his head and pulled the trigger once more
And blew his brains out all over the table

Well, Betty stood up and shook her head and waved the smoke away
Said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Barman, to leave your place this way”
As she emptied out their wallets, she said, “I’ll collect my severance pay”
Then she winked and threw a dollar on the table

(You’ll note here that Cave has turned around the subject of murderous rage here; now, finally, the woman has a turn to survive the bloodshed  – and about time too.)

One of the odder things about Murder Ballads is that, for all its horror and torment, it’s amongst the band’s bestselling albums – you can thank Kylie for that. For those keen to explore Cave’s mid-90s output, I’ll say it’s got some fantastic songs but that it isn’t an easy listen; it’s the sound of a band casting out their demons.

It’s also the sound of new beginnings for the band, with two new members joining the Bad Seeds here (albeit initially only as guest musicians on this release). These new members were Jim Sclavunos, percussionist and one-time Sonic Youth drummer, and Warren Ellis, violinist for The Dirty Three. These two musicians informed much of the Bad Seeds’ development for the decade to come. As their influence waxed, that of founding Seeds Blixa Bargeld and Mick Harvey began to wane – but that’s for next week.

There were also new beginnings for Cave himself. He had left Brazil behind, and with it his relationship with Viviane Carneiro. Amongst the massacres of Murder Ballads, we can claim a glimpse into his new romance. His duet with PJ Harvey on Murder Ballads, ‘Henry Lee’ is enthralling, and one of my favourite recordings of Cave’s. For those who feel like YouTubing it, the unbroken camera movements of the accompanying music video provide a hypnotic demonstration of their growing attraction. The relationship was to prove brief and torrid, and his reaction to the passion and chaos of those years would irrecoverably change the direction of the Bad Seeds’ evolution.

Next week: The Boatman’s Call

Heaven Has Denied Us Its Kingdom: an ongoing retrospective on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Last week, I talked about how The Good Son (1990) was a turning point for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. In 1992, they added to their new canon with Henry’s Dream. Like its predecessor, Henry’s Dream is haunted by Sao Paulo, but the mood has darkened, tinged with violence and vitriol. The album has plenty of standout tracks, assisted by an increasingly coherent approach thanks to the band’s new additions of Conway Savage and Martyn Casey. Like The Good Son, this is an album rather than a collection of songs; the tracks hold together rather than feeling like experiments on a theme.

Henry’s Dream is marked by several extended narratives, and these increasingly compelling lyrics demonstrate that Cave’s storytelling skills were expanding to new levels. A good example of this is the opening track, ‘Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry’. If you haven’t heard it before, snarl it out loud with apocalypse and venom in your soul: spit the words like bullets.

I went out walking the other day, the wind hung wet around my neck
My head it rung with screams and groans from the night I spent amongst her bones
I passed beside the mission house where that mad old buzzard, the reverend,
Shrieked and flapped about life after your dead
Well, I thought about my friend, Michel, how they rolled him in linoleum and shot him in the neck
A bloody halo, like a think-bubble circling his head
And I bellowed at the firmament
Looks like the rains are hear to stay
And the rain pissed down upon me and washed me all away, saying
Papa won’t leave you, Henry
Papa won’t leave you, boy
Well, the road is long and the road is hard and many fall by the side
But Papa won’t leave you Henry, so there ain’t no need to cry
And I went on down the road

Well, the moon it looked exhausted like something you should pity
Spent an age-spotted above the sizzling wires of the city
Well, it reminded me of her face, her bleached and hungry eyes
Her hair was like a curtain – falling open with the laughter and closing with the lies
But the ghost of her still lingers on though she’s passed through me and is gone
The slum dogs, they are barking
And the rain children on the streets
And the tears that we will weep today will all be washed away by the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
Papa won’t leave you, Henry
Papa won’t leave you, boy
Well, the road is long and the road is hard and many fall by the side
But Papa won’t leave you, Henry, so there ain’t no need to cry
And I went on down the road

And I came upon a little house, a little house upon a hill
And I entered through, the curtain hissed, into the house with its blood-red bowels
Where wet-lipped women with greasy fists crawled the ceilings and the walls
They filled me full of drink and led me round the rooms, naked and cold and grinning
Until everything went black and I came down spinning
I awoke so drunk and full of rage that I could hardly speak
A fag in a whale-bone corset draping his dick across my cheek
And it’s into the shame, and it’s into a guilt and it’s into the fucking fray
And the walls ran red around me, a warm arterial spray, saying
Papa won’t leave you, Henry
Papa won’t leave you, boy
Well, the night is dark and the night is deep and its jaws are open wide
But Papa won’t leave you, Henry, so there ain’t no need to cry
And I went on down the road

It’s the rainy season where I’m living
Death comes leaping out of every doorway; wasting you for money, for your clothes, and for your nothing
Entire towns being washed away, favelas exploding on inflammable spillways
Lynch-mobs, death squads, babies being born without brains
The mad heat and the relentless rains
And if you stick your arm into that hole it comes out sheared off to the bone
And with her kisses bubbling on my lips
I swiped the rain and nearly missed
And I went on down the road, singing
Papa won’t leave you, Henry
Papa won’t leave you, boy
Well, the road is long and the road is hard and many fall by the side
But Papa won’t leave you, Henry, so there ain’t no need to cry

And I went on down the road, bent beneath my heavy load
Yeah, I went on down the road

 

Henry’s Dream wasn’t the first Bad Seeds album I heard, but it’s close to it. The songs don’t have specific memories attached to them, not like ‘Sad Waters’ or ‘The Carny’ from Your Funeral…, but I know almost every song from it, note for note, word for word. It’s part of 1996’s soundtrack for me, along with Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral. Perhaps not the happiest year, that one.

Perhaps my only critique of Henry’s Dream is that it’s a little sterile in places, trading the spontaneity of earlier albums for a more predictable approach. In Nick Cave’s biography, Bad Seed (Ian Johnstone), it’s mentioned that the Bad Seeds, for their part, found the album a touch over-produced; the subsequent live album, Live Seeds (1993), was a partial reaction to that, an attempt to infuse the songs with the rawness that they felt had been left out in the studio (and it’s bloody good, too).

Building on their growing commercial and critical success, the Bad Seeds’ next release was Let Love In (1994). Even more so than The Good Son or Henry’s Dream, this sounds like the Bad Seeds at the top of their game. Like Henry’s Dream, this album does feel a touch over-produced, a wee bit studio-bound, a tiny bit safer than it needs to be. That’s not to talk it down in any way; there are absolute gems here, ranging from libido drenched ‘Loverman’, the genuinely hilarious ‘Thirsty Dog’, and the soaring title track. It’s also the album that provided us with that staple of so many soundtracks, ‘Red Right Hand’ – a little overexposed to be one of my favourite Bad Seeds tracks, but as good an entry point as any.

Let Love In was the album that someone used to try and get me into Nick Cave and his oeuvre. It didn’t work. I was listening to Pearl Jam’s Vs, Nine Inch Nails’ Broken, and a lot of Faith No More (and I do mean a lot). Cave’s ‘unique’ vocal talents didn’t appeal to me, not straight away. The film clip for ‘Do You Love Me?’, with Brazilian transvestites, bad suits and drunk men dancing badly? Didn’t get it. Conway Savage’s gorgeous piano /organ pieces left me cold, and the band’s lush, multi-layered sound confused me. It doesn’t sound like anything I’d heard. Do I think it’s a great Bad Seeds album now? Absolutely. Is it the best entry point for the band? Possibly, but it wasn’t for me right then.

January 1996 was when I discovered Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but it wasn’t 1995’s ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ that did it for me, nor was it ‘96’s Murder Ballads. Nope, it was a b-side.

Next week: The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane.

Mixtape!

Some of you who’ve been following this blog over the last few weeks may now want to look into the Bad Seeds’ back catalogue a little more. So, here’s my suggested mixtape for the Bad Seeds’ 80s output. Now, there’s a fine art to making a mixtape – I’d encourage you to go and read or watch Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity for pointers – but in essence this is just a couple of tracks from each album that I think are pretty representative choices. Plus, it adds up to just under half an hour per side, so you can chuck it onto a sixty-minute tape with a little bit of room to spare. Oh yeah, old school!

Side 1:
Sad Waters
In The Ghetto
Long Black Veil
The Carny
Tupelo

Side 2:
City of Refuge
Black Crow King
The Singer
Helpless*
From Her to Eternity
The Mercy Seat

(* first released on a Neil Young tribute collection from ’89, but more easily found on the thoroughly excellent Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ‘B-Sides and Rarities’)