Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The Party's Over
*special introductory paragraph!
*From Her To Eternity
*The First Born Is Dead
*Kicking Against The Pricks
*Your Funeral... My Trial
*Tender Prey
*The Good Son
*Henry's Dream
*Live Seeds
*Let Love In
*Murder Ballads
*The Boatman's Call
*Live At The Royal Albert Hall
*No More Shall We Part
*Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus
*B-Sides & Rarities
*The Abattoir Blues Tour
*Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
*Grinderman 2

After the screaming swinging sleazeballs of The Birthday Party went their separate ways in 1983, baritone singer Nick Cave and guitarist/drummer Mick Harvey formed an equally grim but less chaotic band called The Bad Seeds. Featuring Einsturzende Neubauten singer/guitarist Blixa Bargeld, Magazine bassist Barry Adamson, and guitarist of no prior renown Hugo Race, the Bad Seeds soon developed a literary fear'n'ballads style that captured the imaginations of children and by-products the world round. Hugo and Barry quit pretty early on, and eventually the band grew to about 500 people (okay, 8), but the core trio of Cave, Harvey and Bargeld remained its creative heart and soul for over two decades -- UNTIL!!!!! (read on for the end of this sentence)

From Her To Eternity - Mute 1984
Rating = 7

If you're looking for a musical connection between the Bad Seeds and Einsturzende Neubauten, here it is. This seven-track wonder is filled tide to sand with loud percussive noises clanging, bashing, spring-sproinging, huff-puffing and chain-clanking in such a unique and evocative way that it takes several listens to realize that almost nothing happens in any of the songs. Most are content to simply breeze along for six minutes on a two-note bass line, some quiet trebly guitar, a couple of piano doodles and a collection of bashing noises. However, although the record is definitely more about mood than melody, there's no denying the power of the mood. It's dark. And disturbed. And italicized.

Take "Cabin Fever," for example. This tale of a boat captain gone insane from too long at sea may only have a single five-note piano riff, but its calumphing shambolic percussion, background grunts of "Hoo-Hah!" and ludicrous stereo wood-cracking noises create a nauseatingly unsteady soundmosphere that puts you right there on the seasickening boat with Crazy Old Captain Man.

Similarly, the title track is built on an insistent one-note bass/piano pulse, but the addition of deranged piano notes darting back and forth, clanky clippy clicky boomy percussion and bizarre scraping/dragging noises created by the guitar all add up to a supremely visceral listening experience. Ditto "Saint Huck" and its octave-jumping bass 'riff,' bolstered by clanging bells, two-note piano, creepily out-of-context whistling and the ever-bashing percussion. And obviously it doesn't hurt that the fresh-from-Birthday-Party Cave is seething, growling, howling and shouting atop the din the entire time.

These are not ordinary songs. Don't look for verses, choruses, bridges or solos because there aren't any. In fact, you might be better off not looking for melodies either; though they exist, they're minor and hardly the focus. First and fore(skin)most(hee!), these are sonic portraits of emotional moods and psychological states. Mostly negative ones! I should also clarify that it's not all noise and flapdoodle; both "A Box For Black Paul" and the cover of Leonard Cohen's "Avalanche" instead build their oppressive moods through slow and quiet foreboding (which totally pays off at the end of the latter when the song comes CRASHING DOWN THE HILL IN A VIOLENT AVALANCHE OF BASS DRUM SNOWBALLS!!!!).

However, no matter how much I love the atmosphere and approach of the record, I can't ignore the facts that (a) every track drags on a couple minutes longer than necessary, and (b) two of the songs flat out SUCK DICK UPSIDE DOWN IN A FUNERAL HOME. And when you only have seven songs on your album, two that SPRAY FECAL SHIT MATTER ALL OVER THE FACE AND WALLS OF AMERICA can't help but drag your number grade down to a 7. It's simple mathematics. However, the five songs that don't JAM THEIR COCKS IN EACH OTHERS' MOUTHS AND THEN SMOTHER THEM IN JELLY AND KETCHUP are so sinister and extraordinary that you shouldn't let a little thing like two songs that DRILLED A HOLE IN SOME GUY'S BUTT CHEEK SO THEY COULD BOTH FUCK HIM IN THE ASS AT THE SAME TIME keep them from entering your collection. Buy the record, but go into it knowing that two of the songs are going to JUMP OFF THE CD AND SMEAR THE VOMIT AND UNDERWEAR OF AN 800-POUND MAN ALL OVER YOUR KITCHEN TABLE. That way, you won't be disappointed.

I see no need to humiliate these two songs that SPREAD SYPHILIS BY SIGHT ALONE by naming them here, but one is a call-and-response chain gang song that SLICES THE TOP OFF OF A SCROTUM SO IT CAN SUCK OUT THE BALL JUICE and the other is a sloppy drunken blues song that COLLECTS ITS FLATULENCE IN A JAR AND RELEASES IT INSIDE AN ORPHANAGE. Darn the socks out of these two songs for ruining an otherwise quite good indeed recording pleasure.

Reader Comments

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
Fresh from The Birthday Party is indeed the key. In the same way that Mutiny and the Bad Seed prefigure what the Bad Seeds would do, this album harks back to The Birthday Party, and particularly Nick's love for whooping, coughing, barking, hiccuping, shrieking and generally doing almost everything a guy can do with a microphone -except- singing. Perhaps that's why I have a soft spot for this album - I miss the old Nick Cave, the one who could spend roughly one-quarter of a song just going 'woof woof', the one who was clearly just fucking around in the expectation people would see it as some kind of performance poetry. This album has some of that Cave's finest moments, although I've got to say it's slightly underwhelming when one considers that this is what he felt The Birthday Party was holding him back from - stuff like Saint Huck and Cabin Fever is fun enough and certainly sonically interesting, but it's hard to give even half of a shit about the little vignettes they're built around. The only song here where one actually has any investment in the story it tells is the title track, and it's not as if nobody's ever sung a song about wanting to bone some girl but preferring to just obsessively stalk her before.

7 / 10
"but one is a call-and-response chain gang song that SLICES THE TOP OFF OF A SCROTUM SO IT CAN SUCK OUT THE BALL JUICE"

really, mark? you didn't like 'well of misery'?

that and the title track are my favorites.. the whole record reminds me of being on a slave ship, stricken with syphilis and scurvy, with nick cave as the captain

good stuff

i think you're just old and bitter, massa prindle

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The First Born Is Dead - Mute 1985
Rating = 7

Much like the legendary Dan Aykroyd/Eddie Murphy comedy Trading Places, this album finds the band's American South fixation "trading places" with its propensity for noisemaking, such that FHTE's two examples of 'negro & hillbilly music' here jump to a flapjackering six, leaving only the intense and hypnotic Elvis mythology "Tupelo" to recall the creepy moodmaking of the first record. Luckily, the band (a) bothered to write melodies for their 'colored and redneck' songs this time, and (b) approached the American musics with British, German and Australian minds. You know how the Rolling Stones were so adept at assimilating C/W into their sound that songs like "Honky Tonk Women" can actually be mistaken for authentic Southern (U.S.) rock? Well, the Bad Seeds sound about as American as Mutter, cricket and blood pie!

(Someone mark me down as "Guy Who Can Write Dave Barry's Column When He's Out Sick." You saw it, it was great.)

Tackled 'rural gothic' genres include swampy rockabilly ("Say Goodbye To The Little Girl Tree"), call-and-response work song ("Train Long-Suffering"), piano jazz ("Knockin' On Joe"), western (Johnny Cash's "Wanted Man") and of course good old-fashioned blues ("Black Crow King" and "Blind Lemon Jefferson"). The arrangements and production are much sparser than before, but the songs are also more traditionally melodic. Instrumentally, the album is more guitar-oriented than From Her To Eternity, with the trebly Johnny Cash picking style taking precedence but twangy slide guitar also playing a role. Furthermore, the organ is as prominent as the piano, the noisy percussion is almost non-existent, and a harmonica gets blown more often than (again, please keep me in mind for Dave Barry's column).

This is all fine, well and good. As I said earlier, by bringing its own identity to the project, the band either intentionally or accidentally creates slightly 'off' versions of these traditional forms -- particularly in the case of the simultaneously chaotic and genteel "Black Crow King" and the pulsating bass harmonic shudderfest "Blind Lemon Jefferson." Unfortunately, one element is not at all wine, gell and food, and it wreaks such havoc on the entire project that I'd have to replace a couple of my ears before considering a higher grade than 7. This element is the drums. Or rather, near lack of.

Look, I enjoy plenty of songs without drums. Early blues music doesn't need drums, of course. Why, one can perform all types of music without drums and have a slambang good time about it too. The problem here is that the songs do have drums -- slow, lazy, tip-tipping drums that not only add no power or rhythmic push to the songs, but actually suck all the energy and life from them. Over and over, in song after the song, they just tip-tip-tip along as if about to explode and propel, and occasionally they even DO!!! but only for like two bars before returning to weak-wristed soul-destroying tedium. Essentially, this shoddy percussive work dooms the entire record (aside from the memorably energetic "Train Long-Suffering") to sound like a series of intros -- songs that promise to kick into second gear, but never do. Maybe this is why they hired a new drummer in time for the next record.

But I'll say this about Nick Cave: whether ranting gravelly about a thunderstorm, crooning about life on Death Row, or making a "Whoo Whoo!" train whistle noise, he is one heck of a dramatist. In the words of Roger Ebert, "Nicolas Cave is daring and fearless in his choice of roles, and unafraid to crawl out on a limb, saw it off and remain suspended in air. No one else can project inner trembling so effectively.... However improbable his character, he never winks at the audience. He is committed to the character with every atom and plays him as if he were him.... Leaving Las Vegas is one of the best films of the year, deserving many Academy Award nominations."

Reader Comments

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
This album is competent enough musically but kind of forgettable and at times embarassing - it's probably the weakest in the Bad Seeds' catalogue before the famous post Murder Ballads testicle-free era which we only just (?) seem to be freeing ourself from with Grinderman and all its associated moustache-ness. Tupelo is great, obviously, but everything else here is just a bit off. It's probably the most nakedly self-indulgent manifestation of Nick's obsession with blues and american mythology, and he dives into that stuff with all the restraint, taste and intelligence of a twelve year old finding his first porno mag and showing it to his friends. This is exactly what you'd get if you took a bunch of pasty white German and Australian guys, gave them an extremely half-arsed briefing on depression era delta blues, and surgically removed any sense of self-restraint or ability to stop and ask themselves 'is this even approaching a good idea?'. Of course in this case they've got some talent to go with that lack of self-restraint, but basically this kind of rootsy bluesy stuff is to Nick Cave what high sci-fi concepts are to Pete Townsend - a little goes a long way, and the product is usually better when the tendency is only partly indulged (Firstborn vs Henry's Dream; Lifehouse vs Who's Next). OK, I don't think the English language was actually designed to include the words 'Pete Townsend' and 'Nick Cave' in the same sentence, so I might need to go have a little lie down now.

5 / 10

Damn, I was figuring this was precisely the kind of Cave album that would blow you away in particular. It's true that they didn't have a real drummer at this time and I think it's Mick Harvey playing them for the most part. Thomas Wydler was a definite improvement. However the DARKNESS is particularly high on this record to the point where I can't even imagine playing my sweet new reissued CD+DVD of this album in broad daylight, or hell, even without it raining outside to boot. Couple that pounding darkness with the roots flavor, the strong vocal performances and the epic songs and you've got a straight-up 9, IMO. "Tupelo," "Knockin' On Joe" and "Blind Lemon Jefferson" are the highlights; "Wanted Man" is really strong too, and the reissue forces you to play the Bad Seeds "Six Strings That Drew Blood" on the DVD, but it's NOTHING like the old Birthday Party version--it borders on post-rock!! It's awesome!

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Kicking Against The Pricks - Mute 1986
Rating = 7

When I heard that Nick Cave was releasing an album of cover tunes, I literally shit a brick. Luckily I'm a construction worker so we just g

When I heard that Nick Cave was releasing an album of cover tunes, I couldn't have been more excited. Obviously it would have to include a few Boston songs, maybe some Meat Loaf - definitely one or two Styx classyx. Unfortunately, when the record came out, I was all like "John Lee Hooker? Tom Jones? Johnny Cash? Are you just making these names up!?" And as it turned out, he was. He even went through the trouble of recording dozens of albums under each pseudonym (some dating all the way back to the FIFTIES!) to better hoax you with his fake covers album filled with original Nick Cave compositions like "Hey Joe."

The disappointing thing about a covers album is that it doesn't feature any new melodies or lyrics by your favorite artist (in this case, Australia's Nick Cave). Instead, you have to make do with a bunch of rickety old shit that he liked when you were 2. Well, thank Providence for morbid lyricists because these words hit all of Cave's usual themes, chief among them murder ("I'm Gonna Kill That Woman," "Hey Joe," "Long Black Veil"), infidelity (err.. "I'm Gonna Kill That Woman," "Hey Joe," "Long Black Veil"), love ("The Carnival Is Over," "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart"), religion ("Jesus Met The Woman At The Well"), catastrophe and failure ("Muddy Water," "The Singer") and Pac-Man ("Pac-Man Fever").

Okay, not really "Pac-Man ('Pac-Man Fever')."

Musically, however, this is almost all new ground for Nick -- the only thing approaching his previous work is the scraggly hollerin' blues John Lee Hooker cover, which stinks anyway. It's the other songs -- the easy listening, doo-wop gospel, acoustic C/W and piano balladry -- that make the record so extremely important in terms of his future direction. Up until now, he had operated under the name "Nick Cave, Crazy Murder Guy." But beginning here -- for better or worse -- he added two new names to his business card: "Nick Cave, Crooner" and "Nick Cave, Sorrowful Piano Man." Indeed, it's difficult to imagine later Cave classics like "Straight To You," "Into My Arms" and "The Ship Song" even existing had he not first pointed his baritone at "Sleeping Annaleah," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "The Carnival Is Over" and "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" on this record. The addition of strings and a fuller, more colorful mix would also influence his future work.

As for comparisons between the original recordings and Nick's covers, I can only tell you that "Long Black Veil" hardly differs from the Johnny Cash version (I've not heard the original Lefty Frizzell version), but both "Hey Joe" and "All Tomorrow's Parties" are very intense drone-based departures from the source material. However, the important thing here is that apparently Nick Cave is an arrogant, elitist asshole. That's what I'm told anyway; I've never met the guy. I just like spreading rumors. Supposedly Bill Murray has a terrible temper too. All anecdotes are welcome!

Reader Comments

I love Nick Cave's music and all, but every interview I've read or seen with him makes him come off as the biggest douche in the universe. He just trashes every other band they mention for not being as awesome as he is, and acts completely sarcastic. If you look on youtube, there's one where he makes fun of the interviewer the entire time for comparing the band to Joy Division, while the Foetus guy sits next to him giggling.

This album, however, has never made any arrogant, elitist remarks to me, and it's actually pretty good! A couple of the bluesier numbers are kind of sparse and lazy sounding in a bad way ("I'm Gonna Kill that Woman" comes to mind), but songs like "Muddy Water" and "The Singer" and "The Carnival is Over" are moody and brilliant. Also, this version of "All Tomorrow's Parties" is boss! I've heard very few of these originals, so this may not be as imaginative a set as I think it is, but as it stands I'd give it an 8.

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
This is generally the album I give to people who are new to the old Cavester; it's surprisingly accessible, and it's a potent antidote for those who seen Nick Cave as a scary goth horror-movie guy (he covers a Tom Jones song!) as well as those who see Nick Cave as a titanically pretentious prick (HE COVERS A TOM JONES SONG!). Perhaps Nick was suffering from one or both such delusions himself, because, as you say, this album seems to have been a real point of growth for him, and although the more restrained musical impulses he premiered here eventually led him to rather boring places, clearly the whole singing-about-tits-and-guns thing wasn't really working out for him either. While a lot of these songs are quite significant re-workings and significantly darker than the originals, it's nonetheless a rather modest exercise that rather wipes away the bad taste of pretention and mullet-headed indifference to context that Firstborn blotted Nick's copybook with. Oh and also the last appearance, to my knowledge, of Tracy 'Gay-Cowboy-Guy' Pew, although his contributions aren't really that noteworthy - I always forget he's on 'Hey Joe' and not 'Muddy Water'.

9 / 10

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Your Funeral... My Trial - Mute 1986
Rating = 9

This is the one. This is it. Look no further. Your dreams have been answered, because this is where it all finally happens. Yes, this will be the greatest review I've ever written.

If only you knew the pain and Cimmerian shade I feel every year upon picking up Da Capo's Best Of Music Writing book, flipping through its doubtless brilliant observations by such famed musical thinkers as Dave Eggers, and finding the Prindle family name yet again in non-existence. That all ends now. The insight to follow will be of such penetrating astuteness that Greil Marcus himself will leap from the grave and shout, "Vive Le Coup D'Etat!"

The dirt, the grime, the sailors.
The sounds of man at work and worry.
Your Album... My Critique

That's it! Hope you liked it.

Mark Prindle
Winner, Best Of Music Writing 2010

Oh how my life has changed since I wrote this review. And not in a good way either. I assumed I'd be granted carte blanche to have sex with everybody, but instead they glare at me in the streets. Glare! Glare!

I remember the good times, before I wrote this review. Life seemed so rosy and open-ended. Now it's an ever-spiralling descension into guilt, failure and despair. If only there were some way I could take back this review -- yes, simply turn back time and return that poisonous ink to the pen from whence it came. But who am I kidding? There's no erasing the breakdown, the murders, the duplicitous nature of man himself. If only I hadn't strayed from my comfortable record reviewing domesticity. What would have been wrong with a simple "This is the first of the 'modern' Nick Cave records, a well-produced combination of the creepy and the crooning. Not just atmospheric, but musical too!"? Why was I so intent on tearing God down from his throne? These questions persist, and do not desist.

There! Now that's REALLY it! Didn't you love the postmodern touch? And the way I began to speak like your average life-ravaged Nick Cave protagonist? This is because I'm the Best Music Writer of 2010!

Mark Prindle
World Champion, Best Of Music Writing 2010

Now that I've won my place in the pantheon of such critical music thinkers as Gina Arnold, let's actually talk about what the fucking album sounds like.

It sounds GOOD is what it sounds like! This is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performing actual songs. No more skeletal blues or noisy soundscapes. Instead, we get an eight-song collection of melodic anxiety, horror, beauty and non-redemption. There's no musical theme per se, unless 'creepy' counts (and if it does, it still only applies to five of the eight songs). But here, check out these awesome descriptors I made up for each song:

"Your Funeral... My Trial" - gorgeous and heavyhearted piano ballad
"Stranger Than Kindness" - trance-inducing guitar bed of uncertainty
"Jacks Shadow" - forewarning hammer-on crash-and-burner
"The Carny" - unhinged glockenspiel death waltz
"She Fell Away" - fly-buzzing halt-ringing creepout
"Hard On For Love" - writhing lock-grooving Godfucker
"Sad Waters" - stupidly vocalized demo-quality mix of otherwise lovely '50s-style ballad
"Long Time Man" - anthemic Tim Rose cover

Seriously, why on Earth didn't Nick erase the guide vocal of "Sad Waters"!? Now there are TWO vocals, both sounding half-assed and singing the words at entirely different times! Otherwise, the record is flawless. Flawless and dreadful, that is!

On this review page, you will encounter many quoted lyrics. This is because Nick Cave is one of my favorite lyricists. For those of you who dislike lyrics and all they stand for, I have put the lyrics in delightful rainbow-colored text throughout the page. Here are some from this record:

"Here I am, little lamb...
Let all the bells in whoredom ring
All the crooked bitches that she was
(mongers of pain) saw the moon become a fang"

"And the carny had a horse, all skin and bone
A bow-backed nag, that he named 'Sorrow'
Now it's buried in a shallow grave
in the thin parched meadow"

"Sometimes at night I feel the end it is at hand
My pistol going crazy in my hand
For she fell away, o she fell away
walked me to the brink, then fell away"

"'And Shadow, you're just a gallow that I hang my body from
O shadow, you're a shackle from which my time is never done'
Then he peeled his shadow off in strips
He peeled his shadow off in strips
Then kneeled his shadow on some steps
And cried, 'What have I done!?'"

See??? I just (PICTURE OF A VALENTINE) his harrowing language and disturbing imagery! His stories inevitably focus on the murderous and macabre, and are usually set some time in the distant past, be it the lawless Old West, 16th century Scotland, 18th century Appalachia, the 19th century Victorian era, or even way back in Church Times! But hey, isn't that what being a 'Goth' is all about? After all, Gothic: noting or pertaining to a style of literature characterized by a gloomy setting, grotesque, mysterious, or violent events, and an atmosphere of degeneration and decay: 19th-century gothic novels. Heh heh!

Mark Prindle
Principal Author, Worst Of Music Writing Ever

Reader Comments
Great page, Mark, as always.

I've always liked YFMT the most, Henry's Dream is a close second.

Did you know that the late Rowland S. Howard (what an untimely death) sings background vocals on 'Do You Love Me, Pt. 1'. No???

One of the greatest career arcs in rock'n'roll, along with Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo.

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
Ehhh. Kind of feels like he's marking time. This is a fairly generic early Nick Cave record; while there's nothing truly offensive here, it kind of goes on and on, doesn't really go anywhere, and when it does go somewhere it's usually somewhere fairly boring. A lot of people love The Carny but it's way, way inferior to the similar long, croony rambling story-songs he did on FHTE - if you can seriously look me in the eye and tell me you think 'Cabin Fever' is less atmospheric and evocative and creepy than 'The Carny' I can only conclude somebody replaced your stereo speakers with an old shoe without you noticing. And 'Scum', while it starts with an awesome spitting noise and waily 'wayelll' that makes me momentarily think Nick's gone back to his crazy Birthday Party days, just turns into a rather tedious self-justifying rant about... hell, I don't know, some music critic whose wife he boned? Honestly, who cares? I mean I suppose if I was the most acclaimed and adored and famous musical recording artist of nineteen eighty whatever the fuck like Nicholas Edward Cave here I wouldn't be able to resist the opportunity to set the record straight on a few people who'd pissed me off but I'd at least make it a B side.

6 / 10

A "double-EP," was it? I got the CD+DVD reissue of this too....have you seen the DVDs? They all have talking-heads bits where everyone associated with Nick Cave except Cave himself talks about the various records. These interviews are okay because they don't seem too hell-bent on kissing Nick's ass. Anyway, this album. The totally sick-ass "The Carny" and "Sad Waters" are the biggest highlights IMO--the "ballad" EP is far better than the "bar-rock"-ish second half which does next to jack shit for me. I'd give the album a 7--your 9 is one of a small string of glowing reviews I've seen for this one lately. Pitchfork reviewed the reissues too and gave this one a 9.5 or something, easily the highest rating given to his first four albums. I'm kind of mystified--I just don't get that second half at all!!

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Tender Prey - Mute 1988
Rating = 8

And the Mersey Beat is bouncy! And I think the Searchers trouncey! Anyway I'm yearning for a Gerry and the P

It's a sad day indeed when a fella can't rouse a bit of laughter with a hilarious "Weird Al" Yankovic-style parody lyric. But between the horrific Earthquake disaster in Haiti (caused by their pact with the devil. True story!) and the unexpected death of young rock performer Johnny Stink or whatever his name was, there's just not much room for humor around here at the moment. So thank the rainbows that Australia's Nick Cave wants nothing more than to depress you - oh yeah!

Tender Prey is another 'classic' Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds CD, boasting stylistic diversity, lyrical bleakness and colorful arrangements similar to its predecessor. Keyboardist Roland Wolf and Gun Club/Cramps guitarist Kid Congo Powers have now joined the band, though each only plays on about half of the songs. Brooding yarns of capital punishment, lost souls, murder sprees, peeping toms, barbaric torture, Old Testament vengeance, human predators, loss and loneliness coat your brain in blood and muck even as the band extends its range to include such non-haunting subgenres as Tom Waitsy whiskey bar slosh, bachelor pad schmaltz, C/W gospel and even bubblegum pop!

Not that any of those musical surprises will help you shake off the awesome driving intensity of guardian angel lament "Sugar Sugar Sugar," Angry God wrath warning "City Of Refuge," or string-laden goosebump masterpiece "The Mercy Seat," which follows a convicted murderer (who steadfastly proclaims his innocence) down the long, long hall to the electric chair -- where finally, after one hundred and eleven lines, he breaks down and admits his guilt. Anyone who complains about the length or repetitiveness of this song needs to stop cleaning their ears out with a dick. By repeating the same chorus with slight lyrical variations over and over and over as the band works itself into a brewy frenz of heady, Nick paints an indelible portrait in your mind -- he's getting closer to the chair.... closer.... he's still defiant, but he's getting closer... still defiant, but closer, closer.... He's almost there.... And then at the final possible moment, he admits "I'm afraid I told a lie." BAMMMM!!! Just like Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking To And Fro! This song is so phenomenal, the rest of the album can have the day off.

Okay, we're back. Good morning! Other highlights include the typically depressing yet beautiful piano dirge "Mercy" (complete with some fucken weirdass noise that sounds like a digideroo) and the hilariously upbeat bubblegum rocker "Deanna," which covers the plot of Natural Born Killers in a 24th of the time for 48 times the enjoyment. I now bring you some more great lyrics from the Nick Cave Chapbook Of God And Evil:

"Into the mercy seat I climb
My head is shaved, my head is wired
And like a moth that tries
To enter the bright eye
I go shuffling out of life
Just to hide in death awhile"

"Who's that hanging from the gallow tree?
His eyes are hollow but he looks like me"

"We will eat out of their pantries
And their parlours
Ashy leavings in their beds
And we'll unload into their heads"

"The moon was turned toward me
Like a platter made of gold
My death, it almost bored me
So often was it told"

"In the days of madness
My brother, my sister
When you're dragged toward the Hell-mouth
You will beg for the end
But there ain't gonna be one, friend
For the grave will spew you out
It will spew you out!"

"He insists that he piss in your fist
But he still takes the money anyway
The master's a bastard
But don't tell Sunday's slave"

"Sugar sugar sugar
Try to understand
I'm an angel of God
I'm your guardian
He smells your innocence
And like a dog he comes
And like all the dogs he is
I shut him down
Sugar sugar sugar
I can't explain
Must I kill that cocksucker

A few weak tracks prevent the album from earning a 9 -- particularly the peeping tom piano bore "Watching Alice," astonishingly misguided EZ listening corn cob "Slowly Goes The Night," and churchy album closer "New Morning" which, though a nicely placed respite from the preceding darkness, is essentially just a rewrite of "May The Circle Be Unbroken." However, you're missing a major chunk of must-own Nick Cave genius if Tender Prey isn't part of your collection. So buy it!

And look, I've even provided you with an easy-to-use link at the bottom of the page! Right under the naked doodle of Sarah Palin.

Reader Comments

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
After graunching and grinding, lurching forward, nearly stalling out, getting stuck in reverse and almost backing into a lamp-post, Nick Cave finally gets the gearbox of his musical career into 'drive' mod and peels out onto a three-lane blacktop of musical goodness. Tender Prey is the beginning of what is, for me, the peak of Nick's creative achievement - the 'quality quadrology' that begins here in 1989 and ends in 1994 with Let Love In. I read somewhere that he quit heroin while recording this album, but apparently he also quit it in 1998, so either this is untrue or he started using again at some point. But the reason for his success is only important to really picky musical archaeologists - the main thing is he is good here. It seems Nick's finally absorbed the lessons of Kicking against the Pricks and is able to wield his eclectic musical influences far more adroitly than he did on Your Funeral or Firstborn. The unquestionable masterpiece of the album is The Mercy Seat, which alone would elevate this album to among his best, but there's plenty of other tracks to kick your butt off the table, along the mantlepiece and right out the door - 'City of Refuge', 'Sunday's Slave', 'Up Jumped the Devil' and even the moronically jazzy 'Deanna' which shouldn't work but somehow does. Even the low points are less actively offensive than just puzzling - everybody talks about how ending it with the hopeful, optimistic 'New Morning' is so clever, but it's clever in a way that makes me image smug old Nick chortling to himself and imagining how absolutely fucking mindblown his fans will be - not an impulse I'm keen to indulge with my acclaim. Not that Nick gives a crap what I think - he's an Australian, I'm a New Zealander, and if there's one thing you can say about Australians is that they don't listen to New Zealanders have to say about anything.

9 / 10

I'd give this one a 10, easy--one of Nick's two real masterpieces, IMO. Again I figured the general bloodiness and nastiness of the whole affair would've resulted in higher than an 8 but I guess you and me are REALLY starting to disagree about his ballads at this point--I totally love "Watching Alice" (beautiful accompaniment to a rising sun) and "Slowly Goes The Night" (play this one driving along a long road at night) in addition to just about everything else--only "Sunday's Slave" strikes me as weak. Of course all the bloody stuff, the "Mercy Seat" and the hilarious "Deanna" and "Sugar Sugar Sugar" which took me years to appreciate but it was oh so worth it--are all terrific. This one's just gotten better and better with each passing year even though the credits for each song make it look like recording this one was a mess. They haven't reissued this yet, so I've no idea what the players have to say about it. I'd personally recommend this as an ideal place to start with Nick, myself.

Cave appeared in John Hillcoat's cynical Australian prison drama "Ghosts...Of The Civil Dead" in 1989 and did the music with Bargeld and Harvey...he plays a psychotic racist in a couple of creepy scenes, go check 'em out on Youtube (the whole movie was uploaded awhile back which is how I saw it...not sure if it's still there or not) if you like, the whole movie is pretty good low-budget filmmaking.

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The Good Son - Mute 1990
Rating = 7

Oh what a jolly fun evening I've had here in the States. I went jogging with Henry The Dog, then tossed his leash onto his back so he could walk home at his own pace (i.e. slow and sniffing every goddamned thing in the world). But when I reached Park Avenue, I realized that he'd been standing at one point in the middle of the block for far too long. Upon investigation, I found the monster snout-deep in a garbage bag. So I yanked his snout out, stuck my hand in the bag, and felt chicken bones.

If you're not a dog owner, you may not be aware that chicken bones can be hell to murder on a dog's digestive system. In fact, my wife's childhood dog died from injuries sustained by ingesting just such items. So usually when this happens (every nine months or so because asshole New Yorkers are always tossing their chicken bones on the sidewalk like pricks), we drag Henry home, throw him in the shower stall, and force salt down his throat so he'll throw up. This was my plan for tonight, but when we got home, I found no salt with which to induce vomiting! So I decided to give hydrogen peroxide a try, even though I've never had luck with it in the past.

And what a delight I had forcing tons of horrible liquid down my little friend's throat (and all over his face), jostling his body around and pleading with him for half an hour to throw up as he circled around panting, stinking and crying. Finally, at tit's end (nipple), I wrapped a towel around my gigantic penis and knocked on the neighbor's door to borrow some salt (at 1 AM). It was then that I finally heard the joyful sound of a dog vomiting in a shower stall. And within minutes, I had dug SIX chewed-up chicken bones out of his puddle of grotesquery.

Speaking of dog puke, The Good Son finds Nick Cave "in love" and "off heroin" so he's in a "good mood" or some bullshit. So if you love Nick Cave's bloody tales of macabre and mayhem, great news! This album's full of easy listening music.

Alright, I'm generalizing. Only 4 of the 9 songs are easy listening music. But 3 of the other 5 are depressing piano dirges and an uptempo gospel rocker, leaving only two menacing pieces of classic Cave antagonism -- and even one of those is caged inside a pleasant church spiritual! Come on Cave get depressed and drug-addled again no one likes a normal nellie.

Honesty be told, the record is better than you'd expect from such a career departure. The mix is full of beautiful string arrangements that sound like a Moody Blues album, Mick Harvey's vibraphone adds high-pitched color to the normal-pitched piano work, and the best songs prove that Nick is as capable of writing a beautiful sissy song as he is of screaming about Jesus's trash can. The problem is that the material is more hit-and-miss than usual. Between the dull, simplistic verses of "The Weeping Song" and "Sorrow's Child," the shitty Vegas verse of "Lament," and the complete throw-it-out-the-fucken-window snorebore "Lucy" (which closely resembles that terrible song the folkie strums in Animal House before John Belushi grabs his guitar and smashes it against the wall), one could be forgiven for writing Cave off as a harmless alternative crooner for boring old people. In fact, I did just that for several years! Here, let me tell you about it.

One day when I was but a young person, I happened upon a Mute Records Sampler Cassette somewhere or other. In addition to giving me the entirely wrong impression of Throbbing Gristle (an a capella version of "Subhuman"!?), the sampler introduced me to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds through the laugh-out-loudingly misrepresentative "The Ship Song," leading me to imagine him as a two-bit Frank Sinatra imitator for many a year to pass! In fact, even after becoming a Birthday Party fan a few years later, I continued to labor under the misconception that Nick had completely changed his style and persona for the Bad Seeds. Essentially, I thought of the Bad Seeds as Nick Cave's "Buster Poindexter" to the Birthday Party's "New York Dolls." Not until the late '90s did I finally pick up the Bad Seeds greatest hits compilation on a whim -- and it BLEW MY ASS SO FAR AWAY FROM MY BODY THAT I SHIT OUT OF MY SPINE NOW.

These days, I love "The Ship Song" with 60% of my body mass. It's a beautiful pansy ballad for girls, and I could simply kiss it, it's so lovely. Ditto for the Perry Como rest stop "Foi Na Cruz," a gentle string-driven pop song that I'd kill to hear in my dentist's office. But would I give either tune a second ear if I were still unaware of Nick's darker side and stellar non-easy-listening discography? I doubt it. What would be the point? I am no fan of croonerism.

As expected, there are fewer devastating lyrical passages than usual, but here are some dozers:

"And just when it seems as though
All your tears are at an end
Sorrow's child lifts up her hand
And she brings it down again"

"O father, tell me, are you weeping?
Your face seems wet to touch
O then I'm so sorry, father
I never thought I hurt you so much"

"I stumbled into a city
Where the people tried to kill me
And I ran in shame
Then I came upon a river
And I laid my saddle down
And then the hammer came down
Lord, the hammer came down"

Bottom line: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BEGIN YOUR NICK CAVE COLLECTION WITH THIS RECORD. However, if (a) you're already a fan, and (b) you are capable of enjoying easy listening ballads and gospel/spiritual songs if they are sufficiently well-written, then give it a try. It's not his most consistent record, but its finest moments (ex. the haunting chorus of the otherwise unfathomably bad "Lament") soothe the soul like a pillow full of marshmallows soothes the mentally deranged.

Reader Comments

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
Patchy, patchy, patchy. This is, weirdly, both the first album where Nick openly descends into self-parody (if you don't believe me when I say The Weeping Song is essentially a parody of goth culture, just check out the video) and where he starts penning ironically sincere slow-mo piano pieces. I can't even say that either impulse is better than the other - The Weeping Song is a great deal of fun, but The Hammer Song is kind of unecessary; conversely, The Ship Song is a pretty epic, emotional ballad while Foi Na Cruz is quite unbearably pretentious. At its best, it's as good as anything he's ever done, at his worst, it's hard to imagine why he bothered. This is probably the weakest of the quality quadrology - it has some great moments, but it feels, once again, like a marking-time album, although at least Nick never stops being diverting, even if he's not always super-rewarding.

8 / 10

I hate to tell you this, Mark...but I DID begin my Nick Cave collection with this album before any of his others, around 2004....and I totally love it even if the closest it gets to gritty and bloody is "The Hammer Song," which is the album's worst track and its only true throwaway, IMO. Ball-less though the album may be, I think most of these songs are just beautiful--"Foi Na Cruz," "The Good Son," and my all time favorite Cave song, yes, I hate to say it, "Lucy" are the biggest highlights. God, that coda to "Lucy," with the's eerie. Sends shivers up my spine. I think he may be slightly tongue in cheek with how he sings the song, but it's beautiful to me all the same. Not to be critical or anything--it's impossible to describe why I would prefer one Cave ballad to another in most cases. I love the chorus to "Lament" even if the verses are corny. You don't like how Blixa does the counter vocals on "The Weeping Song"? Anyway, if you want to hear Nick be quiet and pretty, these songs beat the tar out of his 1997-2003 stuff. The biggest 10 I could give him.

Now, now, children
A bit of history seems to be in order here. At this point in his life, Nick was starting to see the Brazilian woman and wrote this for MONEY. Not for a new house in Sao Paulo or for a pram for his soon to be born child, nor for a novel spanking new internetical spaxial connexion at home so he could keep an eye on Mark's world renowned writings online. No. You see, Sao Paulo has a knack on getting you back in touch with your old friends. Soon after the Brazil move, Nick was so hooked on the "good shit" he couldn't even remember his name! Don't get this album wrong - it was entirely written (well, almost entirely) before his being re-acquainted with his friend of old and thus a true move into the clean commercial side of rock. But things went on to take a slightly different direction. Once he realized said wife-to-be was in no manner or shape capable of sustaining his regained friendship, he needed to find funds. (he will later make a veiled reference to these times of struggle in a later album). Do not at any moment think that he is proud of these times, nick regards them as a "part of a crooked learning curve". The album is hit-and-miss but, if you look closely enough, is one of his most desperate moments.

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Henry's Dream - Mute 1992
Rating = 9

Henry The Dog dreams almost every night. Usually it involves a bit of paw twitching and closed-mouth barking ("Brf! Brf!), but occasionally he'll toss in some tail wagging or an adorable little growl. We've caught him suckling a few times too, like a little puppy dog man. I obviously don't know for sure what his dreams entail (PUN HILARIOUSLY INTENDED!!), but here are a few possibilities:

1. He's trying to chew a knuckle bone but his teeth keep falling out.

2. He walks into the Dog Run and suddenly realizes he's not wearing any fur.

3. He's back in Puppy Kindergarten and there's a big exam coming up that he hasn't studied for.

These are all interesting concepts, so it's no surprise that Nick Cave decided to write an album about them. First he wrote "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry" about how I always pet him and say "It's okay" when he has a nightmare, then "I Had A Dream, Joe" is about Henry waking up and telling a dog named Joe about his dream, then "Straight To You" is about how he sometimes farts in his sleep with the businesshole pointing pillow-ward, then "Brother, My Cup Of Kibble Is Empty" invo

Thank Gigglewags that Macaulay Culkin's The Good Son was just a phase, because Henry's Dream finds Nick Cavity And The Bad Teeth back in GREAT DARK FORM -- this time in the Old West! Hence its subtitle Back To The Future Part 3.

Yes, the grand epic Western scale sweeps across the plains with dramatic minor-key acoustic strumming, bold and brash string arrangements, and the most debauched selection of Western tales since Gene Pitney shot Liberty Valence and Johnny Cash flushed you down his toilet of love. Here, let's join the dirt roads, barrooms and whorehouses already in progress:

"God-damn this town for I am leaving now
But one day I will return
And the people of this town will surely see
Just how quickly the tables turn"

"And guns did flare and guns did bawl
And I planted my bolo knife
In the neck of mad John Finn
I took his wretched life
Now I'm over near the bandstand
Every hand moving on John Finn's wife"

"So buy me one more drink, my brother
Then I'm taking to the road
Yes I'm taking to the rain
I'm taking to the snow
O my friend, my only brother
Do not let the party grieve
So throw a dollar onto the bar
Now kiss my ass and leave."

"I had a dream, Joe
You were standing in the middle of an open road
I had a dream, Joe
Your hands were raised up to the sky and your mouth was covered in foam
I had a dream, Joe
A shadowy Jesus flitted from tree to tree
I had a dream, Joe
And a society of whores stuck needles in an image of me"

"I entered through, the curtains 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 the guilt
And it's into the fucking fray
And the walls ran red around me
With a warm arterial spray"

Essentially, it's like the darkest Johnny Cash album ever recorded. But I guess that's why they call Nick Cave the "Man In Blacker"! Heh heh heh. And true, these songs might sound a bit samey to Old West Playa Hatas (particularly "Papa Won't Leave You Henry" and "Brother My Cup Is Empty," as you can probably tell by the rhyming titles), but the gritty acoustic chugging and cinematic string sections never wear thin if such mythology appeals to you. Plus, there is musical variation here: "Jack The Ripper" is western blues, "Loom Of The Land" is a western ballad, "When I First Came To Town" is misleadingly gentle western folk -- and neither the beautiful love song "Straight To You" nor the churchy organ dirge "Christina The Astonishing" are western at all! So get the hell off the album, you assholes.

By the way, if you're wondering why Nick Cave decided to become Mr. Westy all of a sudden, here's a quote I found online that might shed some light on it: "I really liked that old TV show Best Of The West and I thought maybe if I did a ablum of songs like that, they'd bring the show back. Also I don't think they had bras back then and boobs gimme a boner."

You can view the original quote online at The Nick Cave Interview Archives

Reader Comments
I prefer Sun City Girls "Jacks Creek", if we're talking disturbing contemporary country. But because I can't be bothered backing that thin statement up, feel free to wipe it from your records.

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
Fuck. Yes. The absolute peak of Nick's musical career, and one of the greatest albums of the 90s. There are only two tracks on here that aren't super awesome great - Christina the Astonishing and When I First Came to Town - and even they're pretty good! The rest of it is solid gold - the paranoid apocalyptic deleria of Papa Won't Leave You, Henry; the manic drinking anthem of Brother, My Cup is Empty, the wistful, candy-cane saccharine Loom of the Land, the gloriously pointless graveyard rock of Jack the Ripper. I could go on and on and on, but really this album is where Nick realises what he does better than almost anybody else - creates weird, semi-dreamlike, semi-gothic imagery and weaves it around folk-death-rock. A shame he didn't just keep doing it, but that's musical growth for you! That's 'growth' in the sense of 'cancerous growth', for the record. Oh and apparently Nick himself hates this album, once again proof that sometimes, it's easier to write a good song than recognise one.

10 / 10

Not much to say about this one--all the acoustic guitar playing and slight Old West feel are what makes it stand out indeed, I'd hand it an easy 8 and don't dislike any of the songs, although the only really *wonderful* ones are "I Had A Dream, Joe" and the beautiful "Loom Of The Land" with those sighing background vox. Apparently Cave hated how the album was produced (don't those keyboards on "John Finn's Wife" sound a little weird?) but I don't see what the big problem was...I think this is the point where Blixa Bargeld began to shrink in the background, either that or "The Good Son." Good album anyway..

Add your thoughts?

Live Seeds - Mute 1993
Rating = 8

Speaking of "live seeds," I saw DRI (Dirty Rotten Imbeseeds) live tonight! It was the fifth time I've seen them since 1989, and here are the songs they performed, this night in January 2010.

Dirty Rotten LP: Commuter Man, Who Am I, Couch Slouch, Violent Pacification

Dealing With It!: Snap, I'd Rather Be Sleeping, Yes Ma'am, Soup Kitchen, Mad Man, Karma, Nursing Home Blues, I Don't Need Society, The Explorer, How To Act, Shame, Argument Then War

Crossover: The Five Year Plan, Probation, A Coffin, Hooked

4 Of A Kind: Do The Dream, Slumlord, Dead In A Ditch, Suit And Tie Guy

Thrash Zone: Thrashard, Beneath The Wheel, Abduction

Definition: Acid Rain, The Application, Dry Heaves

Full Speed Ahead: Problem Addict, I'm The Liar, Wages Of Sin

New: Against Me

So the question is, with all these great DRI songs to choose from, why on Earth did Nick Cave play nothing but Nick Cave songs on this live album? Come on, "The Weeping Song"!? Why not "You Say I'm Scum"? Also, the sound is completely monochromatic, lacking all the color and dynamics of the studio recordings. Nick's voice is much louder than the instruments, which all kinda clompf together as one big bland mass. Songs like "Papa Won't Leave You Henry" and "John Finn's Wife" are definitely hurt by the lack of dramatic strings too. Luckily the song choice is ecstatically flaptastic -- any album with "The Mercy Seat," "Deanna," "Tupelo," "The Good Son" and "From Her To Eternity" can't be ALL bad!

Kick Knave and the Sad Beads perform four Henry's Dreamers, three each from The Good Son and Tender Prey, one each from The First Born Is Dead and For Her To Eternity and a mellow bluesy cover of Nina Simone's "Plain Gold Ring." But you know what really pisses me off? In "Papa Won't Leave You Henry," Nick changes the hilarious lyric "And the walls ran red around me with a warm arterial spray" to the namby-pamby "And the walls ran red around me, and washed me all away"! What is this, the 'CLEAN' version!? What's next -- a rewrite of "Deanna" where it's about going to Dairy Queen? Then what's after that -- a version of "The Mercy Seat" where he's talking about taking a dump? Actually that wouldn't be cleaner. Never mind.

But the real stupid thing here is that (according to Internet legend, anyway) the reason this CD exists is because Nick was unhappy with the mix of Henry's Dream. That's fucking nuts in more ways than one, but especially since this mix sounds like someone threw the tape in a blender and set it on 'dull.'

Actually, wouldn't that kick some ass if blenders really did have a 'dull' setting? Where it tried to chop up your vegetables with a really dull blade? And you'd just sit there and watch the tomato go around and around and around, bouncing off a fat worthless steel nub for half an hour? Aw man, if I were a blender inventor, it'd be like China under Mao Tse-Tung: No Class!

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* Let Love In - Mute 1994 *
Rating = 10

The classic Nick Cave CD to end all classic Nick Cave CDs, Let Love In jumps from genre to genre like a tick in a nudist colony (oh alright, that's "gender") while sharing some of the most disturbing, heartbreaking and hilariously self-deprecating lyrics in history's ever. Morbid suave-rock, gorgeous piano balladry, growly guitar sleaze, speedy cowpunk, western drama, minor-key sorrow, comical gospel, violins of eerieness, intrigue jazz and even a soon-to-be METALLICA SONG all make their presence known in hit after hit after hit -- for a total of three hits ("Do You Love Me?," "Loverman" and "Red Right Hand").

Luckily, the other seven songs are great too. And both the musicality and mix are crystal clear FABULOUS, with echoing, twanging and rocking guitars sharing space with regal piano, menacing slinky bass, '60s organs, bright clanging bells, mournful violins and crisp rat-a-tatting drums. Also, have you heard Nick Cave's voice? Man! He has a voice.

Lyrically, about half of the tracks seem to be about relationships gone sour, but even these are open to interpretation. For example, "Do You Love Me?" is by all accounts simply a song about an unhealthy relationship. However, since "Do You Love Me? (Part 2)" is clearly about a boy being anally raped in a movie theater ("As the great screen crackled and popped/The clock of my boyhood was wound down and stopped/And my handsome little body oddly propped/And my trousers right down to my ankles"), its predecessor can just as easily be read as the first-person tale of a minister (perhaps the adult version of "Part 2"'s boy) sexually abusing a little girl. Judge for yourself: "She was given to me to put things right"; "I found God and all His devils inside her/In my bed she cast the blizzard out"; "Our love-lines grew hopelessly tangled/And the bells from the chapel went jingle-jangle"; "Well, I try, I do, I really try/But I just err, baby, I do, I error"; "Ah, here she comes, blocking the sun/Blood running down the inside of her legs"; "I swear I made every effort not to abuse her/Crazy bracelets on her wrists and her ankles/And the bells of the chapel went jingle-jangle." See? I'm not making it up! Granted I just watched Deliver Us From Evil a few nights ago, but still.

Other "Hey Love! You suck eggs!" lyrics strewn throughout the album include:

"Yeah, I was her man, but there are some things even love won't allow
I held her hand but I don't hold it now
I don't know why and I don't know how
But she's nobody's baby now"

"L is for LOVE, baby
O is for ONLY you that I do
V is for loving VIRTUALY everything that you are
E is for loving almost EVERYTHING that you do
R is for RAPE me
M is for MURDER me
A is for ANSWERING all of my prayers
N is for KNOWING your loverman's going to be the answer to all of yours"

"Well I've been bound and gagged and I've been terrorized
And I've been castrated and I've been lobotomized
But never has my tormenter come in such a cunning disguise
I let love in"

"Once there came a storm in the form of a girl
It blew to pieces my snug little world
And sometime I swear I can still hear her howl
Down through the wreckage and the ruins
And it ain't gonna rain anymore
Now my baby's gone"

While we're on the subject, I was having this dream the other night about a gigantic house full of pies, cakes, ice cream, cookies, candy and other assorted sweets, when I noticed that one of the tables featured little bags of "Vaginal Creme"-flavored M&M's. As one would, I naturally assumed it was a sick joke, but all the other types of M&Ms on the table were completely legit (dark chocolate, coconut and so forth). So if you run across such a product at your local Adult Candy Store, remember you heard it here (*Megadeth bass line*) first!

Oh, and then last night I dreamt that I was sleeping in my old '83 Monte Carlo in the middle of the road, and when I opened the door Henry The Dog jumped out, ran up to my (non-existent) Jeep, jumped in and drove away! Can you believe that goddamned dog? Get outta my non-existent Jeep, you Krazy Kanine!

Mmmm I could go for some Krispy Kanine donuts right about now.

And if you thought Nick Cave was all doom and no giggles, wait til you hear "Jangling Jack," "Thirsty Dog" and "Lay Me Low"! Here, check out these lyrics:

"Your butt is wide
Well, mine is too
You'd better watch out
Or I'll sit on you!"

"How come you're always such a fussy young man?
Don't want no Captain Crunch; don't want no Raisin Bran
Well, don't you know that other kids are starving in Japan?
So eat it! Just eat it!"

"We've been spending most our lives
Living in an Amish Paradise
Churned butter once or twice
Living in an Amish Paradise"

Ha ha! You tell 'em, "Weird Nick" Cavovic!

In addition, here are some other, more accurate lyrics:

"He says 'I'm Jangling Jack, I go Do do do!
I want a Rinky Dink Special; I want a little umbrella too!'
Jack flops on his stool, sees the grinning man laugh
So Jack laughs back, Jack raises his glass
Says, 'God bless this country and everything in it!
The losers and the winners, the good guys and the sinners!'
The grinning man says, 'Buddy, it's all Yackety Yack'
Whips out a little black pistol, shoots a bullet in Jack"

Whee! And another.....

"Forgive me darling, but don't worry
Love is always having to say you're sorry
And I am, from my head down to my shoes
I'm sorry that I'm always pissed
I'm sorry that I exist
And when I look into your eyes, I can see you're sorry too!"

Ho! And one more Laughter Jackpot from Nick Cave's Humor Factory Of Gags:

"They'll interview my teachers
Who'll say I was one of God's sorrier creatures
There'll be informative six-page features
When I go
They'll bang a big old gong
The motorcade will be ten miles long
The world will join together for a farewell song
When they put me down below"

Well, they're funny when he says them.

My point is clear: this is the Nick Cave CD with which to begin your collection. (A) It's diverse, unlike several of his others that focus on one type of music; (B) it's extremely consistent, with creative melodies, strong vocals and intriguing instrumental tones coming at you left, right and sinker; and (C) the lyrics are uniformly excellent. So don't delay, Tom!

(Heh heh, little "Tom DeLay" joke for all the asshole Republicans out there.)

Reader Comments

Hugh Eldred-Grigg
So I'm guessing that jolly old Saint Nick broke up with some vagina-having type at some stage between 1992 and 1994. I don't know anything about Nick's relationship preferences - and if I did, I think they'd probably basically be like 'Zoo Music Girl' except without a guy with a village people moustache and tight leather pants - but he's written what might be the ultimate break up album here. Relationships winding up are pretty much stock in trade for rock band music writers, but Nick has taken the standard formula of wistful-regret-for-lost-affection, contrasted it with the slightly less common joyful-affirmation-of-sexual-and-personal-freedom, and forged his own, new, pioneering, kind of dark and scary path between them - one that charts the wild oscillations between longing, hatred, paranoia, misogyny, pity and desperation that anybody who's had a really bad break-up knows all too well, but probably hasn't heard coupled with such competent musicalness before. Once again, the great tracks just keep on coming and coming - 'Do You Love Me?', 'Loverman', 'Jangling Jack', 'Thirsty Dog' and of course the thematically inappropriate but still arse-kicking 'Red Right Hand'. The quality isn't quite as uniform as it was on Henry's Dream but there's only one unecessary track, the reprise of 'Do You Love Me', which while lyrically interesting is kind of meandering and pointless and actually detracts from the musical fury of the original version of the track, which is rather like somebody reprising the Sistine Chapel by crudly widdling on the floor in the shape of two hands touching.

9 / 10

I wouldn't in a zillion years have expected you to give THIS one the 10! Aside from the 3 AWESOME "hit singles" including the ubiquitous frequent-movie-theme "Red Right Hand" (which has a cool 50s feel) and the original "Loverman" (which kicks the shit out of the macho Metallica version...and I LIKE "Garage Inc." for the most part, but they didn't make this song better by getting rid of the industrial-ish guitars and keyboards!), this album's pretty damn creaky and inconsistent, I gotta disagree with you there, man. "Do You Love Me, Part 2" (with those fucking sick lyrics...disgusting, aren't they?) and the amusingly funny over-the-top delivery on "Lay Me Low" are the only other songs I really care for. "Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore" is murky but doesn't go anywhere that I know of, "Nobody's Baby Now" is a dull filler rewrite of "Straight To You" and "Jangling Jack" and "Thirsty Dog" are GOD AWFUL Cave-as-bar-band horseshit....hell, "Jangling Jack" sounds like the one you'd think Metallica would like to ruin, not "Loverman." The lyrics to the song are retarded and Nick's voice sounds like a guy puking up little bugs from his throat. I'd give this a 7--the singles kill the rest of the record, mostly. I wouldn't stop anyone from picking it up though--I just think Nick had started to get a little dry on ideas for his typical sound, meself.

P. S. RIP, Rowland S. Howard, who did backing vocals on "Do You Love Me," though I can't pick him out of the mix. I agree the production on the album is fine.
An interesting album. I'm not sure if I should wear my heresy on my sleeve so, but Nick Cave's a fella I care far more for as a "musical atmosphere" person than a "lyricist/intellectual" person--frankly his damn singing voice just drives me up the annoyance wall. It's obtrusive, it has no tone, it grates, he makes no attempt whatsoever to actually hit the notes, AND sometimes the lyrics get drowned out by the noise guitar. Yuck.

However, when it supports music this intriguing, I can quite forgive. If anything, it reflects his "widely-listened" persona--he takes from all periods and styles from indie rock to folk to blues to ambient to outright NOISE, and makes them all sound of the same. No mean feat. Perhaps that's the point he's trying to make--all great music is GREAT MUSIC, no matter the genre, and the more it all joins together as one, the better. Plus genre elitism is stinky. (It smells.)

Heck, when he bothers to exercise his talent in the area, he can write a mean melody, too. Not enough for me to totally love this album (particularly on side one--"Red Right Hand" makes me want to use the irony hammer in a malicious way), but No More Shall We Part was eight years away.

An intriguing portrait of intellectual indie rock from the early '90's that isn't from Snark Island. I give it an 8.

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Murder Ballads - Mute 1996
Rating = 9

Rumor claims you don't frequent FaceBook, so here are some of the knee-slapping status updates I've posted of late. I'm certain they'll have you saying, "Hey, he's filled with laughter and light! Why are his reviews so grave and unamusing?"

Mark Prindle just watched "Fletch Lives." SPOILER: Fletch lives.

Mark Prindle just watched Chevy Chase's "Funny Farm." A more appropriate title might have been "Farm."

Mark Prindle just watched "Death Ship," a delightfully gruesome (if inept) film about a Nazi torture ship that sinks an ocean liner and possesses George Kennedy. DO SOMETHING, RICHARD CRENNA!!!

Mark Prindle just watched "The Second Coming Of Eva." It was filthy, so I'm calling the police.

Mark Prindle is a huge Palin fan and supporter. Cleese and Idle are great too.

When I read in the Federal Express that Sick Need & The Bad Caves were planning to murder salads, I nearly drank a Pepsi with my (*continues being hilarious to a quite extraordinary degree*)

This album, per its title, is a collection of traditional and original murder ballads, a particularly violent subgenre of folk balladry that originated in Scandinavia, England and Scotland. Each song in this tradition involves a murder, murderer, murderess, series of murders or the album Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the no hold on

First things to say: the music is extremely repetitive. Local folkspeople back in the 17th century weren't exactly whipping out the intricate fret runs and time signature changes, and Mr. Cave has not altered this aspect. He has, however, been kind enough to add piano, bass, guitar, organ, strings and drums to the traditionally a capella form, which I think is a nice gesture. He's also offered up a fair bit of musical diversity for what could've been a strictly 12-bar folk presentation. Instead we get everything from dark creepiness and manic insanity to haunting sorrow, suave piano jazz and even funky gangsta rap! I realize I combined 'mood' and 'subgenre' there, but life is tiny; I can't sit here and think all day, I got shit to do.

The lyrics are the real attraction here, as these tales of murder and cruelty -- involving psychotic paramours, homicidal outlaws and even a serial killing little girl -- are the equal of any horror movie. But prepare yourself for lots of sudden mood shifts, as Cave has no qualms with shifting randomly between terror, tragedy, black humor and a Bob Dylan cover. Rather than dare run the risk of your being haunted for all times by his sick and painful ways, I'll share with you some sample lyrics from the work: The TERROR! The TRAGEDY!

"Joy had been bound with electrical tape
In her mouth a gag
She'd been stabbed repeatedly
And stuffed into a sleeping bag
In their very cots my girls were robbed of their lives
Method of murder much the same as my wife's"

PJ Harvey: "Lie there, lie there, little Henry Lee
Till the flesh drops from your bones
For the girl you have in that merry green land
Can wait forever for you to come home"

Kylie Minogue: "On the third day he took me to the river
He showed me the roses and we kissed
And the last thing I heard was a muttered word
As he stood smiling above me with a rock in his fist"

"They found Mary Bellows cuffed to the bed
With a rag in her mouth and a bullet in her head
O poor Mary Bellows"


"'I'll stay here till Billy Dilly comes in, till time comes to pass
And furthermore I'll fuck Billy Dilly in his motherfucking ass,'
said Stagger Lee
'I'm a bad motherfucker, don't you know
And I'll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy's asshole,'
Said Stagger Lee"

"Since I was no bigger than a weavil they've been saying I was evil
That if 'bad' was a boot then I'd fit it
That I'm a wicked young lady, but I've been trying hard lately
O fuck it! I'm a monster! I admit it!"

"Well Jerry Bellows, he hugged his stool
Closed his eyes and shrugged and laughed
And with an ashtray as big as a fucking big brick
I split his head in half"


"Death Is Not The End" from the otherwise godawful Down In The Groove LP

Murder Ballads is a horrifying, heartbreaking and hilarious CD that I'd have to imagine won't appeal to all tastes. The ridiculously blood-drenched storylines and imagery at times even seem like intentional self-parody, as if Cave is just having a laugh at the fans who enjoy only his more morbid work. But who cares? It's a great album, and my wife's favorite Cave release by far. The only complaints I might make are that (a) "Henry Lee" and "The Curse Of Millhaven" have the same chorus, and (b) though "O'Malley's Bar"'s tale of a madman murdering every single patron of a crowded tavern is an over-the-top hoot, its two simple chords wear extremely thin over the course of fourteen and a half minutes.

So what is the appeal of horror? I love horror movies to bits and pieces, but why? Obviously I wouldn't want any of their events to happen in real life, so why the appeal of watching their fictional depiction? I guess because I like movies to make me feel things. Good horror leaves me scared in a good way -- in a way that makes me think, "Man, what a great story! What a unique twist! Good job!" When I watch a horror movie, I want my mind to become frightened, just as I want a comedy to force me to laugh or a seXXXXee movie to give me a gigantic veiny pulsating heart filled with love. I don't care much for dramas, romance or action movies because they don't force my body or brain to have any reaction at all. And if there's no fear, laughter or boners, what's the point? "Plot"? Hey, up your ass.

Strangely, I like documentaries. Maybe they make me feel "enlightened"?

Bottom line: if it's fear and laughter you're after, Murder Ballads is tailor-made for you to wear it! Can't help you with the boner though. Maybe you can pretend the cabin on the front cover is a big pussy?

Oh, I'm sorry. "Vajayjay" is the hip today's slang term for it. Thanks for nothing, the otherwise hilarious Superbad film!

Reader Comments
I'm surprised no one has commented on this, this record is probably his most popular record in america. I think i would give it an 8, you're right, O'Malleys bar goes on too long & the Dylan cover is living proof that Blixa whatever cannot sing. Just for lyrical content alone, I would give it a high rating, but I'm a psycho.

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The Boatman's Call - Mute 1997
Rating = 6

Oh no, look at that termite! IT'S BORING a hole in the wall! Thank goodness IT'S SO EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW AND LETHARGIC, because now we have time to stop him in his tracks! How can he stand performing that MINDLESSLY REPETITIVE activity over and over again? This is hilarious, let's keep doing this. Now push the termite "INTO MY A

Probably bored sillypants with macabre songwriting after Murder Ballads, Mr. Cave decided to record an album of original Love Ballads -- some optimistic, some tragic, all slow. His lyrics, though put to different use here, are mostly as strong as ever; it's the music that "lets down the side," as I'm told they say in Britain. After a promising first half filled with gentle piano romance ("Into My Arms"), heartfelt organ hookery ("Brompton Oratory"), acoustic religious grandeur ("There Is A Kingdom") and heartbreaking longing ("Are You The One That I've Been Waiting For?"), nothing new happens. The CD simply continues -- as slowly, repetitively and unenergetically as before -- with hardly any worthwhile new melodies to show for it.

Nick Cave has never had trouble writing a decent ballad; heck, some of his greatest songs are slow and gentle. But to methodically plan an entire CD of overlong and underwritten love ballads placed end to end with no musical or temporal variety whatsoever, he must've been high on Opium Dope! Yes, a couple of songs feature the full band, one is accordian-based, a third might be called 'western folk,' but for the most part we're looking at interchangeable 1 BPM piano ballads. More Leonard Cohen than Nick Cave, and far, far too samey.

Seriously, I really do love the four songs listed above, as well as the excellent slow rock song "Idiot Prayer." But do the rest of these songs even count as music!? They just sound like a guy falling asleep face first on a piano and snoring for five minutes. "People Just Ain't No Good" is a perfect example -- three lovely 'oh well' piano chords played at a turtle's sluggish snail pace OVER AND OVER AND FUCKING OVER for six minutes. The verse and chorus feature the EXACT SAME MUSIC -- THREE FUCKING CHORDS! (To be fair, there is a middle eight later, but it stinks). And don't even get me started about "Black Hair": "Her beautiful black hair/As deep as ink and black/Black as the deepest sea/The smell of her black hair upon my pillow/Where her head and all its black hair did rest." Hey Nick, keep saying 'black'; eventually you won't sound like a special needs child.

Other than that abor(mina)tion, he's still The Lyrics King (but wouldn't be for much longer, so appreciate it):

"I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you, I wonder if that's true
If I did, I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you"

"I wish that I was made of stone
So that I would not have to see
A beauty impossible to define
A beauty impossible to believe"

"All the world's darkness
Can't swallow up one single spark
Such is my love for you"

"Out of sorrow, entire worlds have been built
Out of longing, great wonders have been willed
They're only little tears, darling, let them spill
And lay your head upon my shoulder"

"Across clinical benches with nothing to talk
Breathing tea and biscuits and the Serenity Prayer
While the bones of our child crumble like chalk
O where do we go now but nowhere?"

"It's good to hear you're doing so well
But really, can't you find somebody else that you can ring and tell?
Did you ever care for me?
Were you ever there for me?
So far from me"

My conclusion: excellent love-related lyrics from a variety of narrators (including those who love, those who've lost, those who hate, and even a murderer!) set to the slowest, blandest music in the world (aside from five really good ones). Take the advice of my tip: go online and read the lyrics, then buy all his other records instead.

Reader Comments
Here's where I definitely agree with you. So far the only album of his where I found myself actively wanting it to end. There were about three songs left, and I was looking at my iPod saying, "Nick, I don't know how much more of this I can take. All these songs are super boring and it sounds like you're barely trying. I'm gonna do you a favor and listen to the rest of this album just because I'm obsessive-compulsive about finishing albums once I've started them, but I want you to know I'm making a big exception here because I could just go and listen to Dig Lazarus Dig or Junkyard or something you've done that makes this snoozefest look like a Tori Amos album. And you KNOW how much Mark Prindle hates Tori Amos."
I’m going to defend this one. Now obviously Boatman’s Call is not Cave’s best record (occasionally too watery), it’s not even in his top 5, but I’ve never had a problem with it. Perhaps the album is self-consciously loveable, perhaps it takes a sentimental kind of person to love it – perhaps. But every time I play BC, I feel seduced by all those long, moody, gorgeous songs. Really, it’s so very lovely I don’t give an f-word how long these songs are – it’s just Cave’s style, minimalist, powerful. Short and with more chords it wouldn’t make sense – and neither would ‘Mercy Seat’.

It’s another matter whether PJ Harvey deserved all that depression (but I can only judge in terms of music, obviously), but the songs are strong. I particularly like the cynical but irresistible ‘People Ain’t That Good’, the melodic ‘Brompton Oratory’ and the simplistic-but-so-gorgeous-it-hurts ‘Golden Hair’ (all accordion and atmosphere).

Really, an absolutely fine album. Just very very quiet – no problem with that. I give it a nice, healthy 8. Next time, though, he would add more substance and release his all time best.

It's A DIVORCE ALBUM, Mark! He himself classes it as "a sore wank"! But his collaboration with this producer produced (see what I did there?) four great sound studio sessions/albums

I love this one as it was written after I helped him with wholistic healing. It has a deep deep meaning that only he and I know about.

This whole boring record as it is called here on your site, infact, is Nicholas Edward Cave becoming a transcendent being. The reason you all hate it so much is that you need healing too. Not to worry all of you have influenced him again by trashing his gentle side, luckily not towards addictions at least.

He is an old friend of mind before this life time when he was a girl, who just loved to sing her heart out, just to hear the pure sounds of her heart. So now he sings for you to please you...he will again transcend. As shall we all at some time.

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Live At The Royal Albert Hall - Mute 2008
Rating = 8

Last night I performed "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Back In Black" for Karaoke Night at our local Mexican Restaurant. My second selection was supposed to be "Thunderstruck" but the woman pushed the wrong button so instead of following the lyrics on the screen, I just screeched a bunch of rhythmic jibberish into the microphone in the best late-period Brian Johnson voice I could muster (which sounded amazingly like a rooster -- particularly whenever I shouted "Baaaa-ACK!").

So the question is, with all these great Karaoke songs to choose from, why on Earth did Nick Cave play nothing but Nick Cave songs on this live album? Come on, "Lime Tree Arbour"!? Why not Boston's "More Than A Feeling"? I'll give him this: the sound quality here is much stronger than on Live Seeds. You can actually hear the individual instruments! A piano here, a violin there, a fiddle here, a keytar there. And wowee the acoustics at The Royal Pain In The Ass!

Sky Saxon's Seeds stood in for the Bad Seeds on this night (there was a flight mix-up), so every song is just a variation on "Pushin' Too Hard," but what do you want for nothing? A rubber biscuit? The set list features four The Boatman's Call tracks WHICH IS PLENTY THANKS, along with three Let Love In, two Murder Ballads and one each The Good Son, Tender Prey and Your Funeral...My Trial. Bester yet, it only repeats TWO tracks that appeared on the previous live album! ("The Ship Song" and "The Mercy Seat")

This live CD was originally included with The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as a 9-song bonus disc, but was reissued a decade later as a standalone release with "The Weeping Song" removed and four songs added. I have nothing much to say about it besides "Good show, Messers Cave!" It's kinda weird to hear Blixa sing Kylie Minogue's "Where The Wild Roses Grow" vocals, and odder still to hear Nick take both roles in "Henry Lee," but with songs those good, who needs bitches? "Bros before hos" is totally what Nick and Blixa was all sayen n shit. In fact, if you listen closely between songs, you can hear Nick's wife backstage cooking dinner and having a baby.

So if it's a Nick Cave live album you're after, look no further than the mirror -- where you should ask yourself, "Why the hell do I want a Nick Cave live album!?" Sure the songs are mostly well-performed, but it's not like they rip into an awesome 15-minute Slayer medley or anything. Nick doesn't even talk to the crowd.

(other than to say "Fuck you, I wrote a book" with his eyes.)

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No More Shall We Part - Mute 2001
Rating = 8

Well, I bought a new guitar today. And it's.....




























Okay, it's not really eating my face. But it sure is STUPID-looking, am I right who's with me? Here's Henry The Dog enjoying it for a moment:








Yes, there's truly nothing like a stupid-looking guitar to get the pulse of Mark Prindle's arm racing with "I Gotta Have It"s! Interestingly, I'm pretty sure this is the same kind of guitar that Nick Cave plays, here, on the piano. But enough about me; let's talk about No More Shall We Fart (BRAAAAAPPPP!).


First there was Murder Ballads, then Love Ballads, and now it's time for Depression Ballads. This album is full from stern to bow with slow, mournful piano/violin songs of pain, age, death and heartache. Like a late-period Swans record, it finds its beauty in the sheer immensity of its sorrow. I'm almost embarrassed for liking this album so much more than The Boatman's Call considering that it's every bit as mellow, slug-paced and samey. The difference is that the relaxed blandness of that record has been replaced with stormy emotion and haunting melody. Also Nick sings in a higher register, which is certainly a weird twist on the formula.

If it's not sad piano ballads you're after, you're pretty much out of luck. "Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow" is a bit jazzy, "Gates To The Garden" has a happy chorus, and "God Is In The House" is a purposefully bland piece of social satire, but the other nine songs will piano your ass off. Speaking of 'sorrow,' backing vocals on this disc were provided by The McGarrigle sisters, one of whom passed away just a few days ago. :7( <-- Somebody should put that on her headstone, because it's very sad.

These songs don't lend themselves to willy-nilly quote-pulling, so instead I'll just give a quick run-down of the goodtime party with beer and sex to be found within:

-- "As I Sat Sadly By Her Side" - A woman marvels at the beauty of the world; her man counters by pointing out the ugly nature of mankind. She cries and withdraws; he smiles.
--"And No More Shall We Part" - A man marries solely from fear of being alone.
--"Hallelujah" - A lonely old man takes a rare walk into the night during a brutal storm. A young woman invites him into her home, but he is too afraid of change to accept this chance at happiness. Instead he returns home and cries.
--"Love Letter" - She has left him and he prays that his letter will win her back.
--"Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow" - Everybody is buried to death under the title substance. Perhaps you know the "Weird Al" Yankovic parody, "Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Dick." It won a Grammy, just like all his other terrible songs.
--"God Is In The House" - This is the social satire one. Pbbll. More sorrow please! And make mine a SAD one!
--"Oh My Lord" - A man loses his mind and can't understand why God has forsaken him.
--"Sweetheart Come" - She has had great troubles in her life, and he is trying to console her. (I love this lyric: "Today's the time for courage, babe/Tomorrow can be for forgiving/And if he touches you again with his stupid hands/His life won't be worth living")
--"The Sorrowful Wife" - His wife hates her life and just wants to die.
--"We Came Along This Road" - He has just murdered his wife and her lover.
--"Gates To The Garden" - The world is pain, death and sorrow -- but not to him, because he has a loved one (hence the happy chorus).
--"Darker With The Day" - There has been no peace or happiness in his life since she left him.

WHEEEE!!!! Pass the popcorn! I'm gettin' HORNY!!!!

As miserable and one-note as it is, I'm quite fond of this record. Unfortunately, Nick hasn't written a decent set of lyrics since. Seriously, have you heard THIS one!?

"Hey hey! Let's go bobbing for testicles
Balls in a barrel, all swishing around
Hey hey! Let's go bobbing for testicles
Get a mouth full of nuts and swallow 'em down
(*knockers solo*)

I mean SERIOUSLY - how does that even compare to "The Mercy Seat"!?

Reader Comments
HERE. Right the fuck here. This is Mr. Cave's proof of album greatness.

A common thing we here nowadays (in these our modern times) is that CD lengths are bad, and that artists should stop trying to fill them. Lies, LIES, all of it lies. If No More Shall We Part were a good little LP and totaled a proper 45 minutes, it would be boring AND optimism-sucking at the same time. Instead, it's one of the best epic-length ultra-sad statements ever conceived. And it also proves that, generally speaking, when one has a vast gift for composing weary old piano ballads that sound from 1895, one should USE IT MORE OFTEN dammit. Who needs sarcastic wit when you have DEPRESSION??

Yeah, he still can't sing, but oh well. At least he tries this time around.

I've never been a big fan of the "hit single" from this thing ("Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow"), but I'd be surprised if tracks 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, and 12 DON'T get played endlessly on "Classic College Rock" ten years from now. If not, well, I'll have to start my backup plan and become a media magnate (or some horseshit).

78 minutes of depressing glory. One of the best of the 2000's. I give it a Buy New.

(And somebody tell Mr. Cave to let fans hear the Boatman's Call on Rhapsody WITHOUT PURCHASING. I can't very well decide what music to buy if I have to buy BEFORE deciding, now can I?)

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Nocturama - Mute 2003
Rating = 5


Seriously, somebody keep Nick Cave away from his naked lady pictures before bed because this NOCTURnal AMAssion is leaving salty stains all over the sheets of my happiness!

The problem is simple: too many obvious songs. He gives us his most stylistically diverse selection since the mid-'90s -- four happy love ballads, two morose dirges and four actual UPTEMPO ROCK SONGS(!!!!)! Unfortunately the majority of the compositions sound, both musically and lyrically, as if they were written by radio-focused 'song doctors' like Russ Ballard and Desmond Child. Nick should be the absolute master of slow ballads at this point, but his strong openers (jazzy "Wonderful Life" and warm "He Wants you") soon give way to heinously predictable soft rock garbage like "She Passed By My Window," "Rock Of Gibraltar" and "Right Out Of Your Hand." Even his long-awaited return to aggressive music flatlines half the time, with the wonderfully abrasive organ screecher "Dead Man In My Bed" and eerie guitar tune "There Is A Town" forced to coexist with corny tuff rocker "Bring It On" (shame on you, The Saints' Chris Bailey) and 15-minute idiotfest "Babe, I'm On Fire."

And what in Christ's Ass happened to his lyrics!? Did somebody replace his brain with a garbage pail? Look at this no-talent shit-for-words:

"Come in, babe
Across these purple fields
The sun has sunk behind you
Across these purple fields"

(Nice rhyme!)

"And he wants you
He wants you
He is straight and he is true
Ooh hoo hoo"

(Say.... nice rhyme!)

"The leaves outside the window waved, all brown, they were, and falling
Even I could tell the atmosphere in here was utterly appalling
The phone it rang incessantly but nobody was calling"

(Say.... you wouldn't be writing a bunch of meaningless fiddle-faddle just for the sake of rhyme?)

"Hide your eyes, hide your tears
Hide your face, my love
Hide your ribbons, hide your bows
Hide your coloured cotton gloves
Hide your trinkets, hide your treasures
Hide your neatly scissored locks
Hide your memories, hide them all
Stuff them in a cardboard box"

(Don't stop there! I must know what else she can hide!!!)

"There is a town where I was born
Far far away across the sea
And in that town where I was born
I would dream that one day
I would leave and cross the sea"

(What are you, buying poems from eight-year-olds now?)

"The best thing I done
Was to make you the one
Who I'd walk with down to the altar"

(I think I killed about ten brain cells just typing that)

"She passed by my window
Her eyes were all aglow
And bent to pick her glove she'd dropped
From the bright and brittle snow"


But these pale in comparison to the Imbecile's Delight that is "Babe, I'm On Fire," a one-part rock song that wafts its brutal stench of idiocy through THIRTY-EIGHT VERSES, all following this single 'clever' formula:

"The Chinese herbologist says it
The Christian apologist says it
The dog and the frog
Sitting on a log says
Babe, I'm on fire
Babe, I'm on fire"

Okay, if this were a Monkees song, I might think, "Hey good one, Micky Dolenz." But this is NICK CAVE we're talking about. Is he really so bone-dead dry that cute meaningless wordplay is his whole raison d'etre for an entire FIFTEEN-MINUTE song!? Here are a few more uproarious verses from this nightmare:

"The wine taster with his nose says it
The fireman with his hose says it
The pedestrian, the equestrian
The tap-dancer with his toes says
Babe, I'm on fire
Babe, I'm on fire"

"The robin with his beak says it
The bathtub with its leak says it
The lover, the shover
Staying 'round to hover says
Babe, I'm on fire
Babe, I'm on fire"

"The child with his bike says it
The lesbian with her dyke says it
The ripe tomato, the mashed potato
The scout leader on his hike says it
Babe, I'm on fire
Babe, I'm on fire"

"The Mexican truck driver says it
The man watching MacGyver says it
The preacher, the creature
The horror double-feature says it
Babe, I'm on fire
Babe, I'm on fire"

Weren't they great? I wrote the last three myself in less than four minutes total!

So what is up with this record? Was Cave intentionally trying to dumb down his music for radio success? Or did he just wake up one morning to find his brain shrunken to half its size? I'll tell you one person who didn't stick around to find out: founding Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld, who said "Yech!" and hit the road shortly thereafter.

Reader Comments
Okay, I reacted a little too strong on your Facebook post proclaiming this to be a 5 at best. Part of my affinity for Nocturama is that it's the first album of Nick's I listened to, and you know how that goes. But after getting into everything else, I do have to agree that it's probably the weakest of them all.

BUT! I want to say that "Babe, I'm On Fire" is much better than you're giving it credit for. I see it more as this 15-minute journey through the world, with great music that I don't think gets old or tiresome, and he sounds really into it the whole way through. Maybe some of those rhymes are silly, but most of them are great.

And yes, "Dead Man In My Bed" smokes hard.

I suppose it's a high 6, or a low 7. Sorry for ever doubting you!

Add your thoughts?

Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus - Mute 2004
Rating = 7

With this double-CD, Cave dives into the most commercial waters of his entire career. Where his earlier music sounded predominantly like Nick Cave (with occasional flashes of Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash), it now seems to suck influence from every successful radio act in the worldosphere, including Mitch Ryder, Peter Gabriel, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Blind Melon, Jon Spencer, Pearl Jam, The Cure and even Bob Seger! This came as an extremely exciting surprise back in 2004, when we all assumed that Cave would release nothing but piano ballads for the rest of his career. Instead, we got a wide-ranging mix of upbeat and hooky music encompassing classic rock, garage stomp, dark funk, world music-inflected blues-rock, novelty soul, demented country-blues and mellow acoustic folk. Not until the last five songs were we finally reintroduced to the traditional Cave sorrow and creepiness -- and by then we'd already enjoyed more than ten 'feelin' good' radio hits!

I don't know whether it was the universal panning of Nocturama or the departure of Blixa that made him pull such a 360, but for better or worse, this is certainly unlike any Nick Cave we've heard before. The double-disc's only flaw is an inordinate amount of sheer cheesiness. The main culprit is a group of female vocalists who contribute corny soul/gospel backup to almost every song, often making the venture sound like yet another misguided Roger Waters solo album. I mean, it's Nick Cave; most people would KILL for that voice. Why on Earth did he think that a bunch of high-pitched vocalists all singing the same notes would be a boon to the project!? Was he just feeling lonely in the studio? Whatever the case, these vocals couldn't be any cheesier if they showed up on an Eric Clapton record, and I almost definitely would've given Abattoir/Lyre an 8 without them.

Musically the record features a lot of brash '60s organ, loud guitars, and raw crisp drums in addition to the usual piano. Warren Ellis does some fine work too, creating a few of the oddest and most disorienting violin loops in himstory for the darker tracks at the end. Compositionally, the album is impressive in that it's composed of highly commercial music that, unlike Nocturama, is not revoltingly obvious and dumbed-down. The anthemic rockers "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" and "Nature Boy" would sound fantastic on classic rock radio, and thoughtful pop rockers "Let The Bells Ring" and "Breathless" aren't far removed from material that Tom Petty and John Mellencamp have already landed on the charts. Even if the most affecting material is the darker, more traditionally Cave-esque material that closes the project, the earlier material may be more impressive because it shows that Nick is capable of following the rules of commercial songwriting without churning out predictable sell-out garbage.

I remember being very disappointed in the lyrics when I first bought it, but that must've been because I hadn't read the lyrics to Nocturama yet. Compared to THAT record, these lyrics are... well, boring. They do include a few surprisingly gross rhymes though, including this 'yech!' refrain from pastoral folk waltz "Babe, You Turn Me On": "Now the nightingale sings to you and raises up the ante/I put one hand on your round ripe heart and the other down your panties." You tell 'em, Tesco Vee!

Now here's a comedy list of good tidings:


1. You hear a muffled voice telling the butter he's going to let it finish.
2. The carrots are auto-tuned.
3. Your fruit drawer is rife with complaints that 'George Bush doesn't care about blackberries.'
4. You find twelve Grammies in your baking soda.
5. Your green beans are now accompanied by an intricate string arrangement.
6. The bananas ripen two hours late and post an angry blog blaming your jam.
7. Evel Knievel keeps asking to see your kitchen.
8. The chicken breasts die during augmentation surgery.
9. All your food tastes like a complete asshole.

Add your thoughts?

B-Sides & Rarities - Mute 2005
Rating = 6

Abbott: "Okay, the new Nick Cave release is called B-Sides & Rarities."
Costello: "Alright, what's on it besides rarities?"
Abbott: "No no, B-Sides & Rarities."
Costello: "I heard you! So what's on it besides rarities?"
Abbott: "B-Sides."
Abbott: "Who's on first."
Costello: "Oh, I see."

I just got back from a Gene Ween acoustic solo show! In addition to John Lennon's "Oh Yoko" and a bunch of new songs I didn't know, he performed:

The Pod - "Pork Roll Egg And Cheese," "Oh My Dear (Falling In Love)"
Pure Guava - "The Stallion (Pt. 3)," "Don't Get 2 Close 2 My Fantasy"
Chocolate & Cheese - "Buenos Tardes Amigos"
12 Golden Country Greats - "You Were The Fool," "I Don't Wanna Leave You On The Farm"
The Mollusk - "The Mollusk"
White Pepper - "Stay Forever," "She's Your Baby"
Quebec - "Transdermal Celebration," "Tried And True," "Chocolate Town," "The Argus"
La Cucaracha - "Spirit Walker"

So the question is, with all these great Ween songs to choose from, why on Earth did Nick Cave include nothing but Nick Cave songs on this b-sides & rarities triple-CD? Come on, "That's What Jazz Is To Me"!? Why not "Poop Ship Destroyer"?

This triple-CD features three CDs. The first two CDs feature b-sides, the third CD features b-sides and rarities, and there are also rarities on the first two CDs. The CDs include 32 non-LP originals, 32 b-sides, 12 cover tunes, nine alternate versions of LP tracks, five previously unreleased recordings, two complete three-song singles, three songs from limited edition CD releases, two flexidisc tracks, two radio session performances, two movie soundtrack contributions and one from a tribute album -- for a total of 106 songs out of 53. The recordings date from 1984 to 2004. That's three years to us dogs!

His voice constantly wavers in and out of tune on the early stuff, but that's still preferable to the Neil Diamond EZ listening bores that populate (and ruin) disc three. Notable moments include:

- Hilarious (if you know the originals) family-friendly Christian rewrites of "Deanna" and "City Of Refuge"

- The hooky hatefest "Scum," a bendy clangy attack on three rock journalists ("You gave me a bad review, and maybe you think that it's all just water under the bridge/Well my UNfriend, I'm the type that holds a grudge!")

- Sick sleazy jailhouse chant "The Girl At The Bottom Of My Glass" ("I can't raise my glass without seeing her ass!")

- Bluesy dark bouncy gospel "God's Hotel" ("Everybody’s got a harp in God's Hotel; everybody's got a harp/You'll never see a sign hanging on the wall sayin ‘There ain’t no harp-playing allowed in here anymore!'")

- Nick duetting with the Pogues' Shane McGowan on a woodwind arrangement of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World"

- Four more MURDER BALLADS!!!! And they're all GREAT!!! And one of them is "Froggy Went A-Courtin'"!!!!

- A lovely mournful collaboration with The Dirty Three (Bad Seeds violinist Warren Ellis's other band)

- Slightly out-of-tune but greatly in-of-wit "Little Empty Boat," which finds Mr. Cave trying to dodge a drunk Christian girl at a party ("I respect your beliefs girl and I consider you a friend/But I've already been born once; I don't want to be born again)

- 17 other songs I've no intention of describing

By its nature, this triple-disc is bound to contain its share of absolute garbage, but the fact that it features more than a disc and a half of excellent rare material is reason enough for any Nick Cave fan to pick it up. I've no clue why his cover of Elvis' "In The Ghetto" isn't included, but other than that it seems pretty comprehensive. Not that I would know one way or the other. All I know is that this small black cardboard box is a godsend to collectors who've been trying to hunt down all this material for years -- the sort of gift you usually only get from bootleggers! So kudos aplenty are due to the band and label for pulling it together.


Reader Comments
I believe "in the ghetto" wasn't included on b-sides and rarities because it appears on the CD release of 'From Her to Eternity'.

Add your thoughts?

The Abattoir Blues Tour - Mute 2007
Rating = 6

Today I had an audition for FUSE TV, which sounds pretty exciting, right? Unfortunately, I showed up and found a "Pop/Hip-Hop Quiz" waiting for me. Obviously I don't listen to that HORSESHIT so I only knew a few answers. At my wife's recommendation, I answered the others in a silly manner. Here are as many as I can remember (both correct and jokey). ENJOY! Because FUSE TV sure didn't!

1. Who originally recorded the song "I Don't Hook Up," made famous by Kelly Clarkson?
(my wife's answer) Probably not John Mayer

2. What is the relationship between Miley Cyrus and Metro Station?
Isn't it obvious? The 'M's!

3. Name three artists that Timbaland has worked with.
Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Chris Cornell

4. What artist recently resigned as president of Island Def Jam?
Probably not Rick Rubin. Umm... Run? D.M.C.? Probably not Bob Marley.

5. What is Alecia Moore better known as?

6. What is Eminem's posse called and why?
D-12 because they're from Detroit

7. Who discovered and signed Panic At The Disco?
I don't know, but I hope it was a nice disco! Ha! No no, I realize Panic At The Disco is the name of a band. Sigh.

8. Name three members of Wu-Tang Clan.
GZA/The Genius, RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard (RIP)

9. Who is Johnny Crack?
The man with the worst pseudonym in the world

10. Name one artist who formed Cash Money Records.
Johnny Cash and Eddie Money. Come on, ask me something hard!

11. What artists were members of Fugees?
Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean

12. What was Fergie's first band before she joined Black Eyed Peas and eventually went solo?
Bruce Springsteen. No wait hold on

Then I went in and there was a pile of CDs and they said 'Riff on these!' I did, but it was pathetic shit like "Ne-Yo! That's one of those Yo-Yos that you drop and it doesn't come back" and "'Keri Hilson - In A Perfect World,' I would have heard of her!"

Asshole Pop People. They told me to come equipped with my love for and knowledge of music. I do love music! But I don't give two shits about celebrity, which is all they asked me about. Curses!

This album blows. In fact, I'd rather suck my own dick than listen to it. One second: (glug glug glug glug)

Sorry, I was drinking some Yoo Hoo. But as I was saying, this album is Nick Cave's way of saying, "Hey! The older I get, the weirder and warbler my voice gets! Also, I brought the corny girl singers on tour with me because they're so cheesy!" He plays TEN TEN TEN songs from Double Album/I Forgot The Name and a mere 2 each Let Love In, The Good Son and 1 each No More Shall We Part, Tender Prey and whatever the hell MA stands for. Also, check this out: (*has gigantic penis*)

"The Ship Song" now appears on all three of Nick Cave's live albums. Good work, pussy. A lot of the songs sound dull here, with no energy or emotion. Also, musically, there's too little going on. Half the songs are like bass, drums and voice. Hey, check this out! (*has gigantic vagina*)

It's a double-CD with a DVD or two too but I haven't watched those. I only know Ear Language.

Blixa's gone so Nick sings all of "The Weeping Song" by himself. I bet this was his all-time dream in life forever and a day.

Here's a joke to end the month:

Lmpcl Lmpcl!
Who's there?
Shits McGeee
Shits McGeee who?
Shits McGeeero Wrap. Mmmm could I go for a Gyro Wrap.
Oh yeah? Well fuck off.
Hey man, come on. My butt hurts.
That's cuz I fucked it.

Stevie Nicks "Mark's Drunk" Prindle Nicks

PS People who support sports teams are fucking losers. If you're not (a) on the team, (b) friends with someone on the team, or (b) betting on the team, then what's your fucking problem, dumbass? The guys you're rooting for are probably much bigger pricks than the guys you're rooting against. You asshole.

Add your thoughts?

Grinderman - Mute 2007
Rating = 9

Grinderman isn't just an album title; it's also a band. Composed of Nick and three of his (500 or so) Bad Seeds, Grinderman was intended as a way for them to let loose, forget art and poetry, and play some sleazy rock! Considering Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus was recorded by a line-up so removed from the original Bad Seeds that it might as well have been attributed to The Birthday Party, I've no problem attributing Grinderman the album to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds the band. Even if your argument is "But Mick Harvey isn't in Grinderman," well, as of January 2009 he's not in the Bad Seeds either. :7(

I'll name my one complaint with the record right up front: drummer Jim Sclavunos never cuts loose. Just like The Firstborn Is Dead, Grinderman feels like a bunch of songs that could start KICKING YOUR ASS ALL THE WAY UP INTO YOUR STOMACH at any second, but never actually get around to doing so because the rhythm tracks are so limpwristed and weak. Luckily, unlike The Firstborn Is Dead, Grinderman is full of funny sex lyrics, awesome fuzzed-out guitars, distorted organs, random noise and LOUDNESS!!!! The instrumental tones alone make the disc worth at least 400 listens.

This is what The Stooges' The Weirdness should've sounded like: raw and primitive without being stupid and boring. As simple as these songs are (non-guitarist Nick Cave is the lead guitarist, if that gives you any indication), they are so fun, hooky and sonically pleasing that it never, ever feels like they are working below their skill level. Instead, they're applying their considerable creative skills to a more rudimentary (and less respectable) art form.

And what is that form exactly? The instrumentation is clearly rock-oriented but -- due mainly to Sclavunos -- very little of it actually "rocks." In fact, the list of honestly fist-pumping songs is limited to the garage rockers "Depth Charge Ethel" (eh), "Love Bomb" (yes!) and "Honey Bee" (HELL YES!!!). The others roll around between walls of minimalist fuzz-stomp, deranged violin scraping and Krautrocky noise repetition -- except for two 'mature' compositions (suave sex-funker "Set Me Free" and dirge ballad "Man In The Moon") that, though not bad at all (hence the 9!), would've fit in much more snugly on a proper Bad Seeds record.

Now then, some sleazy lyrics:


"He got in the British weeklies
He got in the dailies too
He drank panther piss
And fucked the girls you're married to"


"I bought her a dozen snow white doves
I did her dishes in rubber gloves
I called her Honeybee, I called her love
But she just still didn't want to
She just never wants to


"My baby said ‘You can sit there’
She reached down with her fingers
Her fingers went right through me
(I screamed my head off)
I was so thin and sick
I’m gonna send you a love bomb"


"If you want a piece of her, you better get in there fast
Right now there's a ticket box and a queue"


"We're sick and tired
Of all this self-serving grieving
All we wanted was a little consensual rape in the morning
And maybe a bit more in the evening"

If you own Abattoir/Lyre and Dig Lazarus Dig but can't figure out how he got from the first to the second, Grinderman is your answer. It reminded Nick Cave how much fun it is to leave the gospel schmaltz at home and just CRANK IT UP! And LET IT LOOSE! And BURN IT UP! And TEAR IT DOWN! And ROCK IT HARD! And PAINT IT BLACK! And SELL IT STOCK! And FEED IT DINNER!

Now then, on to more important matters:


Here are ten interesting facts I observed while watching the 2010 Grammy Awards. Perhaps you noticed them too.

1. Michael Jackson's children look like they never even met him, let alone sprang from his loins. I was hoping they'd look like two Michael Jackson zombies, come back to life to rape us all.
2. The person sitting behind Lady Gaga didn't have the best seat in town.
3. "Weird Al" Yankovic was nominated for Best Comedy LP even though he didn't release an LP this year. Good work on that, Grammy people.
4. A lot of hip-hop 'talents' still haven't realized that Auto-Tune wore thin roughly one second after "Believe" came out.
5. Terrible country musicians kept winning awards. Way to make America look even redneckier, Academy of PRICKS.
6. Pink makes a better sprinkler than she does a singer.
7. Green Day suck, always have sucked, always will suck, and SUCK.
8. Roberta Flack has had so much plastic surgery that she is no longer capable of making a facial expression.
9. What the hell was Jeff Bridges doing up there!? And don't try and tell me "Nothing says popular music like 'Jeff Bridges,'" because that's just untrue.
10. The Michael Jackson Tribute would've kicked a lot more ass had I remembered where my 3D glasses were before it was 85% complete.

But don't take my word for it: no less a ROCK GOD than the Didjits' Rick Sims responded to my recent Grinderman FaceBook post with "Give it a 9. I haven't heard anything better in ages."

Then he said something positive about the Eagles Of Death Metal so I tuned out. Up until then though, MAN!

Add your thoughts?

Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! - Mute 2008
Rating = 8

Dig your dog, Henry! Dig your dog, Henry! Dig your dog, Henry! Dig your dooooog!

Within three seconds of this CD starting up, you should either be dancing your head with abandonment glee or making an 'eww' face and wondering if you accidentally purchased the new Jon Spencer Blues Explosion LP. I'M THE FORMER.

But first let's talk about my dog's penis.

Even though Henry The Dog owns nothing resembling a ball on his body, the little pink thing inside his penis often shoots out to massive gigantic manly lengths when he gets excited about something. Hilariously, this excitement generally has nothing to do with a sexy dog, but rather with such daily occurrences as eating food, going outside or welcoming my wife home from work. So stop by the Prindle home some time (Don't; I'm speaking rhetorically) and you're more than like to hear such conversational pleasantries as:

"Henry's got a Breakfast Boner!"

"Look at you! You've got an Outside Boner!"

"I'm not naming names, but SOMEBODY'S got a Pizza Boner!"

"Do you have a Mommy Boner again?"

Yes, we're a church-going family here in America. But at least I've made my point: that Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! takes the unpretentious stripped-down volume of Grinderman and converts it into full-fledged Bad Seeds songs. '60s organs, soulful bass lines and driving uptempo beats make this one of the most accessible and instantly likeable discs in the band's catalog, and the failure of such fistpumping yet danceable rockers as "Today's Lesson," "Albert Goes West," "Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl)" and "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" to make a dent in the popular music charts is just further proof that all hope is lost, culture-wise. No, today we live in a world where "I'm Going To" is pronounced "I'm-a" and spelled "Imma," which makes no fucking sense at all.

It's not all rock though, and I'm sorry I lied to you like that. It was a bad thing I did. Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! may rock like a stone right out of the gate, but it soon opens up to include such wondrous and magical fare as sexxxxy soul, dark jazzy cool, brooding western acoustica, Latin balladry, mellow pop gorgeousness and -- in "Night Of The Lotus Eaters," one of the neatest-sounding Nick Cave tracks ever -- hypnotic Optigan-esque locked-loop repetition. Also, in another Grinderman-influenced turn, most of the songs have random dick-around instrument noises going on in the background the whole time! Guitar tinkering, violin shwishlies, loud organ brapps -- as long as it's not melodic, they'll throw it in. HOWEVER -- don't look for any piano ballads, because there ain't shit for none! In addition, there ain't no ass for shit.

There are a few weaker moments, but only very few. Minor-key soul rocker "Midnight Man" isn't bad, but I'm not sure it's three-chord melody is unique or hooky enough to support five whole minutes. "We Call Upon The Author"'s bass line instantly starts me singing Guided By Voices' "The Best Of Jill Hives," but the song's still passable and has in fact become something of a fan favorite. For my amateur reviewer's dollar, the album's only true stinker is "Moonland," a shitty beatnik-sex soul thing filled with bongos and rubbery fly-buzzing noises.

The mix is exceedingly strong and loud, the band adds lots of pleasant background vocals, and YAY NICK CAVE FOR STILL BEING GOOD AFTER ALL THESE YEARS! The lyrics are intentionally more abstract than in the past, which makes them a bit less interesting to story lovers like myself, but they're certainly not embarrassing. His baritone still sounds deep and confident, and his ugly new mustache and receding hairline make him look more like Nicolas Cage than his wife could ever have dreamt.

In conclusion, keep up the good work, Mr. Nick Cave! You also do soundtrack work!

Reader Comments (Olof)
Your Nick Cave reviews are a) hilariously funny (I even laughed out loud three times) and b) almost spot on. Good work! "Henry's dream" is apparently dismissed by many of his fans, but it's one of my favourites too. And "The boatman's call" seems to be one of his highest regarded albums, but that's where I lost interest in Nick Cave for several years. Too many "beautiful" piano ballads in a row for me. The latest three albums (Orpheus/Grinderman/Lazarus) are great, though.

I've never liked "Deanna", and I love "The weeping song", but otherwise - as I wrote, spot on. And funny!
This record is a piece of shit.

Please, someone, get Nick a bag of brown and a fresh spoon.

Add your thoughts?

Grinderman 2 - Mute 2010
Rating = 6

Before I begin, I just want to say that I was given a free ticket to see Ween in Central Park tonight, and the show was so boring that I left after seven songs. And My God, the HIPPIES! I didn't even realize NYC had so many hippies! If only I'd brought my oily rags and lighter. At any rate, here are the songs they played (poorly and boringly) before I left: "Buckingham Green," "She Wanted To Leave," "Bananas & Blow," "Learning To Love," "Transdermal Celebration," "Take Me Away" and "Don't Get 2 Close 2 My Fantasy." Jim Laakso stayed for the entire show, and his takeaway was "Now I know what happens when Phish meets Tenacious D." Now onto the review. (Sort of)

I just finished reading a great book by New Bomb Turks vocalist Eric Davidson entitled We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001. It's about the rise and fall of the '90s garage rock underground, including not just '60s-styled legends like the Gories, Oblivians and Mummies, but also such aggressive acts as Action Swingers, Candy Snatchers and Turbonegro. Aside from the punkier entries (including, of course, the New Bomb Turks themselves), I had mostly ignored these bands when they were active because I assumed they all sounded like The Cramps. But now that Davidson has me all excited about how drunk and violent they were, I'm downloading aplenty and loving even more! Some of the bands definitely mined the same rockabilly sleaze arena as the Cramps (A-Bones, for example), but most of them put their own spin on it -- whether it be strong '60s pop hooks (Cynics), indescribable weirdness (Country Teasers), or incorporating other musical genres like the blues ('68 Comeback), country-western (Compulsive Gamblers), '60s r'n'b (Bellrays) or '70s punk (ex. Chrome Cranks). The bottom line is that it's a great goddamned book about a whole bunch of exciting and energetic bands.

And this may be why Grinderman 2 so often comes across as a mediocre bore to me. It simmers, broods and occasionally even stomps, but far too much of it simply drags. Unlike the first Grinderman record, which kept things simple but also tremendously hooky, strange and humorous, 2 is hurt by too many generic riffs in songs that seem to drag on and on forever. The very first song, for example, repeats two boring bass notes and a single generic blues-rock riff for nearly SIX MINUTES, apparently assuming that if it has Nick Cave singing and a couple parts that get really loud, then it qualifies as a lean mean rocking machine. But it's a fucking bore! Even the much-loved single "Heathen Child" only has two parts (only one of which displays any creativity at all), and its five minutes feel like an eternity of ten minutes.

As a general description, I'll say that the record is slightly more diverse than the first Grinderman. In addition to the expected simmering minimal garage-blues-sleaze rockers, they try their hand at experimental barroom jazz, slow dramatic Krautrock, pretty piano pop and '60s psych. Sometimes this approach bears fruit, other times just fruitiness.

Nick Cave is a smart man, but this isn't a smart record; it's a lazy record. Every song is painted over with a ton of weird noises and sonic effects, but the melodies themselves are cliches. "Bellringer Blues" and "Worm Tamer" are perfect examples: the former is an embarrassingly by-the-numbers '60s psych tune buried under "Tomorrow Never Knows" toot-squeaks and droney pitch manipulation; and the latter's Bo Diddley beat and whistling, whooshing, squealing instrumentation are sonically very exciting, but the melody itself is just boring old G-A-E. (Yeah, more like G-A-Y if you aaa...) The worst offender though is "What I Know," a tuneless acoustic ballad inadequately disguised by wiry hiss and high spriggle-notes, sounding like something from The Flaming Lips' In A Priest-Driven Ambulance had that band consisted of actual Wichita linemen.

In spite of my disappointment with the material, I am impressed by the strange arrangements and soundscapes. There are so many bizarre noises, background vocals and unrecognizable instrumental tones overlapping each other in these songs that they not only elevate the weaker material, but convert the stronger (especially "When My Baby Comes") into darn near avant-rock masterpieces. Furthermore, the Neil Diamondy "Palaces of Montezuma" should please fans of The Good Son, and the sloppy blooze sleazer "Kitchenette" boasts as fun and drunken a mood as any of the bands in Eric Davidson's book.

Otherwise fuck it, it sucks.

The rest is good though. And I love that one song.

What's with all that other shit though? God! Talk about an eggplant!

Speaking of eggplants, here's a hilarious joke I just made up:

Q: What kind of plant is yellow in the center and covered with a clearish-white goo?

A: An Ejacu-dandelion!

Reader Comments

Bob Royale
As a Ween fan, I'd heard somewhere or other that a lot of Phish fans got into Ween when Phish broke up cause they're "trippy" and play long setlists, so I decided to see if it worked the other way- so I tracked down a live Phish thing because I guess they're supposed to be better live. It doesn't, Phish is fucking horribly boring. It tends to be like EXTREMELY LAME MAJOR KEY MELODY, GUY SOLOS FOR 10 MINUTES, SKIP TO THE NEXT TRACK...Still sucks...Still sucks....Still sucks...Hey this song is pretty good, oh OK it's a Talking Heads cover, that explains it- fuck these guys.

And good for Ween for playing a bunch of hippie fests and making some cash, but I keep not going just because I'm not willing to sit through some jam band, white reggae band, or (god forbid) a bunch of white guys jamming over reggae. I don't fault them for finding a niche when they can make money, but I'm just not dealing with that shit. I'm too awkward when I'm baked to deal with people that should have taken a shower a week ago.

As for Nick Cave- I haven't hear the album I'm commenting on (Yes, fuck you too), but he's one of those actually unique songwriters that I respect the hell out of and rarely listen to. I'm a Swans fanatic, but Cave's Let Love In is the one album I've ever had to get rid of because it depressed me so bad. Honestly! And that's from a guy who puts The Great Annihilator in his top five albums!

Keep shitting on bad albums, Mark.
Just listened to the record, and though I was slightly distracted by stuff while it played, I can sorta see where you're coming from here. It certainly doesn't have that immediate impact that their first one did, where it was just like a big sexy fist punching you over and over. But I think I'll end up liking this a bit more than you, just because it does seem to have a unique mood going throughout.

You do bring up an interesting point when you say that it sometimes seems like Nick Cave's philosophy is as long as he records music, there are hordes of people who are going to proclaim it to be brilliant. There are so many artists who enjoy this luxury, and I have to admit that I may be guilty of such behavior. It'd be enlightening to hear people be totally honest and say what they really think about an artist's song without any blinders on.

Add your thoughts?

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