Personally, I don’t think it should really be necessary to introduce Nick Cave. But, for anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with him (and after you’ve read this, please could you tell me precisely which rock you’ve been living under? Answers on a postcard…), he is a musician and songwriter, hailing from Australia. Cave is best known for his band, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, but first found recognition in post-punk noisesters, The Birthday Party, in the late ’70s, and is currently releasing music with his new band, Grinderman. As well as his considerable song writing talents, Nick Cave is also a novelist and screenwriter, but since this is a music web site, it’s best to leave that one alone for now. That said, his 1989 novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel, is a phenomenal foray into the Southern Gothic style and is a must-read for any fans of post-war literature, albeit a little on the disturbing side.
I listened to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds in my childhood, another boon from my parents’ music collection, but there was a point at about age 14 or 15, where I rediscovered the band on my own. Out of The Bad Seeds’ 14 studio albums, the first I really fell in love with was The Firstborn Is Dead. Which is probably an odd choice, but I love the slow, bluesy compositions on the album, and the darkly poetic lyrics. All of The Bad Seeds’ albums have their own particular charms, and as I don’t have time to go into them all, in detail or otherwise, I’ll go through a few of the most popular below.
The Boatman’s Call is probably one of the band’s most highly acclaimed records, critically speaking, and has a more stripped-down sound than most of The Bad Seeds’ previous work. Murder Ballads, as the title suggests, is a dark album of both traditional and new murder ballads. The most well-known song on the album is Where the Wild Roses Grow, on which Kylie Minogue provides guest vocals. Finally, the double album, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, contains a few more of The Bad Seeds’ best-known songs, notably Nature Boy and There She Goes, My Beautiful World.
Now, to confuse those with a love for chronological order, we will step back in time, to the world of The Birthday Party. They were a much louder and heavier affair than The Bad Seeds. Though they received very little commercial success during their time together, they have since been cited as an influence by many other bands, including Dinosaur Jr., The Jesus Lizard, My Bloody Valentine and even White Zombie (Rob Zombie’s old band).
Currently, Cave is playing in his latest band, Grinderman, the rest of the members of which are actually active members of The Bad Seeds. He stated that he began the project as “a way to escape the weight of The Bad Seeds”. I can see why he would, as there are a lot of expectations attached to a band as popular, and with such a large back catalogue. Grinderman are a lot rawer than The Bad Seeds, and in a lot of ways have more in common with The Birthday Party. Whatever you want to liken them to, Grinderman are really rather good.
And thus concludes this somewhat disjointed musing on the wonderful Nick Cave. I hope that any of you who are not already a fan will buy one of his records and give him a chance. And, don’t forget those postcards.