Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – 14 Studio Albums (1984-2008) [FLAC 24bit/48kHz]

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – 14 Studio Albums (1984-2008)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48kHz | Time – 16:10:52 minutes | 10.5 GB | Genre: Rock
Source: DVD | © BIS Records AB

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds:
– Current lineup
Nick Cave – vocals, piano, organ, harmonica, percussion, electric guitar, string arrangements (1983–present)
Thomas Wydler – drums, percussion, vocals (1985–present)
Martyn P. Casey – bass, vocals (1990–present)
Conway Savage – piano, organ, vocals (1990–present)
Jim Sclavunos – percussion, drums, organ, melodica, vocals (1994–present)
Warren Ellis – violin, fender mandocaster, loops, mandolin, tenor guitar, viola, bouzouki, accordion, flute, lute, piano, programming, percussion, string arrangements, vocals (1997–present; as guest, 1994–1997)
– Former members
Mick Harvey  – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, organ, percussion, piano, loops, string arrangements, vocals (1983–2009)
Blixa Bargeld – electric guitar, slide guitar, pedal steel guitar, keyboards, vocals (1983–2003)
Hugo Race – electric guitar, vocals (1983–1984)
Anita Lane – lyrics (1984)
Kid Congo Powers – electric guitar, slide guitar (1986–1990)
Roland Wolf (deceased) – piano, organ, electric guitar, vocals (1986–1989)
James Johnston – organ, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals (2003–2008; as guest, 1994)

1984 – From Her to Eternity

Nick Cave launched his solo career in style with From Her to Eternity, an accomplished album mixing the frenzy and power of his Birthday Party days with a dank, moody atmosphere that showed he was not interested in simply continuing what the older group had done. To be sure, Mick Harvey joined him from the Party days, as ever playing a variety of instruments, while one-time Party guest Blixa Bargeld now became a permanent Cave partner, splitting his time between the Bad Seeds and Einsturzende Neubaten ever since. The group took wing with a harrowing version of Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche,” Cave’s wracked, buried tones suiting the Canadian legend’s words perfectly, and never looked back. From Her to Eternity is crammed with any number of doom-laden songs, with Cave the understandable center of attention, his commanding vocals turning the blues and rural music into theatrical exhibitionism unmatched since Jim Morrison stalked stages. Songs like “Cabin Fever,” with its steadily paced drumming and relentless piano line, and the more restrained and moody “The Moon Is in the Gutter” sound like cabarets in hell. “In the Ghetto,” already perfectly suited to such a treatment, shows the underlying sense of beauty that defines the Seeds as much as drama. Even though it’s a Presley cover, the sense of Scott Walker’s influence isn’t far away at all. The title track is and remains a Bad Seeds classic, played at shows up through the present, a tense piano/organ beginning then accompanied by the edgy build of the band, pounding drums, stabbing feedback and keyboard parts and more. –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 Avalanche
2 Cabin Fever!
3 Well of Misery
4 From Her To Eternity
5 Saint Huck
6 Wings Off Flies
7 A Box For Black Paul
Bonus tracks
8 In The Ghetto
9 The Moon Is In The Gutter
10 From Her To Eternity (1987 version from Der Himmel Über Berlin)

1985 – The Firstborn Is Dead

The blues had long been a potent undercurrent in the Birthday Party’s music, so it wasn’t all that surprising that Nick Cave embraced the sound and feeling of rural blues on his second album with the Bad Seeds, The Firstborn Is Dead. What was startling was how well Cave and his bandmates — Barry Adamson, Mick Harvey, and Blixa Bargeld — were able to absorb and honor the influences of artists like Skip James and Charley Patton while creating a sound that was unmistakably their own. The moody obsessions of rural blues — trains, floods, imprisonment, sin, fear, and death — seemed made to order for Cave, and he was able to tap into the doomy iconography of this music with potent emotional force; on “Tupelo,” he makes a sweeping and disturbing epic of the rain-swept night when Elvis Presley was born, and “Knocking on Joe” is a tale of life on the work gang that communicates the pain of the spirit as clearly as the ache of the body. Also, the blues helped transform Cave’s music as well as his lyrics; the brutal sonic pummel of the Birthday Party here gave way to a more subtle and dynamic approach that still made effective use of dissonance and bare-wired electric guitar noise while proving the balance of loud and soft only made each side deeper and more resonant. (The stark, barely there guitar and drums of “Blind Lemon Jefferson” are as startling and malignantly fascinating as anything in the Birthday Party’s catalog.) The Firstborn Is Dead proved Nick Cave’s musical palate was significantly broader than his debut album suggested and pointed to a path (channeling the sounds and emotions of American roots music) he would return to on many of his albums that followed. –Mark Deming

Tracklist:
1 Tupelo
2 Say Goodbye To The Little Girl Tree
3 Train Long- Suffering
4 Black Crow King
5 Knockin’ On Joe
6 Wanted Man
7 Blind Lemon Jefferson
Bonus track:
8 The Six Strings That Drew Blood

1986 – Kicking Against the Pricks

Besides being noteworthy as an astonishingly good all-covers album, Kicking Against the Pricks is notable for the arrival of a new key member for the Seeds, drummer Thomas Wydler. Besides being a fine percussionist, able to perform at both the explosive and restrained levels Cave requires, Wydler also allowed Harvey to concentrate on adding guitar and keyboards live as well as in the studio, a notable bonus. Race reappears briefly to add some guitar while former Birthday Party cohorts Rowland Howard and Tracy Pew guest as well, the latter on some of his last tracks before his untimely death. The selection of songs is quite impressive, ranging from old standards like “Long Black Veil” to everything from John Lee Hooker’s “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman” and Gene Pitney’s pop aria “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart.” Matching the range of material, the Seeds are well on their way to becoming the rock/cabaret/blues showband of Cave’s dreams, able to conjure up haunting, winsome atmospheres (“Sleeping Annaleah”) as much as higher-volume takes (Roy Orbison’s “Running Scared,” the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”). The version of Leadbelly’s “Black Betty” is particularly grand, Harvey’s drumming driving the track with ominous power. This said, often holding everything back is the key, as the creepout build of “Hey Joe” demonstrates. Even more striking is how Cave’s own vocals rebut the charges that all he ever does is overdramatize everything he sings — consider the husky, purring delivery on Johnny Cash’s “The Singer.” Other winners include a masterful version of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and the stately, album-closing “The Carnival Is Over,” originally a mid-’60s hit for the Seekers. –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 Muddy Water
2 I’m Gonna Kill That Woman
3 Sleeping Annaleah
4 Long Black Veil
5 Hey Joe
6 The Singer
7 All Tomorrows Parties
8 By The Time I Get To Phoenix
9 The Hammer Song
10 Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart
11 Jesus Met The Woman At The Well
12 The Carnival is Over
Bonus tracks:
13 Black Betty – 12’’ B Side
14 Running Scared – 7” B Side

1986 – Your Funeral… My Trial

Reduced to a quartet for the most part, with Barry Adamson joining Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey and Thomas Wydler on only a couple of tracks, the Bad Seeds turn from the interpretive triumph of Kicking Against the Pricks to another strong high, the mostly-original Your Funeral…My Trial. The one cover is a sharp, unsurprisingly dramatic version of Tim Rose’s “Long Time Man.” As for the rest of the album, Trial shows the Seeds working as, again, a remarkably accomplished and varied act, ever available and ready to explore a wide range of musics distilled into Cave’s often dark, always passionate vision. Arguably Cave and company have by now so clearly established their overall style that Your Funeral…My Trial is much more a refinement of the past than anything else, but so good is their work that resistance is near impossible. If anything, the brooding power of the Seeds is more restrained than ever, suggesting destructive endings and overwhelming love without directly playing it. Songs like “Jacks Shadow” and the gentler but still melancholy moods of “Sad Waters,” detailing a riverside scene between a couple, are simply grand. The opening title track sets the mood well, Cave handling not merely vocals but Hammond organ, adding a strangely sweet air to the late-night atmosphere of the piece. “The Carny” is a definite highlight, the cracked music-box/carnival accompaniment courtesy of Harvey utterly appropriate for Cave’s tale of a circus gone horribly wrong in ways Edward Gorey would appreciate. “Hard On for Love,” as the title pretty clearly gives away, is at once sensual and blunt right down to the lyrics, Biblical references and all, as the feverish music rises in a tide of emotion. –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 Sad Waters
2 The Carny
3 Your Funeral My Trial
4 Stranger Than Kindness
5 Jack’s Shadow
6 Hard on For Love
7 She Fell Away
8 Long Time Man
Bonus track:
9 Scum

1988 – Tender Prey

With guitarist/keyboardist Roland Wolf and Cramps/Gun Club veteran Kid Congo Powers on guitar added to the ranks, along with guest appearances from old member Hugo Race, the Seeds reached 1988 with their strongest album yet, the insanely powerful, gripping Tender Prey. Rather than simply redoing what they’d already done, Nick Cave and company took their striking musical fusions to deeper and higher levels all around, with fantastic consequences. The album boldly starts out with an undisputed Cave masterpiece — “The Mercy Seat,” a chilling self-portrait of a prisoner about to be executed that compares the electric chair with the throne of God. Queasy strings from a Gini Ball-led trio and Mick Harvey’s spectral piano snake through a rising roar of electric sound — a common musical approach from many earlier Seeds songs, but never so gut-wrenching as here. Cave’s own performance is the perfect icing on the cake, commanding and powerful, excellently capturing the blend of crazed fear and righteousness in the lyrics. Matching that high point turns out to be impossible for anything else on Tender Prey, but more than enough highlights take a bow that demonstrates the album’s general quality. “Deanna” is another great blast from the Seeds, a garage rock-style rave-up that lyrically is everything Natural Born Killers tried to be, but failed at — killing sprees, Cadillacs, and carrying out the work of the Lord, however atypically. The echoing, gentle-yet-rough sonics on the Blind Willie Johnson-inspired “City of Refuge” and the gentler drama of “Sugar Sugar Sugar” also do well in keeping the energy level up. On the quieter side, Cave indulges his penchant for gloomy piano-led ballads throughout, and quite well at that, with such songs as “Watching Alice,” “Mercy,” and the end-of-the-evening singalong “New Morning.” “Sunday’s Slave” has a beautifully brooding feeling to it thanks to the combination of acoustic guitar and piano, making it a bit of a cousin of Scott Walker’s “Seventh Seal.” –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 The Mercy Seat
2 Up Jumped the Devil
3 Deanna
4 Watching Alice
5 Mercy
6 City of Refuge
7 Slowly Goes the Night
8 Sunday’s Slave
9 Sugar Sugar Sugar
10 New Morning
Bonus tracks:
11 The Mercy Seat (video version)
12 Girl at the Bottom of My Glass
13 The Mercy Seat (acoustic version)
14 City of Refuge (acoustic version)
15 Deanna (acoustic version)

1990 – The Good Son

Losing Wolf, aside from the final reprise of “Lucy,” but otherwise making no changes in the line-up, the Seeds followed up Tender Prey with the equally brilliant but generally calmer Good Son. At the time of its release there were more than a few comments that Cave had somehow softened or sold out, given how he was more intent on exploring his dark, cabaret pop stylings than his thrashy, explosive side. This not only ignored the constant examples of such quieter material all the way back to From Her to Eternity, but Cave’s own constant threads of lyrical darkness, whether in terms of romance or something all the more distressing. This said, the softly crooning group vocals and sweet strings on the opening “Foi Na Cruz” certainly would catch some off guard. The title track itself captured the overall mood of the album, a retelling of the Bible’s prodigal son story from the other son, the one who stayed at home and did what he was meant to do. The elegant, reflective “Lucy” and the staccato then sweeping “Lament” are two further high points, but the flat-out winners come dead center. “The Weeping Song,” a magnificent duet between Cave and Bargeld, starts out sounding a bit like Gene Pitney’s “Something’s Gotta Hold of My Heart,” which the Seeds covered on Pricks, before shading into its own powerful, blasted drama. “The Ship Song,” meanwhile, equals if not overtakes the Scott Walker ballads Cave so clearly is inspired by, a soaring, tearjerking declaration of intense love that’s simply amazing. –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 Foi Na Cruz
2 The Good Son
3 Sorrow’s Child
4 The Weeping Song
5 The Ship Song
6 The Hammer Song
7 Lament
8 The Witness Song
9 Lucy
Bonus tracks:
10 The Train Song
11 Cocks ‘n’ Asses
12 Helpless

1992 – Henry’s Dream

Continuing the creative roll of Tender Prey and The Good Son, Henry’s Dream showed the band in fierce and fine fettle once more. The biggest change was with the choice of producer — David Briggs, famed for his work on some of Neil Young’s strongest albums. While Cave later thought the experiment didn’t work as well as he might have hoped, Briggs does a fine enough job, perhaps not letting the group’s full intensity through but still capturing a live feel nonetheless. Cave himself offers up another series of striking, compelling lyrics again exploring love, lust and death. Here, though, some of his images are the strongest he’s yet delivered, especially with the near apocalyptic “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry,” which begins the album brilliantly as the narrator lurches through a landscape of storms, brothels and urban decay. Equally powerful, if slower and calmer, is Dream’s lead single, “Straight to You,” with Cave delivering a forceful declaration of love. It’s the near equal of “The Ship Song,” the same sense of beautiful sweep running free. Other numbers like “Brother, My Cup is Empty” and “I Had a Dream, Joe” showcase the Seeds’ peerless abilities at fusing older styles with noisy aggression and tension. The former is especially strong, almost dripping with soft then loud musical drama. The quieter numbers aren’t to be ignored, though, such as the string-laden “Christina the Astonishing” and especially “Loom of the Land.” One of Cave’s best songs ever, his portrait of a nighttime walk with a lover is Romantic with a capital R, with a sweet passion that matches the soothing performance from the Seeds, topped off with a particularly fine chorus. –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry
2 I Had a Dream, Joe
3 Straight to You
4 Brother, My Cup Is Empty
5 Christina the Astonishing
6 When I First Came to Town
7 John Finn’s Wife
8 Loom of the Land
9 Jack the Ripper
Bonus tracks:
10 Blue Bird
11 Jack the Ripper (acoustic version)
12 I Had a Dream, Joe (live)
13 The Good Son (live)
14 The Carny (live)
15 The Mercy Seat (live)
16 The Ship Song (live)

1994 – Let Love In

Keeping the same line-up from Henry’s Dream, Nick Cave and company turn in yet another winner with Let Love In. Compared to Henry’s Dream, Let Love In is something of a more produced effort — longtime Cave boardsman Tony Cohen oversees things, and from the first track, one can hear the subtle arrangements and carefully constructed performances. Love, unsurprisingly, takes center stage of the album. Besides concluding with a second part to “Do You Love Me?,” two of its stronger cuts are the (almost) title track “I Let Love In,” and “Loverman,” an even creepier depiction of lust’s throttling power so gripping that Metallica ended up covering it. On the full-on explosive front, “Jangling Jack” sounds like it wants to do nothing but destroy sound systems, strange noises and overmodulations ripping throughout the song. The Seeds can always turn in almost deceptively peaceful performances as well, of course — standouts here are “Nobody’s Baby Now,” with a particularly lovely guitar/piano line, and the brooding drama of “Ain’t Gonna Rain Anymore.” The highlight of the album, though, has little to do with love and everything to do with the group’s abilities at music noir. “Red Right Hand” depicts a nightmarish figure emerging on “the edge of town,” maybe a criminal and maybe something more demonic. Cave’s vicious lyric combines fear and black humor perfectly, while the Seeds’ performance redefines “cinematic,” a disturbing organ figure leading the subtle but crisp arrangement and Harvey’s addition of a sharp bell ratcheting up the feeling of doom and judgment. –Ned Raggett

Tracklist:
1 Do You Love Me?
2 Nobody’s Baby Now
3 Loverman
4 Jangling Jack
5 Red Right Hand
6 I Let Love In
7 Thirsty Dog
8 Ain’t Gonna Rain Anymore
9 Lay Me Low
10 Do You Love Me? (Part 2)
Bonus tracks:
11 Cassiel’s Song
12 Sail Away
13.= (I’ll Love You) Till the End of the World
14 That’s What Jazz is to Me
15 Where the Action is

1996 – Murder Ballads

In some ways, Murder Ballads is the record Nick Cave was waiting to make his entire career. Death and violence have always haunted his music, even when he wasn’t explicitly singing about the subject. On Murder Ballads, he sings about nothing but death in the most gruesome, shocking fashion. Divided between originals and covers, the record is awash in both morbid humor and sobering horror, as the Bad Seeds provide an appropriate backdrop for the carnage, alternating between blues, country, and lounge-jazz. Opening the affair is “Song for Joy,” a tale from a father who has witnessed his family’s death at the hands of serial killer. It is the most disturbing number on the record, lacking any of the gallows humor that balances out the other songs. Cave’s duets with Kylie Minogue (“Where the Wild Roses Grow”) and PJ Harvey (“Henry Lee”) are intriguing, but the true tours de force of the album are “Stagger Lee” and “O’Malley’s Bar.” Working from an obscure, vulgar variation on “Stagger Lee,” Cave increases the sordidness of the song, making Stagger an utterly irredeemable character. The original “O’Malley’s Bar” is even stronger, as he spins a bizarrely funny epic of one man’s slaughter of an entire bar. During “O’Malley’s Bar,” Cave and the Bad Seeds are at the height of their powers and the performances rank among the best they have ever recorded. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1 Song of Joy
2 Stagger Lee
3 Henry Lee
4 Lovely Creature
5 Where the Wild Roses Grow
6 The Curse of Millhaven
7 The Kindness of Strangers
8 Crow Jane
9 O’Malley’s Bar
10 Death Is Not the End
Bonus tracks:
11 The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane
12 The Willow Garden
13 King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O
14 Knoxville Girl

1997 – The Boatman’s Call

Murder Ballads brought Nick Cave’s morbidity to near-parodic levels, which makes the disarmingly frank and introspective songs of The Boatman’s Call all the more startling. A song cycle equally inspired by Cave’s failed romantic affairs and religious doubts, The Boatman’s Call captures him at his most honest and despairing — while he retains a fascination for gothic, Biblical imagery, it has little of the grand theatricality and self-conscious poetics that made his albums emotionally distant in the past. This time, there’s no posturing, either from Cave or the Bad Seeds. The music is direct, yet it has many textures, from blues to jazz, which offer a revealing and sympathetic bed for Cave’s best, most affecting songs. The Boatman’s Call is one of his finest albums and arguably the masterpiece he has been promising throughout his career. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1 Into My Arms
2 Lime Tree Arbour
3 People Ain’t No Good
4 Brompton Oratory
5 There Is A Kingdom
6 (Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?
7 Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?
8 West Country Girl
9 Black Hair
10 Idiot Prayer
11 Far From Me
12 Green Eyes
Bonus tracks:
11 Little Empty Boat
12 Right Now I’m A-Roaming
13 Black Hair (Band version)
14 Come Into My Sleep
15 Babe, I Got You Bad

2001 – No More Shall We Part

No More Shall We Part ends a four-year silence from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. A best-of was issued in 2000, but no new material has appeared since 1997’s landmark album, The Boatman’s Call. With that record Cave had finally delivered what everyone knew he was capable of: an entire album of deeply tragic and beautiful love songs without irony, sarcasm, or violent resolution. It appears that The Boatman’s Call has altered the manner in which Cave writes songs, and the Bad Seeds illustrate them. Two musical directors — the ubiquitous Mick Harvey and Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis — craft a sonic atmosphere whose textures deepen and widen Cave’s most profound and beautiful lyrics to date. The ballads have the wide, spacious, sobering ambience one has come to expect from the Bad Seeds. There is an ethereal change in sound in the up-tempo numbers, which are, for lack of better terminology, musical novellas. They plumb the depths of blues, yet contain glissando and crescendos from the orchestral music of composers such as Fartein Valen and Olivier Messiaen. There are places, such as in “Oh My Lord,” where rock & roll is evoked as a device, but this isn’t rock music. A listen to “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side,” “Hallelujah,” and the aforementioned track (the most “rock” song here) will attest that it is merely one color on a musical palette that is more expansive now than at any time in the band’s history. Also in the band’s musical treasure trove is the addition of the McGarrigle sisters on backing vocals – nowhere is their contribution more poignant than on the tenderly daunting, haunted house that is “Love Letter.” Lyrically, and as a vocalist, Cave has undergone a startling, profound metamorphosis. Gone is the angry, humorous cynic whose venom and bile touched even his lighter moments. His deep taunting ambivalence about Jesus Christ and Christianity in general is gone, vanished into a maturity that ponders spiritual things contemplatively. Humor that pokes fun “churchianity” remains, but not as a source of its inspiration. Over these 12 tracks, Cave has taken the broken heart–so openly exhibited on The Boatman’s Call–and elevated it to the place where he has learned to live with, and speak from it as both an artist and a human being. Leonard Cohen stated in the song “Anthem,” that, “there is a crack in everything/that’s where the light gets in.”No More Shall We Part is a mosaic of those cracks. If this album is about anything, it is about love’s ability to survive in the world. It is examined concretely and abstractly; to the point where it meditates on this theme even cinematically. His methodology for the listener is, even though these are intimate conversations, the effect is illustrated in widescreen. In this way, Cave touches the heart in the same way Andrei Tarkovsky’s films Stalker and The Sacrifice and Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire do. There is powerful emotion here, spiritual, psychological and romantic, without a hint of the sentimentality that would make it false. As both a singer and a songwriter, his work has been transformed into something so full of depth, color, and dimension, that there is simply no one except his mentors working on this level in popular music. In the opening moments of “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side,” a tenderly, softly sung vocal delivers: “Then she drew the curtains down/And said when will you ever learn/That what happens there beyond the glass/Is simply none of your concern/God has given you but one heart/You are not a home but the hearts of your brothers/God don’t care for your benevolence anymore/But he cares for the lack of it in others/Nor does he care for you to sit at/Windows in judgement of the world he created/While sorrows pile up around you/Ugly, useless and over-inflated/At which she turned her head away/Great tears leapin’ from her eyes/I could not wipe a smile from my face/As I sat sadly by her side.” The title track is a ballad that could have been lifted from The Boatman’s Call, except it lacks the reaching tragedy. And Cave sings in a tenor no one thought him capable of — “And all the birds will sing to your beautiful heart/Up on the bell/And no more shall we part.” The chaos of earlier Bad Seeds outings does kick up on “The Sorrowful Wife,” where violins and Blixa Bargeld’s guitars duel with Jim Sclavunos’s drums for domination of the sonic torrent. The record closes with two of Cave’s most beautiful songs, a near country gospel waltz called “Gates to the Garden” with the McGarrigles sweetening an already lovely tome to redemptive love. Finally, “Darker With the Day,” illustrated by Harvey’s striking pianistic ballad framework touched by Bill Evans’ technique, is as strikingly autobiographical as Cave has ever been, highlighting the extremes of good and evils that inform and torment the protagonist’s inner emotional life within in a single day. There is loss and the seeking of deliverance and, in a statement not so much of recognition that this is simply fate, he also acknowledges hope: “All these streets are frozen now/I come and go/Full of a longing for something I do not know.” As he calls to a lover gone seemingly forever, he comes to the conclusion that for him, redemption is in love itself, whether divine or profane; the only hope is that love, between two people or between an individual and her or his creator, depends on one’s openness to receiving it. Who can argue with him? No More Shall We Part leaves listeners in awe, full of complex emotions, and pondering the notion that they’ve been in the presence of great redemptive art–which Henry James calls, “the thing that can never be repeated.” –Thom Jurek

Tracklist:
1 As I Sat Sadly By Her Side
2 And No More Shall We Part
3 Hallelujah
4 Love Letter
5 Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow
6 God Is In The House
7 Oh My Lord
8 Sweetheart Come
9 The Sorrowful Wife
10 We Came Along This Road
11 Gates To The Garden
12 Darker With The Day
Bonus tracks:
11 Good Good Day
12 Little Janey’s Gone
13 Grief Came Riding
14 Bless His Ever Loving Heart
15 Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow (Westside Session)
16 We Came Along This Road (Westside Session)
17 God Is In The House (Westside Session)
18 And No More Shall We Part (Westside Session)

2003 – Nocturama

It is truly sad when artists with great vision and imagination, whose work is filled with power and beauty, just kind of lose it all at once. This could be the first record Nick Cave has made that feels like he is just doing it because it is his job to make records and be Nick Cave. Everything is predictable and sounds like something Cave has done before. The Bad Seeds’ edges are smoothed over by the too-slick production; Cave’s lyrics are not provocative or funny or much of anything worth hearing. “He Wants You” is a smooth and tired-sounding love song, “Still in Love” is a gothic love song with cheesy lyrics and some sickly singing, and “Wonderful Life” has a nice, slinky beat and a memorable melody that is ruined by generic lyrics. There are also a few surprises of an unpleasant nature on Nocturama: “Bring It On” sounds like alternative rock by-the-numbers; without Cave’s vocals it could be the Wallflowers. This could be the first Bad Seeds track to sport a depressingly standard guitar solo over the fade. Longtime Cave fans may need to reach for the smelling salts after hearing it. There are also a couple of songs that revisit the old storm-and-bang days of the Birthday Party and early Bad Seeds. One might say these forays into noisy, aggressive post-punk are commendable or one could say he is treading water he puked out 20 years ago. Add to that the fact that the racing tempos, jagged guitars, and shouted vocals of “Dead Man in My Bed” and the seemingly endless “Babe, I’m on Fire” break up the somnambulant mood of the rest of the record. Actually, while it may be derivative of his glorious past, “Babe, I’m on Fire” is a welcome blast of energy; he should have made it 30 minutes long instead of ten and called it his new record. Apart from that track, Cave sounds like a writer on his 15th book with nothing much left to say, nothing left to do but go through the motions, phoning his performance in with a yawn. His fans should send him a message by leaving Nocturama (his worst record title ever) to gather dust on record store and warehouse shelves. His laziness and weak effort should not be rewarded with your hard-earned cash. –Tim Sendra

Tracklist:
1 Wonderful Life
2 He Wants You
3 Right Out Of Your Hand
4 Bring It On
5 Dead Man In My Bed
6 Still In Love
7 There Is A Town
8 Rock Of Gibraltar
9 She Passed By My Window
10 Babe, Im On Fire
Bonus tracks:
11 Shoot Me Down
12 Swing Low
13 Little Ghost Song
14 Everything Must Converge
15 Nocturama

2004 – Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus

When Blixa Bargeld left Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, who would have predicted his departure would result in one of the finest offerings in the band’s catalog? Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus is a double CD or, rather, two completely different albums packaged in one very handsome box with a stylish lyric booklet and subtly colored pastel sleeves. They were recorded in a total of 16 days by producer Nick Launay (Kate Bush, Midnight Oil, Girls Against Boys, Silverchair, INXS, Virgin Prunes, et al.). Abbatoir Blues, the first disc in the set (packaged in pink, of course), is a rock & roll record. Yeah, the same guy who released the Boatman’s Call, No More Shall We Part, and Nocturama albums has turned in a pathos-drenched, volume-cranked rocker, full of crunch, punishment — and taste. Drummer Jim Sclavunos’ aggressive, propulsive kit work is the bedrock of this set. It and Mick Harvey’s storm-squall guitar playing shake things loose on “Get Ready for Love,” which opens the album. As Cave goes right for God in the refrain — “get ready for love” — in the maelstrom, a gospel choir roaring “praise Him” responds. His tense, ambivalent obsession with theology is pervasive; he mocks the Western perception of God in the heavens yet seeks the mystery of His nature. That he does so while careening through a wall of noisy rock damage is simply stunning. It leaves the listener revved up and off-center for what comes next. The chorus — members of the London Community Gospel Choir — is prevalent on both records; the Bad Seeds’ arrangement utilizes them wisely as counterpoint and mirror for Cave’s own baritone. “Cannibal’s Hymn” begins as a love song musically; it’s chocked with Cave’s dark wit and irony and ends far more aggressively while retaining its melody. The single, “Nature Boy,” finds itself on Scalvunos’ big beat. Cave and his piano use love’s irony in contrast with cheap innuendo as underlined by the choir in their best soul croon. “Let Them Bells Ring” is a most dignified and emotionally honest tribute to Johnny Cash and the world he witnessed. The Western wrangle of “There She Goes, My Beautiful World” references Morricone’s desert cowboy groove against a swirling cacophony of drums, bashing piano, and the chorus swelling on the refrain, while Cave name drops Johnny Thunders and poet Philip Larkin. The pace is fantastic; its drama and musical dynamics are pitched taut, with lulls in all the right places.
The Lyre of Orpheus, by contrast, is a much quieter, more elegant affair. It is more consciously restrained, its attention to craft and theatrical flair more prevalent. But that doesn’t make it any less satisfying. It is a bit of a shock after Abbatoir Blues, but it isn’t meant for playing immediately afterward; it is a separate listening experience. The title track tells the myth’s tale in Cave’s ironical fashion, where God eventually throws a hammer at the subject and Eurydyce threatens to shove his lyre up his nether orifice. Warren Ellis’ swampy bouzouki and Thomas Wydler’s more stylized drumming move the band in the tense, skeletal swirl where chorus and Cave meet the music in a loopy dance. But in “Breathless,” the bard of the love song emerges unfettered at the top of his poetic gift. On “Babe You Turn Me On,” he wraps a bawdy yet tender love song in a country music waltz to great effect. But on this album, along with the gentleness, is experimentation with textures and wider dimensions. The sparser sound is freer, less structured; it lets time slip through the songs rather than govern them — check the wall of Ellis’ strings married to a loping acoustic guitar on the moving “Carry Me” as an example. Cave’s nastiness and wit never remains absent for long, however, and on “O Children,” the album’s closer, it returns with this skin-crawlingly gorgeous ballad of murder and suicide. This set is an aesthetic watermark for Cave, a true high point in a long career that is ever looking forward. –Thom Jurek

Tracklist:
Abattoir Blues
1 Get Ready for Love
2 Cannibal’s Hymn
3 Hiding All Away
4 Messiah Ward
5 There She Goes, My Beautiful World
6 Nature Boy
7 Abattoir Blues
8 Let the Bells Ring
9 Fable of the Brown Ape
The Lyre of Orpheus
1 The Lyre of Orpheus
2 Breathless
3 Babe, You Turn Me On
4 Easy Money
5 Supernaturally
6 Spell
7 Carry Me
8 O Children
Bonus tracks:
9 She’s Leaving You
10 Under This Moon
11 Hiding All Away (Live at Maida Vale)
12 There She Goes, My Beautiful World (Live at Maida Vale)

2008 – Dig, Lazarus DIG!!!

Apparently, the Bad Seeds side project Grinderman injected some serious adrenaline into the equation, evidenced mightily on Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! This is the 14th album by Nick Cave and company. After the masterpiece that was Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus in 2004, Cave and Warren Ellis scored a pair of films — The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and recorded the self-titled Grinderman album with other bandmembers Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos. Grinderman was a howling, raucous, rock & roll racket of a set that sweat humorous garage rock blues and raw shambolic guttersnipe stroll that spread its nasty cheer to the listener. The return of the full-on Bad Seeds octet builds on this energy and emerges with an album that is at once snarling, darkly humorous, decadently sexual, and, if you are a religious Christian person, seemingly blasphemous. An obvious example is the title track that opens the album. As always, Cave’s lyrics are at the center. They are the focus whether he wants them to be or not, and they certainly are here. The track kicks off with a low-end, loose-limbed bass slog and snarling guitar swagger that simultaneously recall Link Wray and Johnny Thunders. Cave re-introduces the biblical character that Jesus raised from the dead as Larry. Larry gets resurrected in the 21st century. He is utterly lost as he rambles about, utterly disoriented and wondering why the hell he was woken from his dream sleep in the first place. (Think Martin Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ set in the current day with its Lazarus stumbling around half blind and lost, one foot here, one in the next world.) Larry, who no longer has a sense of who or where he is, partakes of every greasy pleasure known — sex, dope, violence — and ends up in the joint, and eventually homeless before ending up back in his hole in the ground. Cave wryly explains at the end, “poor Larry.” There are bullhorn sounds in the backdrop, sheer noise wafting in from the margins, and the band pumping itself up with every verse. Cave talks more than he sings here, he’s reciting something that feels free form but it’s rhythmically dead-on and very tightly focused.
Tracy Pew of the Birthday Party could have played the bass rumble that introduces “Today’s Lesson.” It’s all popping riff, one line played over and over as the band brings out organs, acoustic and electric guitars, Ellis playing an electric mandolin, and Cave offering the tale of a young woman who wakes from a dream with a jawbone stuck inside the waistband of her jeans like a gun, who has been repeatedly violated in her sleep by the sandman; when she wakes up all hell breaks loose in the form of a “real good time tonite.” She’s ready to party, to get while the getting’s good — you are free to interpret whatever that might be.
Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! isn’t all clamorous craziness, however. For starters, it’s not as raw as Grinderman. Nick Launay reins it in while extending the textural and dimensional reach of the Bad Seeds wonderfully rootsy yet complex and swampy sound. There are many different kinds of songs here, like the creepy crawly “Night of the Lotus Eaters” that feels like Night of the Living Dead meets Hammer studios meets the Voodoo Gods of Haiti on ‘ludes and cheap wine. It’s dark, sinister, slimy, and addictive. “Albert Goes West” suggests the Dream Syndicate at their wildest with squalling guitars. When he says “The light upon the rainy streets/Offers Many Reflections/And I won’t be held responsible/for my actions…” only to the same protagonist asks in a Concord bar “Do you wanna dance?/Do you wanna groove?” He means it. It’s not as absurd as it sounds and in the context of his character, it’s unhinged. When the band screams, crunches, and squeals out of the tuner in its music, they sweetly sing like drunken devilish doo wop boys meeting “Sha La La,” right to the fade. Only Cave could get away with lines like “Our myomixtoid kids spraddle the streets/we’ve shunned them from the greasy grind/the poor things/They look so sad & old/As they mount us from behind….” and “I go guruing down the street/young people gather round my feet/as me things-but I don’t know where to start.” All the while the band chants “doop doop doop” behind him.
In “We Call Upon the Author,” Cave has become a cross between the great 20th century poets of history and the outer edges of mental myths like Charles Olson and John Berryman who happen to play rock & roll. The latter of these writers is celebrated in the same tune for writing like “wet papier mache/and going out the “Heming-way.” This occurs a mere line after he castigates the late Charles Bukowski for being a jerk. “Hold on to Yourself” brings the swirling cacophony the Bad Seeds can summon live with Ellis playing an electric viola along with a pulsing Farfisa organ and acoustic and electric guitars atop sparse drums. It’s a sad love song that might have been a rock outtake from The Assassination of Jesse James, if Jesse were singing it in the current era: “I’m so far away from you/I’m pacing up and down my room/Does Jesus only love a man who loses?” The cinematic reach of the track is alternately heartbroken, lost, and furious. “Lie Down Here (And Be My Girl”) is feverish, nightmarish, desperate, and as elegantly ruined and unrepentant as Nikolai in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Amid the soaring guitars, a backdrop of old rock & roll chorus lines, psychedelic fuzztone leads, and that propulsive bassline and popping snare, Cave’s protagonist exhorts his beloved not to worry about the life pouring out of him, and just take in the moment as an eternal one, where all comes down and rises at once. Ellis’ moaning Gypsy violin, electric mandolin, a spooky Mick Harvey piano, and a one-two rhythm section shuffle offer another dark and hopeless love song in “Jesus of the Moon,” but its drama and punch are almost theatrical in scope. It’s dead serious, no camp here; it’s all passion, pathos, and an unwillingness to let go despite the fact of having already done so. The last line in the song is, “I say hello.” One wonders to what? The abandoned lover? Oblivion? With “More News from Nowhere,” the album closes uncharacteristically on what may seem at first to be a light moment. Musically and lyrically it walks the line between Bob Dylan’s wry, bluesy, sprawling observations on 21st century life and the light, sarcastic celebration of decadence in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.”
What it all comes down to is that Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! is a Bad Seeds record that ups the ante once again. The elegance and poetry, the drama and tension of Cave’s more poetic notions are balanced by his Sade-ian humor and social criticisms and his willingness to blend flesh and spirit as two sides of the same coin. Along with this comes a band’s sound that is incredibly evolved and unself-conscious. It’s an album where a fire breathing, rootsy, garage rock band creates a soundtrack to modern fun house life: where the stakes are high, the odds are hopelessly stacked, and there is little left to do but laugh at its dreadful irony. –Thom Jurek

Tracklist:
1 Dig Lazarus Dig
2 Today’s Lesson
3 Moonland
4 Night Of The Lotus Eaters
5 Albert Goes West
6 We Call Upon The Author
7 Hold On To Yourself
8 Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl)
9 Jesus Of The Moon
10 Midnight Man
11 More News From Nowhere
Bonus tracks:
12 Accidents Will Happen
13 Fleeting Love
14 Hey Little Firing Squad

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