146. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Murder Ballads”

I’ve spent the past week and a bit working through Cormac McCarthy’s 1985 novel Blood Meridian, a nihilistic chronicle of a life of senseless, unthinking killing. It was a gruelling and thoroughly depressing read.

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Murder BalladsIn contrast, this album with a deathtoll of 64 is a relative summer stroll through the countryside.

This is Nick Cave’s best-selling album, yet is much more like a work of literature or film-making than it is plain-old songwriting. This is Tarantino in song, with frame-by-frame blood splatter, and poetry-quoting slayers.

One of the big pulls for consumers was his collaboration with fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue. A concert-going highlight for me was seeing said poppett join the Bad Seeds on stage at a Big Day Out, and some lass in my vicinity screaming “get off the stage you fat mole!!”…perhaps you had to be there…

The work here is highly entertaining and inventive, although musically fairly sparse. The various tales warrant close attention, as the imagery and imagination are inspired. Cave’s take on Stagger Lee is brutal, and The Curse of Millhaven has a ‘heroine’ for the ages. And for sheer perverse self-indulgence the 14 minute long, slow-mo slaughter O’Malley’s Bar is very hard to beat.

File under: Gangsta rap for the well-read

One response to “146. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Murder Ballads”

  1. i bought this right out of high school. the attraction to me was the duets with kylie and PJ, and they are the highlights. i had just finished my gangsta-rap days but i remember still being astonished at how vulgar stagger lee was.

    a good album that i have pretty much forgotten- other than stagger and the duets.

    (incidentally, nick and this american boy now live in the same town in the UK. i guess he is very tall!)

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