Tag Archives: Nick Cave

444. Ed Kuepper – “Sings His Greatest Hits For You”

From one Antipodean punk-survivor with an enormous back catalogue but little to show in terms of chart success, to another…

Former Saint Ed Kuepper is a much more mainstream artist than kooky Knox, but his output seems to occur outside the ‘industry’ of music in Australia.

It’s hard to understand why when you listen to this 1996 collect of his best tracks from 1992-1995 (I told you he was prolific).  On a musical Venn diagram Ed sits at some intersection of the Go Betweens, Nick Cave and Dave Graney.

He shares a portion of the flair for the slightly twisted or flawed arty pop of Forster and McLellan, the atmospheric darkness of Cave’s less gothic works, and that irritating  pompous vocal styling that Graney overplays.

There are some wonderful patches of vocal pacing and songwriting on this. I’m With You‘s “fogged up car window pane” is Joplin-esque. La Di Doh is catchier than I’d like, and the opener The Way I Made You Feel is what AOR radio stations should be playing:

At times Kuepper isn’t quite the sum of his parts, and this album lacks a blow you away moment. But when The Church, The Triffids and Died Pretty are winning accolades, so should EK.

File under: Not as intriguing as Winnie, or as refreshing as the beer

425. Grinderman – “Grinderman”

Before we launch into the letter K, I need to catch you up on some recent purchases from the land of A-J.

Album cover CD grinderman debut Nick Cave review no pussy bluesDespite my pretty extensive Nick Cave collection, I was slow to jump on the Grinderman side-project. It was only when the band’s second album came out last month that I picked this up going cheap at JB HiFi. And was just the sort of raw rock I’d been looking for.

Over the years, I’ve found great joy in the moments when Nick and his highly talented buddies have reminded us that they can let it all hang out, that there doesn’t need to be too much structure, control or pretence to their sonic adventures.  The sheer number of band members, and instruments (especially that piano) have made that a very tough balancing act in Bad Seed land.

The Grinderman set-up with its stripped line-up, and Nick on guitar, allows a lot more free-form, balls out, garage rock.  It’s all rather rough and ready, but with that trademark Cave (and maybe Warren Ellis’ influence) tongue in cheek.

The song-writing (and tone) here has me thinking that Tex Perkins just realised that Nick could be him without trying very hard at all. Indeed, Tex has never delivered a song this good (and this ain’t the best track on the album):

File under: No pretence blues

278. Eddy Current Suppression Ring – “Primary Colours”

After yesterday’s dullness, it was certainly refreshing to embrace the  energy and oomph of today’s CD.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring Cover Primary Colours Colors CDInstead of cardigan-wearing artiness, here is some unpretentious garage punk of the highest order. 

There is a fine tradition in Australia of Stooges-like rock’n’roll.  My personal favourite has always been Radio Birdman, but others swear by The Saints and even Nick Cave‘s early incarnations.

The trio of Current lads plus Brendan Suppression (I think these might not be the names their parents gave them) deliver exactly what you’d hope. Trebly guitar, pounding drums and slurry bass, plus vocals that sound like that Iggy doing a Cosmic Psychos impression.

The songs come across wonderfully naive and ad-libbed (and reportedly several were).  The audio mix is garagey without being tinny. 

This album got a lot of people excited when it was released.  It got me excited on my walk to work this (Monday) morning and kept me going all morning. I felt transplanted back to a much simpler time, when Colour Television was worth singing about and when wearing a black glove on stage made you a popstar:

File under: Smell the glove

184. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Henry’s Dream”

In a case for any buddy Sherlocks out there, this particular album was unexpectedly absent from my CD collection back when I was deeply immersed in Cave reviews. 

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Henry's DreamOn the urging of a regular reader (Unrelenting Tedium, are you still out there?), I sought a replacement copy and have been relishing each listen ever since.

I am seriously torn in my ranking of Cave opuses.  Three of his albums currently occupy my Top 20, with Let Love In out in front.

My strongest basis for favouring said album was its astoundingly strong opening trio of tracks.  But, then, this CD has an even more impressive triptych. 

The epic Papa Won’t Leave You Henry is captivating with swirling, rousing choruses.  The organ and virtual call-and-response of I Had a Dream Joemaintains the momentum, while the lusciousness of the softer Straight to You presages his later work on Boatman’s Call.  

What lifts this album above its esteemed peers is that the quality never drops.  There isn’t a track on this release which would be out of place on a Bad Seeds best of. The album isn’t quite as wild or aggressive as his live work of the time or Tender Prey, but it is wonderfully balanced and engaging.  

File under: A dream weaver

180. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Tender Prey”

After my fortnight of Cave listening a month or two back, I promised to pick up a couple of the albums I was missing from his back catalogue.

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Tender PreyI didn’t exactly stretch myself, stepping back one spot to acquire this the fifth album in the Bad Seeds catalogue.

This was very much the breakout release for the band, opening with the quintessential Cave composition (and performance) the astoundingly good Mercy Seat. The song is so good that my version of the CD has two versions of it!

The album doesn’t rest on those laurels, but rather follows up with the rousing Deanna and a few other tunes I’d been unfamiliar with until, most notably Up Jumped the Devil.  This rollicking number is like some bastard lovechild of The Pogues and Tom Waits, and is Cave and buddies at their fun-loving best.

The album stays consistent throughout.  Nick is in his typically verbose and literary mood, with the band exploring their more raucous and dangerous side.

As such, this is a wonderful addition to my rather shelf-greedy Cave collection. Perhaps I might even delve even further in to his past.

File under: Love me tender

151. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Abattoir Blues & The Lyre of Orpheus”

There was a definite downward slide in quality over the last couple of Cave releases.  This album was pretty much make or break for me.

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Abattoir Blues & The Lyre of OrpheusAudaciously (or perhaps cautiously) Cave and his gang of conspirators choose to roll the dice twice by releasing a double album.

Double albums typically send up warning flags as they are the domain of the self-indulgent.  Thankfully this combo doesn’t venture too far in that direction, although there are a few tracks that would benefit from exile off to the land of b-sides.

Most importantly these CDs mark the return of the cocky, energetic, edgy Cave that produced the mid-1990s gems.  The songs have heavier rhythms and greater diversity of sounds. The piano is much less prominent. The use of female backing vocals and whopping riffs on Hiding All Away, for example, herald new confidence for the band, and fiddle fiend Warren Ellis finally makes his mark across multiple tracks.

Put simply there is just more good stuff versus dross.  There’s also supposedly some sort of Greek myth thread running through the second disk, but beyond the opener I’m missing it.

Irrespective, I’m just happy Cave refound his mojo…

File under: The knackery trip is cancelled

150. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Nocturama”

I know I committed to around 200 words per review, but I feel like writing “see last review” on this one (or just “ditto”).

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds NocturamaAfter giving this album several listens, I can find little positive or constructive to say.

It’s just a bleh effort. The songwriting is uninspired. The musicianship is workmanlike (as an aside I’m no sure that phrase should be pejorative, but it is). There are no top notch songs.

At times the album even lacks Cave-ness. For example, the considerable portions of the pedestrian Bring it On could be any number of cookie-cutter adult-rockers (especially the chorus). At times, I had to convince myself it wasn’t Tex Perkins…

The aforementioned “several listens” reflected my relative unfamiliarity with this recording. I clearly wasn’t grabbed by this post-purchase. I’m still not.

The only fun aspect of this is the very self-indulgent almost fifteen minute closer Babe I’m on Fire, on which Nick plays out the stack-the-rhymes game to its ultimate end. My special edition of the album includes a DVD with the video for said song, which is ain’t too bad (and demonstrative of Cave’s underestimated sense of humour). Here it is (in two parts):

File under: Snooze-a-rama

149. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “No More Shall We Part”

The four year gap between Cave’s previous album and this release was reportedly (at least partly) a result of Cave finally extracting himself from alcohol and heroin dependency. As I have said somewhere else on here, the result is not a strong endorsement of sobriety.

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds No More Shall We PartThe pull of Cave and his buddies (for me) has always been the sense of danger and urgency in the music, the snide nature of the lyrics and the conspiratorial delivery thereof. This album is sadly lacking on these fronts.

It is a pretty straightforward outing. Very calm/beautiful backing with Cave shifting back and forth between borderline spoken-word and lounge-singer style delivery. It is all far to restrained and domestic. Too often it is Cave-by-numbers songwriting too. The frequency of the “pile the increasingly ridiculous rhymes high” approach is much higher than normal.

The album is far from a shocker however. The mid-album sequence of Love Letter, Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow, and the standout track God is the House are well worth it. The latter sees Cave at his humorous best, and spitting the couplets for good rather than evil.

File under: Parting is increasingly possible

147. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “The Boatman’s Call”

Back when Master Cave was burgling houses, trashing Melbourne punk venues and injecting any shit he could get hold of into his veins, I don’t think too many folk would have thought he’d be penning tunes appropriate for weddings and chickflicks.

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds The Boatman's CallYet, that is exactly what pops up on this oh-so-chilled Cave and Co effort. Having vented his murderous tendencies on the last release, this time he explores his softer side.

This is a much-played CD in my collection. In the spirit of over-sharing in the blogosphere, I must confess this is a post-coital fave. This is the album where Cave sings most smoothly, and where the topic seems to be love.

The journey of the album is intriguing. He starts out enamoured (Into My Arms), but quickly People Ain’t No Good and love has been frustrated and faded (Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere). He professes a serious crush on future reviewee Polly Harvey across three songs. That’s lovestruck teenager levels of output.

The beauty here rests in the pared-backness of the orchestration. Cave’s voice is rarely accompanied by more than strings (often ensconced in a piano). The production levels are fantastic… making it best heard horizontal.

File under: Answer that call

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