The music of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (part 5 of 5)

Album: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2CD) (2004)
The double-album was well-received by critics. The mellower songs I enjoyed. However several of the tracks I find myself skipping over on my second run through.  I suppose a double album was always going to be a bit inconsistent. Clocking in at 82 minutes, his longest release to date.
“O Children”, was featured in 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Favorite tracks:
Messiah Ward
O Children
Nature Boy
Easy Money

Favorite lyrics:
“Yeah, praise Him a little bit more
Praise Him till you’ve forgotten
what you’re praising Him for”

“You searched through all my poets
From Sappho through to Auden
I saw the book fall from your hands
As you slowly died of boredom
I had been there, dear,
but I was not there anymore
I had been there, now I’m hiding all way”

“As the trees bend down their branches
And touch you with their fingertips”

“The moon is locked away”
“But they’ve ordered the moon not to shine”

“I was just a boy when I sat down
To watch the news on TV
I saw some ordinary slaughter
I saw some routine atrocity
My father said, don’t look away
You got to be strong, you got to be bold, now
He said, that in the end it is beauty
That is going to save the world, now”

Album: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Again strong lyrics, but very loud. Not a fan of the album.

Album: Push The Sky Away (2013)
His most recent album. The lyrics per usual are well-written, and I even got my parents into this release. Gone is the rockier sound of earlier recordings, and it feels more accessible to a wider audience than his darker albums. The quieter approach reminds me of The Boatman’s Call from the 90s, which I also love.
Favorite tracks:
Jubilee Street
Push The Sky Away
We No Who U R

Any thoughts on the music? Have you listened to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds? Or are you new to the band as I am? As always, comments are welcome

The music of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (part 4 of 5)

Album: The Boatman’s Call (1997)
A few lesser tracks on the album, but also several of my all-time favorites by Cave. The album, which is entirely piano-based and a departure from the band’s post-punk catalogue, remains one of the most critically acclaimed releases of Nick Cave’s career. Many of the lyrics seem to reflect on Cave’s personal relationships and spiritual yearnings at the time of writing. Some songs are thought to be directed at either the mother of Cave’s oldest son Luke, Viviane Carneiro (in “Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?”) or PJ Harvey, with whom he had a brief relationship around that time (as referenced in “West Country Girl”, “Black Hair” and “Green Eyes”).

Favorite tracks:
Into My Arms
(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?
Brompton Oratory
People Ain’t No Good
Lime Tree Arbour
Far From Me

Favorite lyric:
“The sun would stream on the sheets
Awoken by the morning bird
We’d buy the Sunday newspapers
And never read a single word”
Favorite lyric from People Ain’t No Good:
“The winter slammed us like a fist
The windows rattling in the gales
To which she drew the curtains
Made out of her wedding veils”

Album: No More Shall We Part (2001)
While a few tracks go on a bit too long, the album showcases the virtuoso talents of the Bad Seeds, with elaborate instrumental sections on nearly every track. Also, Cave’s lyrics are less obscure than usual, and he sings in a wider vocal range than he had previously, reaching alto on several tracks.
Favorite tracks: 
Favorite lyric:
“The burdens that you carry now
Are not of your creation
So let’s not weep for their evil deeds
But for their lack of imagination
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”
Album: Nocturama (2008)
The lyrics are of the usual high quality, yet the album lacks memorable melodies. Probably among Cave’s weakest. Even the album artwork is not the best.

Favorite lyrics:
“Under the bridge and into your dreams he soars
While you lie alone in that idea-free sleep of yours
That you’ve been sleeping now for years”

“She sat in a wicker chair, her eyes they were downcast
She breathed in the future, by breathing out the past”

“The cops are hanging around the house
The cars outside look like they’ve got the blues
The moon don’t know if it’s day or night”

Any thoughts on the music? Have you listened to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds? Or are you new to the band as I am? As always, comments are welcome. Part 5 of 5 coming soon.

The music of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (part 3 of 5)

Album: Henry’s Dream (1992)
The album is considered by some to have a vague “concept”, i.e. song narratives overlapping and/or sharing characters. On first listen I’m not as passionate about the record as his fans seem to be. A few of the songs are just too intense for my taste, though I have a feeling the album will grow on me over time.

Favorite tracks:
I had a Dream, Joe
Straight To You
Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry

Favorite lyrics:
Well, the moon it looked exhausted
 Like something you should pity
 Spent an age-spotted
 Above the sizzling wires of the city
 Well, it reminded me of her face
 Her bleached and hungry eyes

Album: Let Love In (1994)
While not as well-known as 1996’s Murder Ballads, I feel  Let Love In (1994) works better as a full album, with more variety.

Favorite tracks:
Red Right Hand  (Subsequently included on the X-Files compilation Songs in the Key of X (1996). A remix was used on Scream 2 soundtrack)

Nobody’s Baby Now
I Let Love In
Do You Love Me?
Do You Love Me? (Part 2)

Favorite lyrics, from I Let Love In:
“Despair and Deception, Love’s ugly little twins
Came a-knocking on my door, I let them in
Darling, you’re the punishment for all of my former sins”

Album: Murder Ballads (1996)
As its title suggests, the album consists of new and traditional murder ballads, a genre of songs that relays the details (and often consequences) of crimes of passion. “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” a duet featuring Cave singing with Kylie Minogue, was a hit single and received two ARIA Awards in 1996. Murder Ballads was the band’s biggest commercial success to date, most likely helped by the unexpected repeated airplay of the “Where the Wild Roses Grow” video on MTV. MTV even nominated Cave for their “best male artist” award of that year, though this nomination was later withdrawn at Cave’s request. Entertainment Weekly rated the album an A and warned it was “Not for the squeamish, this is the rare pop record that resonates with the weight of the ages,”

Thoughts: Stagger Lee could be some of the most vulgar lyrics of his career. I love 2-3 songs from the album(see below), but overall I find the LP a bit impersonal and disconnected from reality. Granted the tribute to old-fashioned storytelling was the concept, and Nick Cave’s lyrics are well-written, but I don’t feel much about it, and I wouldn’t listen to the album often. For me, slightly repetitive that all the songs are about death and murderers. Perhaps as with Henry’s Dream (1992) repeat listens will win me over.
Fun trivia: The death count on the entire album comes to 65, or a mean average (rounding) of 6.5 deaths per song.

Favorite tracks:
Where the Wild Roses Grow (featuring Kylie Minogue)
Henry Lee (featuring PJ Harvey)
The Kindness Of Strangers

Favorite lyrics:
“And I’ve been known to be quite handsome. In a certain angle and in a certain light”

Any thoughts on the music? Have you listened to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds? Or are you new to the band as I am? As always, comments are welcome. Part 4 of 5 coming soon.

The music of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (part 2 of 5)

Album: Your Funeral… My Trial (1986)
While I don’t love this record, the lyrics deserve respect, and read like poetry. The weirdest tracks are Scum (the single) and Stranger than Kindness, where he sings about masturbation, among other things.

Favorite tracks:
The Carny
Your Funeral My Trial

Favorite lyrics from Jack’s Shadow:
And the bulb that burned above him
Did shine both day and night

Jack wept and kissed his shadow
Spat from their dirty dungeons
Into a fully different din

Album: Tender Prey (1988)
Opens with frontman Nick Cave’s signature song, “The Mercy Seat”, which deals with a man facing death by the electric chair, and would later be covered by Johnny Cash.
The album was listed in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums, together with Cave’s 1997 album The Boatman’s Call.

Favorite tracks:
The Mercy Seat
Up Jumped The Devil

Favorite lyric, from Slowly Goes The Night:
The nights, they are so long now
 I can’t remember it being light
 Call it sleep, call it death, call it what you like
 But only sleep, dear
 Only sleep brings you back to life yeah

Album: The Good Son (1990)
After an album as dark and intense as Tender Prey, some fans were disappointed to hear a relaxed and loving Nick Cave on this record. The change of mood was due in great deal to Nick Cave falling in love with Brazilian journalist Viviane Carneiro, and an apparently salutary spell in rehab which purged the despair and squalor of the previous two albums. However, today, most fans consider 1990’s The Good Son as a classic that was unfairly judged at the time.

More accessible and mainstream than the five 80s records. Additional care seems to have been given to memorable melodies, piano, and instrumentation, which is more pronounced than the last couple of albums. On the downside, the lyrics maybe are a bit more repetitive than the 80s, and some of the tracks are overly sentimental, especially the closing track Lucy.

Favorite tracks:
Foi Na Cruz
The Good Son

Any thoughts on the music? Have you listened to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds? Or are you new to the band as I am? As always, comments are welcome. Part 3 of 5 coming soon.

The music of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (part 1 of 5)

Having loved his latest album Push the Sky Away (2013), I decided last year to take a look at Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ 14 previous studio albums. I also have plans to read his biography, even though he enigmatically claims that it’s not the truth in trailer for documentary 20,000 Days on Earth (2014).
I’m not a fan of his angry, shouty songs, even though I sometimes get a kick out of them.  My favorites are the mellower tracks with memorable melodies. Cave is a fantastic lyricist and has a wonderful vocabulary, his collection of songs are worth reading even without any music, and at times read like short stories. So let’s get started:

Album: From Her to Eternity (1984) 
Nick Cave was a member of the band Birthday Party (1978-1983), but they broke up. The band adopted the “Bad Seeds” name, in reference to the final Birthday Party release, The Bad Seed EP.
”Well of Misery” is with the backing vocals a stand-out. However the sound on most of the tracks is so gloomy, raw, angry and jarring that I wouldn’t listen to the album often. Even if it is an act, and partly ironic, honestly, I was a bit scared of this man, was that the point of it? The mellower single, In The Ghetto, is another highlight.
The band is seen playing a live performance of the title track From Her to Eternity in Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire (1987)
The title is a pun on the book/movie From Here to Eternity (1953).
Favorite tracks:
In The Ghetto
From Her to Eternity
Well of Misery

Album: The Firstborn Is Dead (1985)
The album’s name is a reference to Jesse Garon Presley, the stillborn identical twin of Elvis Presley. 
Continues the angry rock approach of their 1984 album. The single Tupelo chronicles the Tupelo Tornado of 1936.
Favorite tracks:

Album: Kicking Against the Pricks (1986)
A collection of cover versions. “The Singer” is the single. The album title refers to a passage from the King James Version of the Bible (Acts 9:5 and 26:14), the second of which reads: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (though the reference to “kick against the pricks” (or “goads”) is omitted in many modern versions of the Bible). The phrase refers to the futility of an ox kicking in irritation at the sharpened wooden rod, called a prick or goad, used by his driver when tilling soil.

Favorite tracks:
Muddy Water (Phil Rosenthal cover) (I like the vocal performance)
The Singer (Johnny Cash & Charlie Daniels cover. Originally called the Folk Singer)
Sleeping Analeah (Mickey Newbury & Dan Folger cover)
By The Time I Get To Phoenix (Jimmy Webb cover) (Strong vocal performance)

Favorite lyric, from “The Singer”:
All the truths I tried to tell you
Were as distant to you as the moon
Born 200 years too late
And 200 years too soon

Have you listened to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds? Or are you new to the band as I am? As always, comments are welcome. Part 2 of 5 coming soon.