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  • Nick Cave Online - ALBUM REVIEW: Murder Ballads [1996] by Johnny Walker
    incongruity of the backing music here take us into the OTT realm of mordant humour Still as with Cohen at his best Cave doesn t lose sight of serious moral and ethical questions as smack in the midst of his carnage the narrator debates the question of freewill I have no freewill I cried If I have no freewill how can I be morally culpable The conclusion where the killer is shown to be something far less than a anti hero of any sort is again both intensely funny and thought provoking Rivaling O Malley s Bar in the gallows humour sweepstakes is The Curse of Millhaven where Cave notoriously antipathetic to the psychobabble of North American therapy culture unleashes a murderous narrator a woman this time tellingly who is unequivocally an unrepentantly evil mocking the efforts of the social engineers who believe she might be cured of her bloodlust As all people young old and in between have to die eventually anyway why not help them along she reasons admitting in aside that she s a natural monster who s beyond all attempts at rehabilitation In fact such efforts merely provide great amusement for our Lottie whose only real regret is that she didn t have time to inflict still more carnage before she was caught It s Rorschach and Prozac and everything is groovy sings an gleefully unhinged sounding Cave effortlessly taking on a persona of the opposite gender Again along with the laughs Cave manages to take on some serious issues here which strike at the heart of contemporary Western culture not only nature vs nurture but also the notion promulgated by many recent PC theorists which posit the stereotypes of the male as rapacious murderer and the female as pure and innocent victim For Cave the darkness which leads to murder is a darkness which lies within us all regardless of gender Murder Ballads however doesn t always tread the line between sardonic and serious the album s opener Song of Joy being a case in point This one ranks up there with The Mercy Seat as one of Cave s most chilling excursions into the ethical void of a killer s mind as a man formerly a doctor but now a vagabond relates the tale of his wife and daughters murders gradually revealing the very probable truth about himself in the process This is followed up by a return to black humour with the ace retelling of the Stagger Lee myth the Bad Seeds in typically sympathetic versatile form thoroughout providing a loping but razor sharp r b riff over which Cave relates an X rated tale of murderous machismo not likely to be receiving heavy airplay anytime soon Completing a triple play is the high melodrama of Henry Lee a duet with Cave s female doppleganger PJ Harvey a match made in well not heaven surely in which the traditional ballad receives an arrangement owing much to Cohen s Joan of Arc PJ s

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  • Nick Cave Online - BOOK REVIEW: The Birthday Party & Other Epic Adventures [1996] by Jayne Margetts
    lived up to and far surpassed any expectations one could have when faced with the potential wrath and passion of Melbourne s cult god Cave enjoyed the thrill of the chase He was elusive without descending into the domains of opaqueness He was fiery volatile and one of the most magnetic and beguiling personalities to spar and share coffee with But what Cave seemed to fear above all was the ability for any one person to burrow beneath his carefully constructed suit of armour to what lay beneath An there was an unspoken decree that should the conversation become too personal he would lash out and live up to his reputation of fire and brimstone retaliation Melbourne home to Cave and The Birthday Party has an underlying essence of darkness both in its nooks and open expanses of land The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda even on a quiet weekday evening has the same feral and sleazy residue from its sticky carpets peeling archways battered stages and PA units through to its walls adorned by posters announcing weekend gigs of the likes of Tex Perkins The sniff and legacy of The Birthday Party is felt all round and to Brokenmouth s credit he has captured that very ambience and motivation that spurned The Birthday Party onwards towards not only the history books but as purveyors of a sound that has been imitated and long regarded as the quintessential Melbourne Sound Interviewing the survivors guitarists Mick Harvey and Rowland Howard drummer Phil Calvert close friends of their late bass player Tracy Pew and producer Tony Cohen Brokenmouth has assembled a critical and meticulous homage to and diary of the rise and fall of The Birthday Party through to the genesis and realisation of The Bad Seeds The picture that emerges is one of the archetypal and oft sprouted sex drugs and rock n roll but it also the story of an enigmatic frontman and the struggles between personalities creative recognition and the self destructive purging that they all succumbed to on a regular basis while constructing a snapshot of the cultural ramifications and the sights smells and sounds of the late 70s through to today The chronicle begins in Melbourne 1976 and a chapter titled Out After School in which Brokenmouth via Calvert Tracy Pew s mother Nancy Mick Harvey Keith Glass Dave Graney and fans construct an insight into the events that would shape The Boys Next Door as a band and their effect on the live scene amid the heady reign of The Saints and Radio Birdman Seen through the eyes of a fan Brokenmouth extracts a sense of the humble origins of The Boys Next Door Nick was so dynamic always striking a pose He wore eyeliner which made his body look more emaciated and scarecrow like than ever nattily dressed in a suit and white shirt and no tie He s look elevated helpless enraged and finally alien by stages By March 1980 The Boys Next Door

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  • Nick Cave Online - BOOK REVIEW: Bad Seed [1996] by by Johnny Walker (Addicted To Noise)
    of an Anglican priest who keeps his head as all about him are losing theirs mainly due to their copious smack ingestion both emerge in many ways as spiritual equals to Cave within the basically democratic confines of the de facto manager less group Says long time fan and mascot Bingo Most bands are controlled by a manipulator but no one had any control over The Birthday Party They were complete nonconformists and individualists And of course there was the music a mutant amalgam of The Stooges The New York Dolls and the damaged psycho art blues of Captain Beefheart a key influence often semi denied by the band Johnston doesn t do enough to pin them down on this topic once and for all a flaw which appears throughout the book all of this fuelled by the liberating spirit of punk Problems arise however when the band arrives in London in February of 1980 and find in punk s wake not freedom and acceptance but what Johnston depicts as a politically correct atmosphere shaded by a shallow neo Marxist philosophy Suddenly the ethos of sex drugs and rock n roll that The Birthday Party was ready and willing to live out to its ultimate death limit was seen as uncool or rockist the all important buzz word of the period This was the proverbial red flag being waved and Cave and company respond with some of the grimiest most cacophonous rock and roll ever recorded from the all time scaghead death trip classic Junkyard to what both Harvey and lead guitarist Rowland S Howard both rate as the band s musical high water mark The Bad Seed EP not to mention chaotic live performances which rate with the heyday of The Stooges for sheer confrontational audience baiting and public self immolation Junkyard and the whole rock n roll monster thing which we had put forth came out of control not just to the press but also in our personal lives recalls Roland S Howard as The Birthday Party finally splinter having reached the limits of mental and physical exhaustion Yet freed from the inevitable constrictions of a group situation Cave not only doesn t disintegrate but is able to rapidly accelerate his artistic development as a solo artist and as the leader of the aptly named Nick Cave The Bad Seeds all of this despite an ever increasing heroin habit Work and drug consumption are usually seen to be diametrically opposed but Johnston in a strong bit of analysis sees them as being related at least in Cave s world the singer s deep compulsion to work he explains was rooted in his fear that if he stopped he would become just another ordinary person that his work elevated him from the ordinary to the extraordinary his writing and drugs insulated him from the outside world Perhaps the most blackly comical portrayal of this odd combination of muses is Johnston s image of a smacked out Cave sitting on

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  • Nick Cave Online - BOOK REVIEW: Bad Seed [1996] by David Cavanagh (Q)
    goth junkie etc but in the period 1981 95 no stronger body of work exists not Morrissey not R E M Recording first with The Birthday Party then since 1984 with The Bad Seeds Cave s words and music have been compelling unusual and vivid yet his life even to his fans has been somewhat mysterious Australia big blues fan Berlin um Prompt drugs drugs Although unauthorised by Cave himself Ian Johnston s book has his grudging support Several Birthday Party and Bad Seeds members offer quotes and reminiscences including the very droll Mick Harvey Cave s musical henchman for two decades along with producers friends and contemporaries Indeed Johnston s own brother James although not qouted here was himself briefly a member of The Bad Seeds The gripping and well written biography fills in many gaps relating to Cave s childhood work and lifestyle A cynical extremely bright young Australian Cave arrived in London in 1980 with the outrageous surrealist confrontational Birthday Party detesting the band s appalling living conditions and vociferously opposing the UK s feeble post New Wave music scene Accepted by intrigued fans and critics as The Genuine Article he became semi legendary a crazed violent

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