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.

2014 Blind Spot series: Hard Boiled (1992)

Entertaining Hong Kong action film, considered among director John Woo’s best films. Famous for the choreography with its slow-motion gun battles, sometimes labelled "bullet ballet" or "Gun Fu"(which combines the words gun and kung fu). Essentially highly stylized gunfights. Woo was a pioneer of this style and his film A Better Tomorrow (1986) was the first example of Gun Fu. The film launched the "heroic bloodshed" genre in Hong Kong, and Gun Fu action sequences became a regular feature in many of the subsequent films. The Wild Bunch (1969) directed by Sam Peckinpah was an even earlier example of slow-motion screen violence, only that was a western.
In Hard Boiled (1992), we see a guy jump over a motorbike in slow-mo, and rolling along a hospital bed while shooting.
A film you could watch without subtitles, because the story more often than not is told through visuals.
However it’s not just an actioner, there’s an emotional journey for the main characters.
Hard Boiled was John Woo's last Hong Kong film before his transition to Hollywood. After making films that glamorized gangsters (and receiving criticism for doing so), Woo wanted to make a Dirty Harry styled film to glamorize the police. Woo was inspired by a police officer who was a strong-willed and tough member of the police force, as well as being an avid drummer. This led to Woo having Tequila's (Chow Yun-fat) character be a musician as well as a cop.
The introduction of Tony (Tony Leung) character was memorable, the scene in the red sports car. Tony is shown as living alone and detached from others. Woo stated that this was influenced by Alain Delon's character in the French crime film Le Samouraï.
John Woo actually has a small supporting role as a character named Woo, which surprised me.
The stylized violence is not for everyone, the body count is up there. An accident occurred while filming the hospital sequence. Real glass was used and pieces of it flew toward Tony Leung and got into his eyes. Leung was sent to the hospital and after a week's rest, he returned to the set.
All the characters in Hard Boiled had their voices dubbed by their own actors in order to save money. Woo stated this was convenient as he did not have to worry about setting up boom mics and other sound elements.
As another reviewers wrote, I dread to think how many people were hospitalised during the making of the film.
At the 12th Hong Kong Film Awards, David Wu and John Woo won the award for "Best Film Editing". Tony Leung was nominated for "Best Supporting Male Actor", but lost out.
Favorite quote: It’s what you’ve got, and not how you made it, alright?

Rating 8/10

Agree or disagree? Have you seen Hard Boiled or other John Woo films? Are you a fan of his style? 

Top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs

The last few weeks I've been listening to all his studio albums. Some of them multiple times. I don't think I'll ever be a huge fan of the albums, which I feel have quite a lot of filler tracks, but I do love most of his best known songs. My favorite of his records is 1987's Tunnel of Love.

1. Dancing in the Dark (From 1984’s Born in the U.S.A.)
2. State Trooper (Trentemøller Mix) (Originally from 1982’s Nebraska)
3. The River (From 1980's The River)
4. Valentine's Day (From 1987's Tunnel of Love)
5. The Wrestler (From 2008's The Wrestler soundtrack)
6. Atlantic City (From 1982's Nebraska)
7. Jungleland (From 1975's Born To Run)
8. Tougher Than The Rest  (From 1987's Tunnel of Love)
9. We Take Care Of Our Own (From 2012's Wrecking Ball)
10. Devil's Arcade (From 2007's Magic)

Just missed out:
Born to Run (From 1975's Born To Run)
Badlands (From 1978's Darkness on the Edge of Town)
The Promised Land (From 1978's Darkness on the Edge of Town)
Hungry Heart (From 1980's The River)
Point Blank (From 1980's The River)
Nebraska (From 1982's Nebraska)
Born in the U.S.A. (From 1984’s Born in the U.S.A.)
Downbound Train (From 1984’s Born in the U.S.A.)
I'm on Fire (From 1984’s Born in the U.S.A.)
Brilliant Disguise (From 1987's Tunnel of Love)
Walk Like A Man (From 1987's Tunnel of Love)
Tunnel of Love (From 1987's Tunnel of Love)
Two Faces  (From 1987's Tunnel of Love)
Streets of Philadelphia (From 1993's Philadelphia soundtrack)
Missing (From 1995's The Crossing Guard soundtrack)
The Ghost of Tom Joad (From 1995's The Ghost of Tom Joad)
Secret Garden (From 1996's Jerry Maguire soundtrack)
The Fuse (From 2002's 25th Hour soundtrack)
The Promise (From 2010's The Promise compilation album)
American Skin [41 Shots] (From 2014's High Hopes)

Above are my personal favorites.  Feel free to share your own in the comments, or tell me what I overlooked

2014 summer playlist

I'm taking a break from the blogosphere for most of July, just so you know! In the meantime, enjoy this summer playlist I put together. There are many ways of doing such a list, I decided to only go with new music:

Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea) by Ariana Grande  (Has been called the song of the summer. hmm, is it?)

Bullit by Watermät

Do It Again by Röyksopp & Robyn

Boom Clap by Charli XCX (From The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack)

Gimme Something Good by Ryan Adams

Feels Like Summer by Panama Wedding

Hey Now (Tensnake Remix) by London Grammar

Salad Days by Mac Demarco

You're Mine (Eternal) by Mariah Carey

Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett

Jealous (I Ain't With It) by Chromeo

Get Her Back by Robin Thicke (Maybe will grow on me over the summer? Not as good as his 2013 hit Blurred Lines)

Forgiveness by St. Lucia

NRG by Duck Sauce (From 22 Jump Street soundtrack)
Duck Sauce previously released the super catchy Barbra Streisand

Summer Noon by Tweedy

Which music are you listening to during summer? Any of these? Or something else that caught your attention?


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