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.


  1. I haven't been very familiar with some of the early stuff of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in the early 80s as I consider myself more of a casual fan than a big fan though I love the hell out of his last 2 albums. The guy is a fucking genius.

    1. @thevoid99: Push The Sky Away (2013) is a great record to chill to, and so different to Cave’s 80s albums which are mostly angry and intense. I love the singles from that decade though. I’m curious about The Birthday Party stuff he did between 1978-1983.

  2. Wow, 14 albums? I didn't realize he had so many. I'm only familiar with two of them -- Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and Murder Ballads -- both of which I really like (especially the former). Some of his Grinderman stuff is really good, too.

  3. Eric @ The Warning Sign: He's been a part of the music industry longer than I've been alive :)
    I didn't love Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! as much as you did. Murder Ballads, I especially liked the collaborations with PJ Harvey and Kylie. Not listened to his Grinderman albums yet.


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