sex as a foreign language

awkward aural adventures

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Album Reissues

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From Her to Eternity
The Firstborn Is Dead
Kicking Against The Pricks
Your Funeral… My Trial


In the quarter century since Nick Cave first stepped out from the fold of his seminal band The Birthday Party and into the heart of musical consorts The Bad Seeds, he has gone on to become one of the most prolific, prodigious and prominent artists working today. Cave is the ultimate chameleon, flitting between artistic habitats and adapting with disquieting authority. Yet it is still with the Bad Seeds that he conjures his finest work, as last years ‘Dig,Lazarus, Dig!!!’ confirms.

To mark the passing of 25 years since 1984s ‘From Her To Eternity’ clawed and mauled it’s way into the world with a guttural caterwaul, Mute have announced that all 14 of the Bad Seeds albums will be getting the reissue and remastering treatment, kicking off with the first 4 albums which, staggeringly, appeared within the first two years of Cave and the Bad Seeds union.

In order to entice the record buying public the reissues will include b-sides from each album, culled from various multi-format releases and singles, a version of the album in 5.1 surround sound, and far more enticingly, a specially commissioned short film by British filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard detailing the finer points of each album. To this end completists and fans will be well catered for, however, having spent sometime revisiting the albums with a sense of focus the real selling point is the albums themselves. They represent transitional moments in Caves career, on From Her To Eternity he rages and spasms, castigating each subject like a savant pastor channelling divine sermons, yet by the time we get to ‘Your Funeral… My Trial’ a mere 2 years later there is a new Cave on display, more considered, eloquent and accomplished. Though no less wracked with the burdens and obsessions of murder and love. In between we have the dirge-blues of ‘The Firstborn is Dead’, infused with uncertainty and surrealism mirroring the chaotic nature of Caves new life freshly moved from London to Berlin to escape the vanities and encroachments of the British music press. The odd piece out is the covers record ‘Kicking against the Pricks’, produced almost by accident over the protracted demands of Dylan’s lawyers regarding the inclusion of ‘Wanted Man’ on ‘The Firstborn….’ The record itself is a revelation to see Cave owning songs such as ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’ in a manner so exotic, yet so natural in hindsight.

The remastered versions offer up vast new realms of sound that had previously been hidden within the deep set grooves of 1980’s vinyl. Untold harmonies, piano’s and wayward bass notes are crystalised into the experience where once they were lost. They show an hitherto unsuspected structure of arrangement. A level of architecture

This is Cave and the Bad Seeds distilled to their purest essence, unfettered by expectation or burdened by the weight of experience. Obsessive, raw and reactionary these 4 records caress and stab at the soul in equal measure. It’s impacting in a way many current music is not, and for an generation who may only know Cave post PJ Harvey and Kylie, or merely through Grinderman or solo work they represent absolutely essential insight into the genesis of one of the latter 20th century, and new millennia’s most evocative artists. Very simply if you have never heard these records you have never really known Cave.


Written by Jonathan

March 9, 2009 at 3:45 am

Posted in Album Reviews, Reviews

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