Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
From Her to Eternity
The Firstborn Is Dead
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Kicking Against The Pricks
Your Funeral...My Trial

Release Date: May 19, 2009
Produced by: Various
Format: CD/DVD Collector's Edition



Adam Jahnke


I first discovered Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds back in the late 80s with the release of their album Tender Prey.  I’d never heard anything like it before and was eager to track down Cave’s earlier work, both the four previous Bad Seeds albums and his work with The Birthday Party.  I was somewhat surprised that I didn’t respond to the earlier stuff nearly as enthusiastically.  Not that they were bad.  They just seemed to be missing something.

It wasn’t until I finally saw the band live that I began to appreciate the music on these first four albums.  Songs that I had previously dismissed suddenly came roaring to life, particularly their heartstopping run on “From Her To Eternity”.  I went back and listened to them again but the fire was missing.  All of the passionate intensity of “From Her To Eternity” or “Tupelo” was absent from these CDs.  Well, at long last, the fire is back.  Mute Records has reissued all of Cave’s first four albums with the Bad Seeds, giving them a much-needed sonic overhaul and adding in enough high-quality bonus material to make these must-haves for any Cave fan.

From Her To Eternity – Cave’s first album with the Bad Seeds marked a significant departure from his work with the Australian post-punk group The Birthday Party.  Listening to a Birthday Party album is not unlike sticking a couple of assault rifles in your ears and letting them rip.  The Bad Seeds’ effect is far more precise with much more emphasis on Cave’s astoundingly literate lyrics.  In spite of Cave’s great songwriting skill, the album actually kicks off with a roiling, sinister cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche”.  It’s as if Cave wanted you paying particular attention to the lyrics, so he opens with a songwriter whose lyrics demand attention.  Other highlights on the album include the title track, “Well Of Misery” and the Southern gothic “Saint Huck”.  The new package restores the album to its original sequencing, relegating the B-sides that were originally slapped into the middle of the CD to an accompanying DVD.  More details on the DVDs in a second.  The DVD on this album includes Cave’s amazing cover of “In The Ghetto” (as well as its video), “The Moon Is In The Gutter” and the 1987 version of “From Her To Eternity” from the film Wings Of Desire.

The Firstborn Is Dead – For his next trick, Cave attempted his version of a blues album.  Not surprisingly, it bears very little musical resemblance to most blues albums you’ve heard.  While the album doesn’t have the same visceral impact as its predecessor, it still includes some amazing songs, including the apocalyptic Elvis metaphor “Tupelo” and “Knockin’ On Joe”.  The DVD includes the B-side “The Six Strings That Drew Blood”, videos for “Tupelo” and “Wanted Man” and more.

Kicking Against The Pricks – Despite the success he’d had with cover songs, nobody expected Cave to release an album full of them and even if they did, they sure couldn’t have predicted something like this.  Cave’s song selection is beyond eclectic, ranging from John Lee Hooker’s “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman” to Glen Campbell’s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”.  The concept isn’t entirely successful (the band isn’t able to take “All Tomorrow’s Parties” away from the Velvet Underground, for instance) but songs like “Hey Joe” and “The Singer” make it a keeper.  Two of the best tracks are the B-sides on the second disc: Roy Orbison’s “Running Scared” and a wild, fervent version of “Black Betty”.  The disc also includes the video for “The Singer”.

Your Funeral…My Trial – Of all the new reissues, this album benefits the most.  The earlier CD of this not only sounded muddy and garbled, it scrambled the sequencing of the songs into a seemingly random order that completely erased the point of the album.  For the first time, I was able to appreciate the sorrowful “Your Funeral” half and the stark terror of the “My Trial” half.  The album holds some of Cave’s best work to date, including the heartbreaking “Stranger Than Kindness”, the dark and foreboding “The Carny” and “Hard On For Love”, another highlight of Cave’s live performances.  The DVD includes the sardonic B-side “Scum”.

Now about those DVDs…as good as each of the remastered CDs sound, they’re done one better by the surround sound mixes found on the DVDs.  Listening to “From Her To Eternity” in window-rattling DTS is as close as you’ll get to the intensity of seeing the band live.  Each disc also includes one part of a lengthy documentary entitled Do You Love Me Like I Love You.  Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, this is an oral history of the band as told by colleagues, critics, fans and Bad Seeds both past and present (including Barry Adamson, Blixa Bargeld, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey and others).  In fact, the only person absent is Cave himself.  This might seem like a shortcoming but in fact, it’s a fine technique.  Cave lets his music speak for itself and had he appeared on camera, we likely would have paid more attention to him.  Here, everyone is on an equal footing.  They’re shot exactly the same way against the same background so that no one person’s memories or opinions carry more weight than the others.  Plus, many of the stories recounted by the fans are moving, funny and occasionally deeply personal.  It’s a terrific piece of work and I hope to see it continued on future reissues.

Hardcore fans may grouse at the fact that there isn’t really any material here you haven’t already heard before.  Well, it’s difficult to complain too much about that lack considering the generous B-Sides & Rarities compilation the band released a few years ago.  As for alternate takes, I may be in the minority but I’ve always found them to be more interesting than entertaining.  Yes, it would have been nice to have a few or perhaps some contemporary live versions of a few of the songs.  But it’s a minor complaint compared to what we do have.  These are four great albums finally presented in the way they deserve.  Any self-respecting Nick Cave fan will want these and will find themselves desperately hoping for his next four albums to get the same treatment. 









Copyright 2002-2009 Matthew Rowe.
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