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A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

on September 14, 2016, 11:30am
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This feature originally ran back in August 2012 and has since been updated.

dissected logo A Streaming Companion to Nick CaveWelcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of the Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer, and occasional film actor.

A lot has changed in the world of Nick Cave since we first published this article way, way back in 2012. At the time, much of the Bad Seeds catalogue was being reissued, but it had been two years since the last Grinderman release, and four since the last Bad Seeds record. Cave’s long-time collaborator Mick Harvey had recently left the band, and it was unclear if the Bad Seeds would ever get back together.

In 2013, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds returned. With founding member Barry Adamson back in the fold for the first time in nearly 25 years, the band released their 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away. The following year was a busy one: the band toured the world, released their fourth live album (Live from KCRW), and a quasi-documentary surrounding the recording of the LP (20,000 Days on Earth). In early 2015, Cave published Sick Bag Song, an epic narrative poem documenting his experience touring North America in support of the comeback album.

Then, in July 2015, Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur passed away after falling off a cliff near the family home. The tragedy occurred between recording sessions for a new Bad Seeds album, which has since culminated in the release of the band’s 16th studio album, Skeleton Tree, and its accompanying film, One More Time With Feeling, which documents the recording process and Cave’s own struggles with his son’s death.

In honor of the man, the myth, and the legend, we dissected his entire catalogue. Why? With over 20 albums under his belt, spanning over 35 years, it could be overwhelming to just jump into the man’s discography feet first. You can thank us later; in the meantime, enjoy experiencing the wild, weird, and wonderful world of Nick Cave.

–Carson O’Shoney
Senior Staff Writer

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Prayers on Fire (1981)

 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Nick Cave, Rowland S. Howard, Mick Harvey, Tracy Pew, and Phil Callvert. Also featuring Phillip Jackson, Mick Hauser (Mick Hunter), and Stephen Ewart, who provide additional horns on “Nick the Stripper”.

Tracks: 11

Average Track Length: 3:10

Craziest Line: It’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one line, but we’re going with the entire lyrical content of “Capers”, provided by Genevieve McGuckin. The song has a great catchphrase for any trip to the dentist: “Like my tooth face, like my out-do.” Have fun with that.

Most Used Words: “Up” 29 times, “Girl” 15 times, “Zoo” 14 times

The Album as a Literal Birthday Party: Somewhere in the late-teens, where you’re learning the more complicated tenets of aggression. There is no birthday cake here.

Ideal Listening Scenario: Definitely not on hallucinogens. Unless you’re a masochist.

One Sentence Verdict: A true Cave painting in its primordial nature.  

–David Von Bader

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Junkyard (1982)

 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Rowland S. Howard, and Phill Calvert. Tracy Pew received credit, but was in jail on a DUI charge, so Barry Adamson handled bass on some of the tracks.

Tracks: 10

Average Track Length: 4:07

Most Used Words: “Me” 22 times, “Honey” 16 times, “Pow” 15 times, “Doll” 14 times

The Closest We’ll Ever Get to an LCD Soundsystem and William Shakespeare Collab: “Hamlet (Pow Pow Pow)”

The Album as a Literal Birthday Party: The album cover says it all. This one’s for the years when monsters are the coolest thing ever. So, yeah, your early twenties.

Ideal Listening Scenario: Driving something carbureted through the desert, surrounded by empty cups that once contained truck stop coffee, on as little sleep possible; passed-out stripper in the passenger seat optional.

One Sentence Verdict: Junkyard is notably less abstract in both its lyrics and sounds than the band’s debut record, though it’s still a platypus of a record: fuzzy, dangerous, and unlike anything else you’ve ever heard.

–David Von Bader

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From Her To Eternity (1984)

nickcavethebadseeds fromhertoeternity A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Barry Adamson, Blixa Bergeld, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, and Hugo Race.

Tracks: 10

Average Track Length: 6:13

Covers: 2, Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche” and Mac Davis’ “In the Ghetto”

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “And a portrait of Christ, nailed to an anchor/ Etched into his upper…” from “Cabin Fever”

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Staring off into the distance all jealous-like.

Most Used Word: “Down”

Craziest Line: “Let’s see that rat of fear go scuttle in their skulls”

Mustache: Not yet.

Resemblance to The Birthday Party: Extremely high.

Ideal Listening Scenario: Alone in a dirty apartment, while drinking heavily and thinking about an ex-lover.

One Sentence Verdict: Young, immature, and carefree – this is Nick and his gang at their rowdiest.

–Carson O’Shoney

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The Firstborn Is Dead (1985)

 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Barry Adamson, Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave, and Mick Harvey.

Tracks: 9

Average Track Length: 5:60

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “The hammers are a-talking/ The nails are a-singing/ The thorns are a-crowning him/ The spears are a-sailing” from “Black Crow King”

Chances This Album Cover Was Originally One of Cave’s Head Shots: Very high.

Isn’t It Eerily Similar to the Cover for The Replacements’ Don’t Tell a Soul? Sort of, but whereas Paul Westerberg looks like he’s bothered to see you, Cave’s likely wearing his game face here.

Most Used Words: “Wanted” 62 times, “Man” 62 times, “Down” 51 times, “Tupelo” 39 times

How Does It Match Against the Plagues of Egypt? C’mon, man.

Cave Trivia: This album’s title is a reference to Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother. Macabre that suits the sound!

Ideal Listening Scenario: Inebriated, somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.

One Sentence Verdict: Taking inspiration from the American south and delta blues, Cave created the defining Southern gothic album – no small feat for an Australian living in England.

–David Von Bader

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Kicking Against the Pricks (1986)

nick cave and the bad seeds kicking against the pricks stumm28 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Barry Adamson, Blixa Bergeld, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Hugo Race, and Thomas Wydler.

Tracks: 14

Average Track Length: 3:47

Covers: All of ‘em.

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well” is Cave’s interpretation of a traditional gospel song that tells the story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman from John 4:4-26

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Staring down a dude who asked him for a smoke.

Buddy, But What’s With the Hair? It was the ’80s. Give it up.

Most Used Word: “Keep”

If Nick Cave Had Written One of These Songs, It’d Be: “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman”

Just When You Thought the Last Thing the World Needed Was Another Cover of Black Betty: Nick Cave kicks it in the ass.

Ideal Listening Scenario: In a dive bar, where fights could break out at any second.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave wears his influences on his sleeve and throws together a fun covers album.

–Carson O’Shoney

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Your Funeral… My Trial (1986)

your funeral my trial A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Barry Adamson, Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, and Thomas Wydler.

Tracks: 8

Average Track Length: 5:21

Covers: 1

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “The Lord is my Shephard I shall not want/ But he leadeth me like a lamb to the lips/ Of the mouth of the valley of the shadow of death/ I am his rod and his staff/ I am his sceptre and shaft/ And she is heaven and hell” from “Hard On For Love”

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Probably heroin.

Most Used Word: “Love”

Song Most Likely To Give You Nightmares: “The Carny”

Short Film Inspired By “The Carny”: Marc Craste’s “Jo Jo in the Stars”

Craziest Line: “I am the fiend hid in her skirt/ and it’s hot as hell in here.”

Resemblance to The Birthday Party: Waning

Ideal Listening Scenario: Walking through back alleys of a big city at midnight of a rainy day.

One Sentence Verdict: A gut-punch of an album, Cave goes darker than ever before to make a powerful, depressing record.

–Carson O’Shoney

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Tender Prey (1988)

 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave 

Personnel: Blixa Bergeld, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Kid Congo Powers, Roland Wolf, and Thomas Wydler.

Tracks: 10

Average Track Length: 4:56

Covers: 2. Sort of. “Deanna” and “City of Refuge” are based on/inspired by other songs, not straight covers.

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “I hear stories from the chamber/ How Christ was born into a manger/ And like some ragged stranger/ Died upon the cross/ And might I say it seems so fitting in its way/ He was a carpenter by trade/ Or at least that’s what I’m told” from “The Mercy Seat”

Songs That Were Covered by Johnny F’ing Cash: “The Mercy Seat”

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Being interrogated by the feds.

Most Used Word: “Down”

Song Most Likely to Give You Nightmares: “Up Jumped the Devil”

Best Use of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in a Video Game: “Up Jumped the Devil” in Alan Wake

Craziest Line: “He insists that he piss in your fist/ But he still takes the money anyways.”

Ideal Listening Scenario: In a cell on death row.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave’s most fully realized album at this point in his career, showing flashes of maturation alongside his signature gritty music.

–Carson O’Shoney

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The Good Son (1990)

 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, Kid Congo Powers, and Thomas Wylder.

Tracks: 9

Average Track Length: 5:01

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “Foi na cruz, foi na cruz/ Que um dia/ Meus pecados castigados em Jesus” from “Foi Na Cruz”, which translates to “It was on the cross, it was on the cross/ One day/ My sins punished in Jesus”

Featured Foil: Blixa Bargeld on “The Weeping Song”

Covers: 0 (Though “Foi Na Cruz”, “The Good Son”, and “The Witness Song” are all based on traditional pieces)

Most Used Words: “Me” 29 times, “Down” 25 times, “Weeping” 21 times

Wait a Minute, Isn’t This the Name of a Macauley Culkin film?: It is. 

That Film’s Tagline — “Evil Has Many Faces” — Pretty Much Screams Nick Cave, Though: Yeah, but not really here. In fact, some fans were ticked off that Cave “went soft” on this record.

Moment of Excellence: The vocal counter-play between Cave and Bargeld on “The Weeping Song” mixes with the boom of a timpani and vibraphone accents in a way that can only be described as sublime.

Ideal Listening Scenario: In the dark, with a broken heart, cloaked in a cloud of cigarette smoke and/or while plotting a murder.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave’s most subtle album to date, The Good Son marks a turning point in the Bad Seeds discography.

–David Von Bader

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Henry’s Dream (1992)

 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, Martyn P. Casey, Conway Savage, and Thomas Wylder.

Tracks: 9

Average Track Length: 4:56

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “Christina the Astonishing” is based on the life of Christina Mirabilis, a holy woman from 12th century, considered by some to be a Saint.

For A Second I Thought That Was Adrian Pasdar On the Billboard… Or, Richard Grieco, am I right?

Most Used Words: “Down” 39 times, “Me” 36 times, “Road” 29 times

Slow Jam of Distinction: “Straight To You”, with its elegant arrangement and beyond poetic lyrics (get a load of that final verse!), should be the song played when the world finally sees its end.

Josh Groban Does a Cover of That Song! Oy vey.

Ideal Listening Scenario: The Sunday morning recovery after a weekend of self-abusive behavior.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave mixes the softer side shown on The Good Son with some gritty storytelling to create one of his best albums.

–David Von Bader

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Let Love In (1994) 

nickcavethebadseeds letlovein A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Blixa Bergeld, Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Conway Savage, and Thomas Wydler.

Tracks: 10

Average Track Length: 4:49

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “I’ve searched the holy books/ Tried to unravel the mystery of Jesus Christ, the saviour” from “Nobody’s Baby Now”

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Channeling his inner Ziggy Stardust.

Most Used Word: “Sorry”

Does Cave’s Australian Accent Ever Come Out? A little bit, on “Do You Love Me”

Cave’s Two Acronyms For “Loverman”:

L is for LOVE baby // L is for LOVE baby
O is for ONLY you that I do // O is for O yes I do
V is for loving VIRTUALLY everything you are // V is for VIRTUE, so I ain’t gonna hurt you
E is for loving almost EVERYTHING that you do // E is for EVEN if you want me to
R is for RAPE me // R is for RENDER unto me, baby
M is for MURDER me // M is for that which is MINE
A is for ANSWERING all of my prayers // A is for ANY old how, darling
N is for KNOWING your loverman’s going to be the answer to all of yours // N is for ANY old time

Ideal Listening Scenario: At a brothel in Las Vegas.

One Sentence Verdict: At this point, Cave lets love in and churns out the most consistent, fully-realized album of his career.

–Carson O’Shoney

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Murder Ballads (1996)

nickcaveth A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave 

Personnel: Blixa Bergeld, Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Conway Savage, Jim Sclavunos, and Thomas Wydler.

Guest List: PJ Harvey, Kylie Minogue, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Tracks: 10

Average Track Length: 5:58

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “As she sat shivering in her grief/ Like the Madonna painted on the church-house wall” from “O’Malley’s Bar”

Death Count: 65

Deaths Per Song: Six and a half?

Songs With “La La La” Sing-a-longs: 3

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Trick question! This is the first Bad Seeds album without Cave on the cover.

Most Used Word: “Said”

Craziest Line: “I’m a bad motherfucker don’t you know/ and I’ll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole.”

Choice Quote From the “No Thank You” Letter Cave Sent to MTV After They Tried to Nominate Him for Best Male Artist: “My muse is not a horse and I am in no horse race and if indeed she was, still I would not harness her to this tumbrel – this bloody cart of severed heads and glittering prizes. My muse may spook! May bolt! May abandoned me completely!”

Ideal Listening Scenario: While locked up in an insane asylum.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave’s most popular album may also be his most insane – and most rewarding.

–Carson O’Shoney

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The Boatman’s Call (1997)

nickcavethebadseeds theboatmanscall A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Blixa Bergeld, Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Conway Savage, and Jim Sclavunos.

Tracks: 12

Average Track Length: 4:20

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “Hail the Pentecostal morn/ The reading is from Luke 24/ Where Christ returns to his loved ones” from “Brompton Oratory”, named after and about a large Catholic church in London

Most Used Word: “Love”

What is Nick Cave Doing on the Album Cover? Looking as hard as possible to give the impression that it’s not a soft record.

Resemblance to The Birthday Party: Absolutely none.

Where are the guitars? Nowhere to be found. Cave has embraced the piano.

Craziest Line: “This useless old fucker with his twinkling cunt/ doesn’t care if he gets hurt.”

That Part Where Animals Talk: “A West Country girl with a big fat cat/ that looks into her eyes of green/ and meows ‘he loves you’ then meows again”

Ideal Listening Scenario: Strolling through a lush, quiet park reflecting on your life.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave’s most personal record so far – a beautiful and heartbreaking portrait of an artist at 40.

–Carson O’Shoney

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No More Shall We Part (2001)

1441 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Blixa Bergeld, Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey, Conway Savage, and Thomas Wydler.

Guests: Leon Bosch, Gustav Clarkson, Lionel Handy, Rebecca Hirsch, Patrick Kiernan, Simon Fischer, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Paul Morgan, Frank Schaefer, Jim Sclavunos, Jackie Shave, Bruce White, Gavyn Wright, and Naomi Wright.

Tracks: 12

Average Track Length: 5:38

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “If we all hold hands and very quietly shout/ Hallelujah/ God is in the house/ God is in the house/ Oh I wish He would come out” from “God is in the House”

If A Song From This Album Soundtracked A Scene in One of Cave’s Films, It Would Be: The whole album over the course of Wings of Desire.

Is This Album a Goodbye to Heroin or the Single Life? “Now, you might think it wise to risk it all/ Throw caution to the reckless wind/ But with her hot cocoa and her medication/ My nurse had been my one salvation.” Is his wife the nurse? Is “medication” a euphemism for smack? Is his wife shooting him up? What the fuck is going on?

Best Comment on the Lyrics to “Hallelujah” and Response to Above Query [sic throughout]: “I dont know. I’m only 16. I cant begin to scratch the surface of the depth of nick cave’s lyrics.”

Type of Whiskey: Single-barrel bourbon

Mustache: No mustache.

Wait, Is He Being Funny?: “Moral sneaks in the White House/ Computer geeks in the schoolhouse/ Drug freaks in the crackhouse/ Homos roam in the streets in packs/ Queer-eyed bashers with tire jacks/ Lesbian counter attacks”

Ideal Listening Scenario: Lying down in a field of flowers near a small town in the countryside.

One Sentence Verdict: No More Shall We Part is kind of a downer; Cave may have polished a new, sterling, deeper-than-deep side of his songwriting, but it doesn’t hold a sad candle to the long, deliciously nasty shadow of the Grinderman franchise.

–Harley Brown

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Nocturama (2003)

1308 A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Blixa Bargeld, Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey, Conway Savage, Jim Sclavunos, and Thomas Wydler.

Guests: Chris Bailey, Mickey Gallagher, Chas Jankel, Johnny Turnbull, and Norman Watt-Roy.

Tracks: 10

Average Track Length: 5:38

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “And so it goes / And so it seems / That God lives only in our dreams” from “There is a Town”

When Nick Cave Doesn’t Sound Like Nick Cave, He Sounds Like: Matt Berninger

If A Song From This Album Soundtracked A Scene In One of Nick Cave’s Films, It Would Be: “There Is A Town” during the end of The Proposition when Charlie stares out over the blood-red sunset.

Hints at Bandmate Blixa Bargeld’s Departure: None

Best Parts of the Extremely Biased Allmusic.com Review of the Album, Among Extremely Biased Allmusic.com Reviews of All Nick Cave’s Albums: “Storm-and-bang” instead of “sturm and drang”; “longtime fans may need to reach for the smelling salts after hearing it”; and “he is treading water he puked out 20 years ago” (although the reviewer does accrue points for using “somnambulant”)

Type of Whiskey: Australian single malt, in honor of “The Proposition” and Cave’s Aussie heritage

Mustache: No mustache.

Republican Candidate Who Would Use the Chorus “Bring It On” As Their Entrance Song Before Grinderman Properly, Lawfully Flayed Them: Sarah Palin

Ideal Listening Scenario: Doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you listen to it during your mid-life crisis.

One Sentence Verdict: Despite the frantic organ solos at the end of “Dead Man In My Bed” and “Babe I’m On Fire”, the forays into freak-rock sound are weighted and tainted by what’s to come in a few years, when Cave has come clean and gotten married (and we all know what that means).

–Harley Brown

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Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004)

 abloo A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey, James Johnston, Conway Savage, Jim Sclavunos, and James Wydler.

Tracks: Abattoir Blues: 9, The Lyre of Orpheus: 8

Average Track Length: 4:51

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “Take this bread and take this wine/ Your passing is not what we mourn/ But the world you left behind” from “Let the Bells Ring”

Most Used Word: “Down”

Worth It Just to Hear Cave Say the Word: Frappuccino

Most Sarcastic Gospel Song: “Get Ready For Love”

Craziest Line: “Eurydice appeared brindled in blood/ and she said to Orpheus/ if you play that fucking thing down here/ I’ll stick it up your orifice!”

That Time When Nick Cave Sounds Happy and It’s Weird: “Breathless”

Ideal Listening Scenario: In an old abandoned church, filled with stained glass windows and broken pews.

One Sentence Verdict: This gem of a double album finds the Bad Seeds at the height of their gospel-infused gothic phase.

–Carson O’Shoney

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Grinderman (2007)

grindermanalbum A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Martyn Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, and Jim Sclavunos.

Tracks: 11

Average Track Length: 3:38

Animal Body Parts Used as a Sexual Enhancement: Panther piss

Ratio of Cave As Voodoo Shaman to Cave As Fire-and-Brimstone Preacher: The sheer number of white mice, black dogs, baboons, monkey fingers, snow white doves, revolting little Chihuahas, honeybees, snakes rattling, and hairy beards would suggest the former. That said, he does seem to know the Bible pretty well on “Love Bomb”.

Attempts of Chivalry: When he reads Eliot and Yeats and sucks in his gut just to get into a woman’s pants (then again, all he wants is “a little consensual rape” in the morning and evening, so you be the judge).

Brand of Whiskey: Technically, none. He drinks cognac on this album. Well … okay, fine, moonshine. Preferably brewed in a swamp somewhere by Samuel L. Jackson.

If a Song From This Album Soundtracked a Nick Cave Film, It Would Be: Again, none. Maybe Black Snake Moan.

Mustache: Trucker

Best Man-Made Animal Sounds: The sound of a bee buzzing on “Honey Bee”.

Hints of The Birthday Party’s Proto-Punk: “No Pussy Blues” sounds a little like The Dictators’ “Pussy and Money”, but maybe that’s just the pussy part.

Ideal Listening Scenario: Drinking heavily inside a strip club that doubles as a biker bar.

One Sentence Verdict: Free from the weight of the Bad Seeds moniker, the core group let go of all inhibitions to make a primal, rollicking album that harkens back to the days of The Birthday Party.

–Harley Brown

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Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008)

dig A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Martyn P. Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey, James Johnston, Jim Sclavunos, and James Wydler.

Tracks: 11

Average Track Length: 4:52

Most Overt Reference to Religion: In “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!”, Cave reimagines the Lazarus story from John 11:1-44 in modern times.

Most Used Word: “Down”

Mustache: Glorious

Craziest Line: “Here comes Alina with the black eyes, she’s given herself a transfusion/ she’s filled herself with Panda blood to avoid the confusion.”

Did Grinderman Bring A Little Edge Back to the Bad Seeds? Absolutely.

Fitting Final Line If This Were the Last Bad Seeds Record: “Well, I’ve gotta say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.”

Ideal Listening Scenario: Driving across middle America (okay, this one might be personal).

One Sentence Verdict: Invigorated by the Grinderman experience, Nick Cave returns to his day job and brings them back to the early, gritty sound.

–Carson O’Shoney

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Grinderman 2 (2010)

grinderman grinderman 2 2010 cover A Streaming Companion to Nick Cave

Personnel: Martyn Casey, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, and Jim Sclavunos.

Tracks: 9

Average Track Length: 4:36

Best Series of Lines On the Album, Maybe Ever: “My baby calls me the Loch Ness monster/ Two great big humps and then I’m gone/ Actually, I’m the Abominable Snowman.”

Best Euphemism For a Sexual Act: “I stick my fingers in your biscuit jar and crush up your gingerbread men.”

What’s Swampier Than Swamp-crotch?: If “Bawitdaba”-era Kid Rock killed off Ozzy Osbourne and persuaded Black Sabbath to cover The Cramps, it might sound like the gnarly, nightmarish sludge of guitars that close out “When My Baby Comes”.

Additions to Most Dangerous Jobs, or else The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad: “Worm tamer”, “serpent wrangler”, and “mambo rider.”

When Cave Doesn’t Sound like Cave, He Sounds Like: Mark Lanegan

Brand of Whiskey: Definitely moonshine this time. Specifically, this kind.

Mustache: Trucker

Song That Should Have Been Used in The Exorcist: “EVIL! EVIL! EVIL!”

Ideal Listening Scenario: Between the sheets with someone who definitely has more tattoos than you.

One Sentence Verdict: Less abrasive than Grinderman, but even weirder, 2 could almost be a Bad Seeds record but still keeps its edge with some hard-hitting and experimental tunes.

–Harley Brown

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Push the Sky Away (2013)

Image (13) nick-cave-bad-seeds-push-the-sky-away.jpeg for post 279747

Personnel: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Conway Savage, Martyn Casey, Thomas Wylder, Jim Sclavunos & Barry Adamson (back for the first time since 1986). The first Bad Seeds album without founding member Mick Harvey.

Tracks: 9

Average Track Length: 4:44

Things Nick Cave Believes In (According to “Mermaids”): “I believe in God/ I believe in mermaids too/ I believe in 72 virgins on a chain/ I believe in the Rapture”

Most Used Word: “Down” 31 times, “All” 21 times, “Love” 16 times

Accompanying Film: 20,000 Days on Earth — part documentary, part fever dream

What’s Cave Doing On the Cover? Shining a light on his wife in their actual bedroom.

Cheeky Pop Culture References: “Hannah Montana does the african savannah” / “Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Taluca Lake” / “Wikipedia is heaven”

Song So Good He Wrote a Song About Finishing It: “Jubilee Street”

Craziest Line: “She was a catch/ We were a match/ I was the match that would fire up her snatch” or… “I got a fetus on a leash”

Mustache: Sadly, gone

Ideal Listening Scenario: Alone on a dark and dirty beach in the middle of the night.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave got the Grinderman out of his system and made his most emotionally affecting album in a decade by getting back to basics.

–Carson O’Shoney

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Skeleton Tree (2016)

nick cave skeleton tree

Personnel: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, Thomas Wylder, Jim Sclavunos, George Vjestica

Tracks: 8

Average Track Length: 4:58

Most Overt Reference to Religion: “You believe in God, but you get no special dispensation for this belief now/ You’re an old man sitting by the fire, you’re the mist rolling off the sea/ You’re a distant memory in the mind of your creator, don’t you see?” from “Jesus Alone”

Most Used Word: “Love” 28 times, “Now” 19 times, “Nothing” 17 times

Accompanying Film: One More Time With Feeling, a stark performance film and rumination on life and death.

Ambiance: Sparse and synthy

Mustache: Probably hiding in Warren Ellis’ beard.

Craziest Line: “The umbilicus was a faucet that fountained rabid blood / And I spun on my wheel like a laboratory rat”

Best Guest Vocals on a Bad Seeds Song Since Kylie Minogue: Else Torp, on “Distant Sky”

Most Heart-wrenching Lyrics: “They told us our dreams would outlive us / They told us our gods would outlive us / But they lied”

Ideal Listening Scenario: Inside your own casket.

One Sentence Verdict: Cave creates a brutally devastating and sonically gorgeous masterpiece out of the ashes of a heartbreaking personal tragedy.

–Carson O’Shoney

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