1986 – Mute Records
Alternative/ Folk/ Post-Punk
The Bad Seeds’ third release is less of an album and more of a collection of adequately performed covers of the band’s favourite songs. The collection itself is done quite well with a nice spread of different tracks ranging from traditional to Tom Jones to The Velvet Underground, but the beauty of Nick Cave’s lyrical prowess are unfortunately nowhere to be found.
The band plays very well and Cave sings well enough for most of the record, but for me this really isn’t the Bad Seeds at their best. There are some brilliant tracks like Jesus Met The Woman At The Well and their version of Johnny Cash’s The Singer, but others like their cover of The Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrows Parties or Billy Roberts’ Hey Joe come across as more of a weak homage.
This record is interesting, however, in the sheer scope of music that the Seeds decided to include. It is a wonderful insight into the band’s influences and it is somewhat exciting to see how they are going to tackle a particular track. Will they do it as close to the original as possible a la Leadbelly’s Black Betty? Or will they add their own particular brand of sneering nastiness to it as in John Lee Hooker’s I’m Gonna Kill That Woman?
This interest, however, is more of an interest in the band itself (a band of which I’m usually a fan) rather than an interest in the record as it is, which is pretty mediocre. Really, while this album might be worth a listen if you’re a Bad Seeds aficionado, it’s probably not worth the effort if you’re just looking for some interesting music. Also I have a feeling that it might be a bit of a disappointment to those who are fans of Nick Cave’s later work, but haven’t really delved into the group’s infancy.
To conclude I will say that Kicking Against The Pricks is not a great album. It has some good tracks on it, but it’s not a great album by any standards. It is interesting to listen to a band wear its influences on its sleeves and trying to find its own unique sound, but this is an interest that, in my opinion, wears pretty thin after about one or two listens. It’s not a bad record, but it’s not anywhere near as good as some other Bad Seeds albums.
Worth a listen? Yes. Worth my seal of approval? No.
Here is the clip of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘The Singer’.
It is one of my personal favourites from the album “Kicking Against The Pricks”