1982 – Missing Link
Nick Cave’s psychotic punk frenzy band from before The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, have produced with this album a truly explosive dose of chaos and anarchy. From the moment we blast off with the sleaze of She’s Hit to the final kick in the eardrums of Junkyard the whole thing just grunts, kicks, screams, and punches its way through a great catalogue of music.
The music is rambling and dark, full of brooding bass lines and occasional guitar lines that prowl like some sort of demon, but the real highlight on this record is probably Cave’s voice and lyrics. His performance with The Birthday Party really builds up into a kind of theatrical pathos that just floods whatever room you’re listening to the album in and drives you somewhat mad. I mean, hearing Cave shrieking “speak to me Joe!” to his slowly dying fictional character in Dead Joe is just so unsettling, even if it is laced with an odd cabaret comedy, and the sinister stalker romanticism of Kewpie Doll is just as threatening as it is musically enjoyable. There is just something so dangerous yet creepily sexy in caves performance on Junkyard that transforms him from a drug-addled lunatic into a kind of evil Elvis and changes the band from a gang of violent thugs holding instruments into an orchestra of unrelenting hellfire theatre.
I guess that some might actually be turned off by the continuous onslaught of darkness and weird noise that is on the album and that would be a fair thing, but I think that there beneath this layer of anarchy there is actually something very well thought out and musically intriguing going on here. I mean, when you come right down to it and peel the layers of confusion away you end up with a band that’s essentially playing the blues; albeit in a uniquely primitive way, but the blues nonetheless. I mean, if you take the time to listen beneath the ranting of Big Jesus Trash Can it’s not too hard to hear the kind of tune that would have been played by Muddy Waters, and then suddenly all the craziness just seems to make sense.
Another thing that I just find entrancing about this album is the sheer originality of it all. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was going quite this crazy in music at the time. Punks and Goths were all talking about how dark and angry they were, but only The Birthday Party were actually translating this into explosive and energetic records like Junkyard. There’s really just no way that one can deny the band’s uniqueness or sincerity when listening to this record, it’s all just so frantic and chaotic, and tracks like 6” Gold Blade just stir up something primal and sexual in the listener that makes them feel bad for feeling this way. For me, that is a good indication of rock and roll music doing what it’s meant to.
All in all, however, Junkyard really isn’t one of the great masterpieces of music. It is spectacular and wonderful, but I would say that it is perhaps just a little bit too violent and creepy. It’s just not accessible enough to be elevated up to the status of other albums like Trout Mask Replica or Daydream Nation despite how truly great it is. It’s kind of like The Birthday Party were just left beating on the walls of the world rather than kicking down the door and wrecking the joint. Still, I would heartily recommend giving this record a good and thorough listen because there are hours of enjoyment to be had with it.
Now we can all enjoy the insanity of this brilliant track from The Birthday Party album ‘Junkyard’.
- Grinderman – Grinderman (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)