1984 – Mute
Cave’s first step out of the shadows since the (self)destruction of The Birthday Party, From Her To Eternity is every bit as evil and cacophonous as one would expect from his new band. Cave himself shrieks and rants like a lunatic out in front of a new band who play the same out-of-sync-with-reality blues-based post-punk, but with slightly less manic energy than was heard on previous outings.
Yes, at its base The Bad Seeds début record does hold much in common with The Birthday Party, but this is not necessarily a bad thing with that earlier band disintegrating well before they finished what they started. It is also worth mentioning that, while the noise filled messiness of The Birthday Party remains, Blixa Bargeld’s presence (of Einsturzende Neubauten fame) seems to have honed the madness from an omnidirectional assault on the sense to a much more focused attack. I mean, the steady pounding of a track like Well Of Misery is hypnotizing and dangerous in a way that The Birthday Party’s frantic flailing never was, and the churning white-noise of Avalanche (one of the odder Leonard Cohen cover’s I’ve ever experienced) is just so blindingly sinister that one has to accept the fact that this new group is no mere clone of the earlier incarnation.
Of course, I can’t put it all down to Bargeld’s addition to the lineup, but it seems likely when considering this album in the light of Bargeld’s other work. The likenesses are certainly there for anyone who chooses to find them.
It must be said, however, that, although their sound has definitely transformed from early days to become what it is, For Her To Eternity does have the distinct sense that it is somewhat unfinished. I mean, each track is good and interestingly composed, but The Bad Seeds don’t really seem to have found the sound that would later become so quintessential to their records. There is just too much confusion and wildness in tracks like the title and Saint Huck that one can’t really feel comfortable that Cave has any idea what he’s doing.
This wildness and frenzy is definitely exciting to listen to and has its obvious merits, however, I think that to the level that it is on this record it serves more to undermine the intelligence of Cave and his compatriots. His carefully crafted lyrics become lost in a whirlwind of pathos and the band’s intricate knowledge of how to make music sound by awful and wonderful at the same time gets drowned out too often in their flurries of pure sound.
The follow on from this is that when the albums turn to softer modes, such as in the Presley cover In The Ghetto, things get a bit jarring. I mean, the track really should be touching, and in isolation it is, but when sandwiched between the chaos of the title track and drunken depression of The Moon In In The Gutter it loses some of its potency. How am I meant to take a man who raves and rants with such sinister passion seriously when decides to try his hand at heartfelt? It’s not easy, I can tell you that much.
All things considered, however, these gripes are relatively small in comparison to the things that make this record so exciting and interesting. Overall it does work very well and is a more than welcome addition to one’s record collection. It’s just that it doesn’t quite realize the same heights and depths as the group’s later, more honed releases such as Tender Prey.
- Tender Prey – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)
- An Eye For An Eye: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Tender Prey Revisited (thequietus.com)
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Hammersmith Apollo – music review (standard.co.uk)
- Gig review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Glasgow (scotsman.com)
- Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Hammersmith Apollo 28/10/2013 (tenderlentil.wordpress.com)
- Watch Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Play New Song “Give Us A Kiss” In London (stereogum.com)
- Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Live Album Coming (noise11.com)
- Searching For The Cave Man: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Live (thequietus.com)
- Essential Visual Communication: Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (pennymitchell1310493.wordpress.com)
- Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Manchester Apollo (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)