New site address, and an update!

Hello! Now, I’m not going to pretend to myself that anyone has been waiting on an update from this site, but I am planning on finishing my Nick Cave Retrospective, and just in case anyone was wondering whatever happened to it, here’s the deal…

I started this project when I was working full time with an hours commute every morning and evening. This gave me plenty of time to really listen to these records and write about them. In January I left my job to return to Uni. I’m doing a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work. What this means in practical terms, is I’m spending a lot less time driving each day. This just means I need to make an actual effort to listen to the albums to finish this retrospective.

As of this week, I’ve finally managed to get going again, so will be posting an update soon. But, I’ve got a new site address:

The original site was set up mainly just for video games, but it ended up being more about music and comics than anything else! The new address reflects that, so this will be the last post on this site. I’ve copied everything over, so the new site will look exactly the same (hopefully!) as this one. But, just in case anyone is interested, please update your bookmarks.

Thanks! 🙂

Nick Cave Retrospective – Part 6: Blues & A Brief Aside…

I’m a Nick Cave fan who is listening to the entire back catalogue in release order during my drives to and from work so that I can better evaluate how I feel about the latest album, Ghosteen.


Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus (2004)

If I’m being completely honest, I can’t think of many double albums which warrant being spread out across two discs. In almost all cases, a better, more focused record could have (and usually should have) been created, with the remaining songs relegated to B-Side status. This, as you may well have guessed, is not true here. Almost serving as two entirely different albums, Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus is a deep, masterful piece of work which contains some of the absolute best of the bands work to date.

Part One – Abattoir Blues

Abattoir Blues comes crashing out of the gates with a riotous celebration of rock & roll, DA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA, GET READY FOR LOVE…! It’s a wake-up call that’s not often present on a Bad Seeds record, and it’s most welcome. The next track, Cannibal’s Hymn is one of my favorites, but the real stand out here is the double whammy of There She Goes My Beautiful Love and Nature Boy, both of which rattle along at a terrific pace (well, for the Bad Seeds at least) and cement themselves firmly in the upper echelons of anything the band has ever recorded. The albums title track is equally brilliant, and in fact the entire first disc is so good that it’s difficult to find anything more to say about it other than how awesome it is! The first part of the album closes with Fable Of The Brown Ape, which actually stands out as a bit of an oddity when set against the rest of the songs. It almost harks back to earlier work with the storytelling, off key vocals and discordant strings, but it’s equally brilliant nonetheless.

Standout tracks: Cannibal’s Hymn, There She Goes My Beautiful World & Nature Boy.

Part Two – The Lyre Of Orpheus

The second part of this album is a little quieter, a little more laid back and a little more stripped down. It sounds, if anything, a lot more traditional Bad Seeds than the full on first part. I can’t honestly say I enjoy it as much as Abattoir Blues, but it’s still a very worthwhile listen. The gorgeous Breathless and Easy Money lead the listener in to the first song where Nick really lets loose – the almost pirate-shanty like Supernaturally. What a great song! That’s really the only point of high energy on the disc though, as the closing three tracks ease you out as gently as you went in.

Standout tracks: Easy Money & Supernaturally.

All in all, Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus is an absolutely fantastic album, which successfully avoids the pitfalls becoming of most double albums – mainly by them being two completely different pieces of work. If the band had put these out as seperate records a year or two apart, nobody would have minded. As it is, we’ve got possibly one of the greatest double albums of all time.

Grinderman (2007)

I wasn’t sure whether to include the two Grinderman records in this retrospective, but why not? Grinderman, a side project made up mainly from Bad Seeds members was formed in 2006, supposedly as “a way to escape the weight of The Bad Seeds” (Cave, 2010). Quite what this means, I don’t know, because Grinderman sounds a hell of a lot like The Bad Seeds to me! Well, sort of. The songs tend to sound a little more disjointed, deliberately avant-garde and vitriolic to me. More garage rock, even.

Before listening to this album, the only song I’d really heard was Go Tell The Women, and as it turns out, it’s pretty indicative of the rest of the album. I really like it. A lot of the songs start off fairly innocuously before descending in to something resembling crazed mania. No Pussy Blues is a perfect example of this. The title track is brilliant and I could have quite happily had it go on for another three or four minutes.

Looking at release dates, it seems this album was recorded around the same time Dig, Lazarus Dig! and it’s easy to see a little crossover here and there. So, overall this is pretty much excellent stuff, and an easy recommendation to any Bad Seeds fan. All I’m wondering now is whether I need to go back and do some Birthday Party records too..?

Standout tracks: No Pussy Blues, Grinderman and (I Don’t Need You To) Set Me Free.

Nick Cave Retrospective – Part 5: No More Nocturnal Partings

I’m a Nick Cave fan who is listening to the entire back catalogue in release order during my drives to and from work so that I can better evaluate how I feel about the latest album, Ghosteen.


No More Shall We Part (2001)

I must admit, this was the part of my Nick Cave odyssey that I was least looking forward to. The first two albums of the new century frequently appear lower on rankings lists than The Bad Seeds other work. I’m happy to report that those doubts were absolutely and completely unfounded.

No More Shall We Part is a terrific album, and shows Cave’s writing has absolutely matured over the years. He’s always had a way with words, but there are songs on this record that are outright poetry set to music. God Is In The House is perhaps the best example of this, with one of the finest two line lyrics he’s ever written: “well-meaning little therapists, goose-stepping twelve-stepping tetotalitarianists”. It’s observant, it’s smart, and perhaps most importantly of all, it’s funny.

The rest of the album contains some of my favourite tunes from the band so far. Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow, Oh My Lord and The Sorrowful Wife have all earned their spot of the “(Very) Best Of Nick Cave” Spotify playlist I’ve been creating as I go. I can honestly say this is what I consider to be one of the Bad Seeds best albums.

One final note; the first time I listened to this record a couple of weeks ago I was driving home from work. It was dark, and around Guy Fawkes night. As the manic crescendo of Oh My Lord was blasting out of my car speakers I glanced over to my left. Somewhere, against the dark night sky, someone was letting off fireworks. The noise in the car coupled with the explosions in the sky lent and incredible air of, well, epicness. It was fucking brilliant.

Standout tracks: Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow, God Is In The House & Oh My Lord.

Nocturama (2003)

Consistently considered amongst the weakest of the Bad Seeds output, Nocturama is by no means a bad album. On the contrary, I rather liked it. Wonderful Life sets the usual melancholic mood we’ve become accustomed to by now and the following few tracks do little to raise spirits. This is far from being a criticism, by the way.

The album really kicks it up with the double whammy of Bring It On and Dead Man In My Bed, the first of which is a real highlight of the record and doesn’t sound a million miles away from the incredible Grindermen track, Palaces Of Montezuma. The tail end of the album doesn’t really drop in quality other than Rock Of Gibraltar, who’s only crime is just being plain boring. Finally we get Babe, I’m On Fire. A 15 minute, 43-odd verse, colossal tune that finishes off the album splendidly.

A weaker album it might be, but I’d rather listen to a weaker Nick Cave record than 99% of anything else that’s ever been recorded.

Standout tracks: Bring It On & There Is A Town.

Mike Patton – Corpse Flower

Mike Patton has a new album out, a collaboration with French pop legend Jean-Claude Vannier.

What immediately strikes me about the album, ‘Corpse Flower’, is just how easy it is to listen to. As any Patton fan will know, most of his work outside of Faith No More require a little commitment and effort from the listener in order to fully appreciate it. No such effort is required here, its instantly accessible, and I welcome that.

The record is largely Patton’s trademark ‘lounge with a tinge of horror’ style. There are songs in which he pulls off an almost flawless impersonation of Leonard Cohen, and others that would feel more at home on a Nick Cave album.

I’m not sure whether or not I would put Corpse Flower in front of someone as an introduction to Mike Patton, but for anyone even slightly familiar with any of his side projects or solo work, this really is an essential listen. It stands alongside the very best of Tomahawk, Fantomas and any of the more esoteric stuff he’s put out over the last couple of decades. This is Mike Patton doing what he does, but God he’s doing it well.

Nick Cave Retrospective – Part 4: Loving Murderous Boatmen

I’m a Nick Cave fan who is listening to the entire back catalogue in release order during my drives to and from work so that I can better evaluate how I feel about the latest album, Ghosteen.


Let Love In (1994)

Until I began this project, if anyone had asked me for my favorite Bad Seeds album, I’d give my stock answer; ‘Let Love In’. Whilst I’m not sure that would still be my reply, it really is a terrific piece of work. Do You Love Me is a perfect album opener, and it was whilst listening to this song it occurred to me that it’s got all the hallmarks of some kind of trip-hop or dub track. Then I noticed a few of the other tracks on the album have those slow, repeating basslines which remain unchanged against the melodies, the percussive roll of the drums and the kind of string/organ stabs that would usually sound more at home on a Massive Attack or Mad Professor record. I thought someone else must have made that connection so I Googled it, and no, I’m claiming it as my own. Let Love In is a trip-hop album in disguise! Classic Nick, the musical chameleon.

Elsewhere on the album we range from slow, comically dark ballads to the outright noise-punk of Jangling Jack and Thirsty Dog. Loverman remains one of the best Bad Seeds tunes to date and Red Right Hand needs no introduction to anyone. The album really does stand up, 25 years later, as one of the all time greats – it’s a classic.

Standout tracks: Do You Love Me (parts 1 & 2), Loverman & Red Right Hand.

Murder Ballads (1996)

Back to where it all began. As I wrote in the introductory post, this was the first Bad Seeds record I ever bought. I won’t lie, it took me a few listens to get it. I’d never heard anything like it before, and I’ve heard little else since. Loosely a collection of old folk tales with a common theme, you guessed it; murder. The first track on the album, Song Of Joy, is almost a perfect distillation of everything great about The Bad Seeds sound. The slightly off-kilter melody, the menacing half sung, half spoken lyrics and the suitibility epic crescendo to finish. It’s an absolute treat to listen to.

It’s not a perfect album, and there are songs on here I’ve warmed to far less than others, but the jazz leanings of Crow Jayne, the sad tale of Mary Bellows in The Kindness Of Strangers and whatever deranged, dark corner of his mind Cave pulled O’Malleys Bar from never get old. I’m not a huge fan of the duets with PJ Harvey and Kylie, but there are no bad songs on here really – just some I enjoy a lot more than the rest. And let’s not forget about Stagger Motherfucking Lee. Probably the most viscaral representation of pure carnage ever committed to song.

Standout tracks: Song Of Joy, Stagger Lee & The Kindness Of Strangers.

The Boatman’s Call (1997)

Coming only a year after Nick Cave’s tribute to murderous folktale anti-heroes, The Boatman’s Call couldn’t have been more different. Easily the most accessible of the Bad Seeds work, it’s the closest the band has ever come to mainstream, I feel. A much slower, more sedate affair than any of their previous work, the album feels almost desolate and barren in comparison. But that’s not a bad thing. The music, on the whole, steps back and allows Cave’s lyrics to really shine though. Has there ever been a better opening line than, “I don’t belive in an interventionist god, but darlin’, I know you do“?

This might be the Bad Seeds masterpiece. It’s not my favorite, but it’s hard to argue against this being their best work. The album flows from one beautiful track to another, with very little disrupting that journey.

Standout tracks: Brompton Oratory & There Is A Kingdom.

Nick Cave Retrospective – Part 3: Good Dreams Live

I’m a Nick Cave fan who is listening to the entire back catalogue in release order during my drives to and from work so that I can better evaluate how I feel about the latest album, Ghosteen.


The Good Son (1990)

Let’s get this out of the way. This album is an absolute fucking masterpiece. Easily the finest work so far from the Bad Seeds, the album flows from one incredible tune to the next. Lush strings accompany most of the songs, with more than one of them sounding like they wouldn’t be out of place as a Bond theme. There are hints of Americana sporadically dropped through the record, the almost traditional gospel stylings of the title track to the mad preaching of The Witness Song. The Hammer Song is Nick Cave at his most harrowing finest, spitting out his lyrics with pure malice and terror. Then, completely out of the blue, comes possibly one of the finest love songs of all time. One of my all time favorite songs, not just from Nick Cave, but ever. The Ship Song is just magnificent. Live versions arguably better the studio recording (the first time I ever heard the song was on the Live At The Albert Hall CD bundled with the first Best Of compilation), but even so, this song never fails to hit hard. If Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds retired after this album, they’d have gone down as heroes even then. But they didn’t, there is much, much more to come. Outstanding in every way, if you only ever buy one Bad Seeds album, you wouldn’t go wrong with this one.

Standout tracks: The Ship Song, The Hammer Song & The Witness Song.

Henry’s Dream (1992)

Following up The Good Son was always going to be an impossible task. There was just no way of topping that record, and fortunately, it doesn’t seem like they tried. Henry’s Dream is quite a radical change in sound, once you dig a little beneath the surface. There appears to be more of a party atmosphere in the Bad Seeds camp, and the songs sound a little looser and a little more frenetic for it. I would argue that the album doesn’t really contain many long standing Bad Seeds favorites, but what we do have is a very solid collection of songs, which all fit together quite nicely. Personally, I think this is a good album, if not a great one.

Standout tracks: Brother, My Cup Is Empty & Loom Of The Land.

Live Seeds (1993)

Who doesn’t love a good live album? I was in two minds whether or not to include the Bad Seeds live recordings in this retrospective, but they’re pretty much essential listening. This is a fantastic showcase of the bands best up to this point. Absolutely terrific renditions of The Mercy Seat, The Ship Song, Tupelo, The Weeping Song are the highlights for me, but every song is worth listening to. I read that the album only came about because Nick was unsatisfied with the production on Henry’s Dream, but I never noticed any issue with that. Regardless, the recordings on this album sound fantastic. Man, I wish I could have been there.

Standout tracks: The Ship Song, The Weeping Song & Jack The Ripper.

Nick Cave Retrospective – Part 2: Tender Pricks

I’m a Nick Cave fan who is listening to the entire back catalogue in release order during my drives to and from work so that I can better evaluate how I feel about the latest album, Ghosteen.


Thanks to Spotify, I’ve gone and got Your Funeral… My Trial and Kicking Against The Pricks the wrong way around, but never mind…

Kicking Against The Pricks (1986)

I’m not usually a fan of covers albums, but this is pretty good. The Bad Seeds versions are on the whole so wildly different from the original recordings that it makes for very interesting listening. I’m not familiar with all of the source material, but this is a great album regardless. Diversity is here in abundance, as Cave & Co. swerve from the cheesy lounge-pop crooning of Sleeping Annaleah to the menacing intensity of Hey Joe. The real highlight though is the epic, impenetrable wall of sound rendition of the Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Standout tracks: All Tomorrow’s Parties & By The Time I Get To Phoenix.

Tender Prey (1988)

The album gets off to such a strong start with a trilogy of some of the Bad Seeds finest, and doesn’t really let up with the excellent Mercy and City Of Refuge, but as you head towards the tail end of the record it does become apparent that Tender Prey is ever so slightly top heavy. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the final couple of tracks, and even Nick Cave album filler is worth listening to (although Sugar, Sugar, Sugar is entirely forgettable), but I personally feel like it just kind of drifts out without a bang, and the stronger tracks could have been a little more evenly dispersed.

Standout tracks: The Mercy Seat & Up Jumped The Devil.

Nick Cave Retrospective – Part 1: The First Three Albums

I’m a Nick Cave fan who is listening to the entire back catalogue in release order during my drives to and from work so that I can better evaluate how I feel about the latest album, Ghosteen.


From Her To Eternity (1984)

The first full album from the newly formed Bad Seeds carries over a lot of the more avant-garde, noisy post-punk sound from the earlier Birthday Party records, with most songs seeing a single idea or rhythm repeated over and over again. The music suffers from a slight lack of cohesion and compared against (even only slightly) later work there’s little reason, for me at least, to warrant repeated play. It’s an interesting starting point though, and the band are already beginning to carve their sound. Oh, and the end track is incredible. It evokes perfectly the feeling of a smokey, dirty jazz bar as Nick wails and mumbles his way through the epic tale of Black Paul.

Standout track: A Box For Black Paul.

The Firstborn Is Dead (1985)

What a difference a year makes! The second LP has much more well formed songs, and shows a clear evolution from the first record. Even 35 years later this stands up as some of the best work the Bad Seeds have ever produced. Truly a groundbreaking piece of work that solidified the foundation of their trademark sound for years to come. The twanging guitar, the half snarled, half spoken word lyrics are more poetry than anything else. Amazing album.

Standout tracks: Knockin’ On Joe & Wanted Man

Your Funeral… My Trial (1986)

The album brings the listener in relatively easily with the almost melancholic Sad Waters and the discordant storytelling of The Carny before the band really kick it up a gear and most of the remaining songs thunder on by with such a sense of urgency that there is barely time to pause for breath before the next low, rumbling bassline and drum roll comes crashing through the speakers. The album finisher, Long Time Man stands up alongside the very best songs the band has ever written recorded. (Update: Since writing this, I’ve learned that Long Time Man is not actually a Bad Seeds original. Regardless, it’s a fantastic version of the song!) The entire album has such a sound that it wouldn’t sound out of place as some sort of neo-Western film soundtrack, with Cave playing the black clad cowboy, roaming the wilderness. Outstanding stuff.

Standout tracks: Jack’s Shadow & Long Time Man

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – A Full Retrospective


I’ve been a fan of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for a long time. It started in 1996 with Murder Ballards, an album I bought through a simple misunderstanding.

As a huge fan of the UK 80s goth scene, I’d been listening to bands like Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim and The Mission for years, and when I saw an article which described Nick Cave as ‘the gothic prince’ I immediately went out and bought the latest album.

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that The Bad Seeds sounded precisely nothing whatsoever like the bands I’d been listening to. That initial disappointment, however, soon gave way to something else. The album was fantastic. A real mix of blues, poetic storytelling and almost funeral dirge. Listening to Stagger Lee on repeat I soon declared myself a fan.

Years went by and I’d pick up the latest albums, some of them were great and some I never really gave a chance. See, I’d never really have described myself as a ‘hardcore’ fan. I’ve not travelled the world to see him play, and there are albums in this sizeable back catalogue that I’ve honestly only ever listened to once. There are some I’ve never even listened to all the way through, especially the older stuff.

I’ve seen Nick Cave play live once. My 29th birthday, in a tiny venue in Birmingham, UK. It was a tremendously powerful performance, Cave owns any stage he ventures on to, and the energy coming from him is electric. He’s a true performer.

Now, you may or may not be aware that last week Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds released their 17th full length studio album, Ghosteen. It’s been released to almost universal critical praise in the music press, but fan reaction has been mixed to say the least. Personally, I thought it was a good album, but it wasn’t the album I was hoping for.

Then I got to thinking – how does this album fit within the entire body of work. Then I got to thinking about all those albums I’d forgotten about, or never gave a fair chance. Hmmm. I’ve got an idea.

I currently have a commute of around an hour. That’s two hours every day I have completely to myself. What if I listened to the entire Bad Seeds back catalogue, in order, over the next few weeks? One album on the way to work, and then again on the way back. There are a few reasons for listening to each album at least twice. Firstly, the times of day and my mood whilst listening will be totally different for the two journeys, and it’ll also give the album a real chance of sinking in properly. Then, and only then, could I give Ghosteen a fair reappraisal.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’ve done the first couple of albums already, and it’s been very interesting. I’ll be posting updates along the way, and it would be amazing if anyone has any thoughts or comments on the albums as they’re posted.

Watch this space!

A Study In Emerald by Neil Gaiman

A Study In Emerald by Neil Gaiman, Dark Horse 2018.

This comic book retelling of a short story originally published in 2003 is one that I have been looking forward to ever since it was announced a while back. Adapted from Gaiman’s original prose by Rafael Scavone and expertly drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, the presentation of this volume never falls short of astounding.

The story regards two men – one an injured in battle military veteren, and the other a brilliant detective – attempting to solve the most gruesome of murders. And that’s where I’ll leave the plot, because, you know, spoilers. The writing is excellent throughout, although I would expect nothing less from anything stemming from one of Gaiman’s stories, and the artwork is exemplary.

But the story… It has so much potential, and whilst it is fascinating to watch the detective explain his thought process, there is not nearly enough of it. As a reader – and a huge fan of Neil Gaiman – I was left disappointed, cold and frustrated by the story’s anti-climax. This felt like the first part of a much larger work, except it isn’t. This is the beginning, middle and end, and I wanted more. At a mere 80 pages or so, perhaps I was a little foolish in expecting one of the grand tales that are Gaiman’s bread and butter, but that I did.

Ultimately, this is an interesting short story, but nothing more. It draws upon Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, but never really goes anywhere with it. This is a hard one to recommend, although I do – with reservations. It’s one for the fans who need everything with Neil’s name on it, but a casual comic book fan will probably be left feeling a little cheated.

Neil Gaiman – A Study In Emerald – 2.5 Stars