Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Nick Cave is the consummate artist. Although he has changed considerably throughout his career, he has retained a singular vision his (post)punk contemporaries have lacked. In many ways, his music leans on the folk genre for ideas and subject matter. By the term “folk,” I do not mean artists like Peter, Paul and Mary, but instead the historical music that stems from artists such as Dock Boggs or Uncle Dave Mason. A genre of music that bears witness to a netherworld of violence and cruelty, with a religious sensibility underlying it all. A genre of music no less a practitioner as Bob Dylan (in Greil Marcus’s book, Invisible Republic) characterized as: … the main body of it is just based on myth and the Bible and plague and famine and all kinds of things like that which are nothing but mystery and you can see it in all the songs. Roses growing out of people’s hearts and naked cats in bed with spears growing right up out of their backs and seven years of this and eight years of that and it’s all really something nobody can really touch (30).
A characterization that easily applies to Cave’s music. In this latest release, a greatest hits package, we are treated to the assorted characters that populate Cave’s dark world. There is the “Carny,” noticeable for his absence; the stranger with a “Red Right Hand;” the call and response between a father and his son that constitutes “The Weeping Song.” In addition, we witness the confessions of the murderer about to be placed on “The Mercy Seat” and the shrieks of the obsessive on “From Her to Eternity.” However, this disc is not by any means aimed at newcomers. Longtime fans will be rewarded if they search out the import version, which comes with a bonus disc of live material recorded last year at the Royal Albert Hall. Since Cave has virtually given up touring this side of the Atlantic, this is the closest thing one can hope to experience of live, new material. Mute Records, 140 W. 22nd Street, Ste. 10A, New York, NY 10011