Artist – Album: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads
Released: 5th February 1996
Sounds Like: It should be Tim Burton’s desert island disc
From his sinister work with previous band goth-rockers The Birthday Party to the epic and brilliant march to the electric chair ‘The Mercy Seat’, Nick Cave always seems to have had a morbid fascination with death and violence. So it was hardly surprising that he would eventually take a stab (pun totally intended) at an album exclusively devoted to murder ballads.
A collection of traditional and gothic original compositions, Cave imbues each track with his trademark wit and theatricality. He’s joined by PJ Harvey on the lovely ‘Henry Lee’ and, surprisingly, by Kylie Minogue on ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’, the haunting dialogue played out by killer Cave and his victim Minogue. It was the album’s lead single and its arresting video got plenty of airplay on MTV, which is mental considering its subject and uniqueness
Elsewhere, ‘Stagger Lee’ is an ultra-violent retelling of the famous murder ballad, as far removed from the Lloyd Price take on the tune as can be. ‘The Curse of Millhaven’ is the darkly funny tale of psychotic Lottie, who kills because “all God’s children they all gotta die”. And the set finishes on Dylan cover ‘Death Is Not the End’, the only song in which Cave is not in character and one which appears as consolation for the many deaths over the last hour.
A killer album (again, pun intended).
Albumaday... rating: 7/10
1. Song of Joy – 6:47
2. Stagger Lee – 5:15
3. Henry Lee – 3:58
4. Lovely Creature – 4:13
5. Where the Wild Roses Grow – 3:57
6. The Curse of Millhaven – 6:55
7. The Kindness of Strangers – 4:39
8. Crow Jane – 4:14
9. O’Malley’s Bar – 14:28
10. Death Is Not the End – 4:26
Listen to ‘Stagger Lee’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbe5RERDh4k