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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Rock/Pop

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

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Songs of faith, murder, love and death that veer from darkly melodic to furiously cathartic

When raucous Aussie post-punks The Birthday Party split in 1983, frontman Nick Cave wasted no time in assembling a new group, The Bad Seeds, consisting of his former Birthday Party bandmate Mick Harvey, Barry Adamson of Magazine and Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten. Their debut, 1984’s From Her To Eternity introduced the world to Cave’s new vision, more sombre and reserved in execution than his previous band but no less menacing.

The Firstborn Is Dead and covers album Kicking Against The Pricks (the first with Thomas Wylder on drums) solidified Cave’s reputation, particularly in England. Your Funeral… My Trial followed in 1987 with Cave hitting his first creative high point with 1988’s superb Tender Prey, featuring one of his greatest compositions, The Mercy Seat.

Cave freed himself from a heroin addiction in the late ’80s and immersed himself in his work, acting (Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead), writing a novel (And The Ass Saw The Angel) and returning to studio albums with 1990’s The Good Son. Martyn Casey and Conway Savage joined the band for Henry’s Dream which yielded the furious Papa Won’t Leave You Henry and two of Cave’s most romantic songs Straight To You and Loom Of The Land.

Let Love In demonstrated that the band were still only growing in prowess, hitting nightmarish peaks on Red Right Hand and Loverman, while still showing the romantic counterbalance with Nobody’s Baby Now. It also marked the debut of Warren Ellis, who would go on to become one of Cave’s most valuable collaborators across The Bad Seeds, Grinderman and numerous soundtracks.

In 1996, the band channelled their bloodlust and menace into the superb Murder Ballads, scoring a hit with Where The Wild Roses Grow, featuring Kylie Minogue. It was around this time that Jim Sclavunos joined, another integral member of the hugely talented Bad Seeds gang.

Cave and The Bad Seeds quietened down for the considerably more sedate and introspective The Boatman’s Call, which found Nick Cave filled with doubt about religion and romance in equal measure. It was a massive critical success, particularly the darkly romantic Into Your Arms, which Cave performed at the funeral of his friend, Michael Hutchence.

The band’s astounding work rate continued through the ’00s, with No More Shall We Part, Nocturama and the double album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus all arriving between 2001 and 2004. After a four-year gap, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds returned with Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! an album whose raucous spirit was inspired by Cave, Ellis, Casey and Sclavunous’s extra-curricular activities in the band Grinderman.

Casey left the band in 2009 and another long gap followed before the band delivered the far more subdued and atmospheric Push The Sky Away in 2013, followed by the similarly minded Skeleton Tree in 2016, an album overshadowed by the tragic death of Cave’s son Arthur during its creation. Conway Savage died in 2018 from a brain tumour and the band’s 2019 Ghosteen album was dedicated to him.