NICK CAVE HEARD THEM HERE FIRST.
NICK CAVE HEARD THEM HERE FIRST.
For the fourth volume in Ace Records’ Heard Them Here First series, the latest artist in the spotlight is shawn on Australian troubadour, Nick Cave. On Nick Cave Heard Them Here First, there’s twenty-two tracks that have influenced the career of Nick Cave. His career began over thirty hers ago, when he was the lead singer of Australian band The Birthday Party.
It was in 1978, just after the birth of punk rock, that The Boys Next Door were formed at Caulfield Grammar School, Melbourne. The Boys Next Door had been influenced by punk. So, it was no surprise that their music was a mixture of punk and proto punk. Before long, The Boys Next Door sound changed.
They began combining blues, free jazz, punk and rockabilly. Often, the music defied categorisation. This didn’t seem to matter. By then, The Boys Next Door had established a reputation as one of Melbourne’s best bands. However, after playing hundreds of live shows, The Boys Next Door decided to move to Britain in 1980. That’s when The Boys Next Door changed their name to The Birthday Party.
Having moved to London in 1980, The Birthday Party set about establishing themselves. It didn’t take long. After a year, The Birthday Party had released their debut album Prayers On Fire. A year later, in 1982, they released another two albums 1982, Junkyard and The Birthday Party. However, by then, things were pretty chaotic within The Birthday Party.
Drummer Phil Calvert was thrown out The Birthday Party in 1982. Things came to a head when Phil struggled to lay down the beats to Dead Joe. So, guitarist Mick Harvey became The Birthday Party’s new guitarist. Then Tracy Pew was jailed for drink driving and theft. To make matters worse, Shivers, The Birthday Party’s most popular song was banned from the radio. Could things get any worse? They did.
By 1983, Nick Cave and Rowland S. Howard weren’t getting on. It seemed inevitable that things would come to a head. They did. Many expected either Nick or Rowland to leave the band. Instead, Mick Harvey was first to leave. This couldn’t have happened at a worst time.
The Birthday Party were about to head out on tour. So, Des Hefner was drafted in to play the drums. After the tour, The Birthday Party split-up, and Nick Cave formed his own band, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
After The Birthday Party disbanded, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld, the former Einstürzende Neubauten guitarist, founded Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. This was the band that established Nick Cave’s reputation.
Success didn’t come overnight for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It very rarely does. Their 1984 debut album From Her To Eternity, to reached just number forty in the British album charts. However, it would be another eight years and six albums before Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds reached the same heights.
By then, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ lineup had changed. So had the group’s sound. It had evolved from the group’s early years. Now, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were about to become one of the most successful indie bands.
Henry’s Dream, released in 1992, was a landmark album for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It reached number twenty-nine in the British album charts. This was their first album to reach the top thirty in Britain. It wouldn’t be the last.
After Henry’s Dream, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds could do no wrong. 1994s Let Love In reached number twelve in the British album charts. Then 1995s Murder Ballads reached number eight in the British album charts. The icing on the cake was when Murder Ballads became Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds most successful album in Australia, reaching number three.
Two years later, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds returned in 1997 with The Boatman’s Call. Critics hailed it one of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ finest albums. Despite this, it stalled at number twenty-two in Britain. However, it reached number 155 in the US Billboard 200. After fourteen years, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were enjoying commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. This would continue for the next sixteen years.
Four years passed before Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released their eleventh album, No More Shall We Part. Nick Cave had been through the wars. He managed to overcome heavy heroin and alcohol addictions. What’s more No More Shall We Part was released to critical acclaim, reaching number fifteen in Britain and number 180 in the US Billboard 200. Nick Cave has back, and back to his very best.
When Nocturama was released in 2003, it didn’t received the same critically acclaimed reviews. Instead, the reviews of Nocturama were mixed. Mostly, though, they were favourable. Nocturama reached number twenty in Britain and number 180 in the US Billboard 200. This was slightly disappointing. However, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus marked a return to form from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus was released in September 2004. It was one of the most ambitious albums of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Seventeen tracks featured on this ambitious double album. When critics heard Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, they hailed it one of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ finest albums. So, it was no surprise that Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus reached number eleven in Britain and number 126 in the US Billboard 200. This was, however, the start of the most successful period of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ career.
Nearly another four years passed before Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! It had taken just five days to record. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! was an old school album. With its fusion of garage rock and alternative rock, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! won over critics and record buyers. Critical acclaim accompanied the release of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, which reached number four in Britain and number sixty-four in the US Billboard 200. However, the best was still to come.
Push the Sky Away was the fifteenth studio album by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It was released in February 2013, and was a landmark album. This was the first album not to feature Mick Harvey. He had picked the wrong time to leave the band.
Thirty years after Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were first formed, they enjoyed the most successful album of their career. Critical acclaim accompanied Push the Sky Away’s release. There were no dissenting voices. Push the Sky Away reached number three in Britain and number twenty-nine in the US Billboard 200. Elsewhere, Push the Sky Away reached number one in Australia, Denmark, Holland and Norway. After thirty years hard work and persistence, Nick Cave was one of the most of the most successful artists of the indie era.
No wonder. Over the past thirty years, Nick Cave has refused to stand still. His music has been constantly changing. Through his music continuing to evolve, Nick Cave has continued to stay relevant. He realised that an artist that stands still, risks becoming irrelevant. Nick Cave, just like the artists who influenced him, has refused to stand still. He’s constantly influenced himself since his early days with The Birthday Party and then Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. However, who are the artists who have influenced Nick Cave?
Nick Cave Heard Them Here First is a twenty-two track compilation. It was recently released by Ace Records, and is a truly eclectic compilation. The Stooges, Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, Gene Pitney, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Blind Willie Johnson and John Lee Hooker. Quite simply, Nick Cave Heard Them Here First is crammed full or quality music. Choosing some of the highlights isn’t going to be easy, but here goes.
Opening Nick Cave Heard Them Here First is The Stooges’ Fun House. The Stooges were formed by Iggy Pop in Michigan, in 1967. Two years later, they released their eponymous debut album in 1969. It featured the classic single I Wanna Be Your Dog. The Stooges 1970 sophomore album Fun House, features another Stooges’ classic, Fun House. It’s a blistering fusion of rock ’n’ roll and proto punk, which would provide the template for punk.
During the sixties, Nina Simone was one of the most prolific recording artists. In 1964, Nina released five albums. Then in 1965, she released another three albums, including I Put A Spell On You. One of Nina’s finest performances is on I Put A Spell On You. It’s a truly spellbinding performance, where Nina combines soul and jazz, during this vocal masterclass.
Bn 1979, Johnny Cash was already veteran of country music. However, he hadn’t lost his Midas touch. He released a new album Silver during 1979. One of its highlight was an understated and poignant ballad, Muddy Waters. It was later covered by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds on their 1986 album Kick Against The Pricks. This was their homage to Johnny Cash, the man in black.
As the sixties took shape, Gene Pitney was enjoying a successful career as a singer and songwriter. He enjoyed a string of hit singles, including of Gene’s best known songs, Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart. This was a Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway composition. It was produced by Stanley Kahan, and released in 1967, on the Stateside label. Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart reached number five in Britain, and is new regarded as a timeless classic.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band are without doubt, one of the most underrated bands of the seventies. Lead by the charismatic Glaswegian, Alex Harvey, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band released a string of successful albums. This included Hammer Song, a track from Framed, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s 1972 debut album. It’s one The Sensational Alex Harvey Band best albums. Hammer Song, an Alex Harvey composition, features what can only be described as a vocal powerhouse. It’s a tantalising taste of what the inimitable Alex Harvey was capable of.
Leonard Cohen has influenced several generations of musicians, including Nick Cave. One of Nick’s favourite Leonard Cohen track is Tower Of Song. This is a track from Leonard’s 1988 album I’m Your Man. On I’m Your Man, Leonard Cohen reinvented himself. He incorporated synths into the understated arrangements. However, on Tower Of Song, it’s mostly Leonard and female backing vocalists that play their part in this beautiful, understated, ballad.
Maverick and innovator. They’re two words that described the late, great, Serge Gainsbourg. In 1969, he collaborated with Jane Birkin. Their album Jane Birkin Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin featured one of the greatest tracks Serge wrote and recorded, Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus. Despite the controversy that surrounded its release, forty-six years later, Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus is now regarded as a classic from one of music’s true innovators.
There can’t be many artists who haven’t been influenced by Bob Dylan. In 1988, twenty-six years after he released his eponymous debut in 1962, Bob Dylan was continuing to reinvent himself. He was like a musical chameleon, having released folk, rock, country and gospel albums. Down In The Groove was Bob Dylan’s twenty-fifth album. Commercially, it was a disappointing album, stalling at number sixty-one in the US Billboard 200, and number thirty-two in Britain. Critics weren’t impressed with Down In The Groove. Rolling Stone went as far as to describe Down In The Groove, as Bob Dylan’s worst album. One of the album’s highlight was the poignant Death Is Not The End.
The word legend is used far to often. However, in Hank Williams’ case, it’s the only way to describe one of the greatest country singers. That’s despite Hank Williams dying aged just twenty-nine. Hank Williams packed a lot of living into his short life. He was born on September 17th 1923, in Mount Olive, Alabama. By the time he was twenty-four, Hank released his debut single Hey Good Lookin’ in 1947. Then in 1949, Hank Williams recorded a track that’s become synonymous with him, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. Sadly, on New Year’s Day 1953, Hank Williams was found dead in the back of his car. That day, country music lost one of its legends.
J.B. Lenoir and His African Hunch Rhythm recorded I Feel So Good in 1963. I Feel Good has been recorded by a number of artists, including bluesmen like Skip James and Blind Willie Johnson. However, J.B. Lenoir and His African Hunch Rhythm’s version of I Feel So Good is one of the best. No wonder. Producing it was produced in Chicago, by producer, singer and songwriter, Willie Dixon. With his help, J.B. Lenoir and His African Hunch Rhythm breath life and meaning into I Feel So Good.
The blues influenced Nick Cave. That was apparent in the early days of The Birthday Party. One of Nick’s favourite bluesmen was Blind Willie Johnson. However, Blind Willie Johnson wasn’t just a bluesman. He also sung gospel. When Blind Willie Johnson released John The Revelator as a single 1930. On John The Revelator, Blind Willie Johnson combines gospel and blues. This was one of ten singles Blind Willie Johnson released on Columbia between 1927 and 1931.
Closing Nick Cave Heard It Hear First, is John Lee Hooker’s Burnin’ Hell. It was penned by John Lee Hooker and released as a single in 1949. By then, John Lee Hooker was already thirty-two. His recording career had only started a year earlier, in 1948. John Lee Hooker’s debut single was Sally May. A year later, John Lee Hooker was spreading about the Mississippi born guitarist and singer. The man with the unmistakable voice, many said, was going places. That proved to be the case. Not only did John Lee Hooker become one of the biggest names in blues music, but he enjoyed an almost unrivalled longevity.
Most compilations I review, feature just one type of music. This means that they’ll only appeal to someone interested in that type of music. That’s not the case with Nick Cave Heard It Here First, which was recently released by Ace Records. It’s a truly eclectic compilation.
No wonder. There’s everything from blues, country, jazz, pop, proto punk, rock, rock ’n’ roll and soul on Nick Cave Heard It Here First. With The Stooges, Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, Gene Pitney, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Blind Willie Johnson and John Lee Hooker all featuring on Nick Cave Heard It Here First it’s akin to a musical adventure. It’s also like being able to look through Nick Cave’s record collection.
Each and every one of the tracks on Nick Cave Heard It Here First means something to Nick Cave. They’re among his favourite tracks. That’s not all. Every one of the twenty-two tracks have been covered by Nick Cave during his career. Often, he’s reinvented the tracks, transforming them into something very different. However, on Nick Cave Heard It Here First, Nick shares the original versions of these tracks. Some of the tracks are classics, others album tracks and others fall into the category of hidden gems. They all have one thing in common, their quality.
That’s why Nick Cave Heard It Here First is the best volume in the series so far. I thought it would be hard to beat Bowie Heard Them Here First. However, Nick Cave Heard It Here First manages to do so. There’s a reason for this. Much of the music is influential and innovative. It has influenced several generations of musicians, including Nick Cave. However, other artists aren’t so well known.
Many people won’t have heard of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Tim Rose, J.B. Lenoir and His African Hunch Rhythm or Blind Willie Johnson. They do now. Hopefully, their inclusion on Nick Cave Heard It Here First will inspire people to go out and buy albums by these artists. If they do, then Nick Cave Heard It Here First will be the start of a musical journey of exploration. On that journey, you’ll discover albums you’v never heard before. These albums are a treasure trove of ambitious, groundbreaking, innovative, inventive and influential music.
The music on Nick Cave Heard It Here First certainly inspired Nick Cave. With The Birthday Party and then Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave created music that was groundbreaking. It was inspired by the music on Nick Cave Heard It Here First.
NICK CAVE HEARD THEM HERE FIRST.