John Peel Sessions CD
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Catalogue number SFRSCD098 on the Strange Fruit label with the following tracks: 1> Cry [2:57], 2> Yard [4:28], 3> Figure Of Fun [2:19], 4> King Ink [4:09], 5> Release The Bats [2:34], 6> Roland Around In That Stuff [3:29], 7> (Sometimes) Pleasure Heads Must Burn [2:35], 8> Loose [3:36], 9> Big Jesus Trash Can [3:04], 10> She's Hit [5:41], 11> Bully Bones [2:45], 12> Six Inch Gold Blade [3:38], 13> Pleasure Avalanche [4:13], 14> Deep In The Woods [4:40], 15> Sonny's Burning [2:58], 16> Marry Me (Lie! Lie!) [3:52].
It's often been bemoaned that The Birthday Party, Nick Cave's post Punk outfit, never managed to capture on record the confrontational frenzy of their live performances. So these four sessions, recorded between September 1980 and November 1982, with the band under severe time-pressure on each occasion, arguably form the most accurate portrayal of them ever released. The 16 tracks include most of their finest--"She's Hit", "Big Jesus Trash Can", "King Ink"--all with that simple, portentous bass and Rowland Howard's vicious stabs of reverberating guitar. The juddering rockabilly of "Release The Bats" which, much to Cave's disgust, became an anthem for goths worldwide, is also featured, along with the seldom-heard Marry Me (Lie! Lie!) and a churning cover of The Stooges' Loose. As the tracks (and the years) pass, you can see Cave's progression towards sombre murder-balladeering (in particular with "Deep In The Woods"). And--perhaps more importantly as it's so seldom mentioned--there is undeniable evidence that he was a tremendously funny man from the off. "Even my dog kicks me!" he howls during "Figure Of Fun". A must-have for all lovers of punk, as well as aficionados of bleak humour. --Dominic Wills
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In between, the album ranges from an aftershock Pop Group splinter in the thumb, growing into a full thorn in the flesh, of the poison arrow. A cacophony of noise is all held together by bass and drums carving out a deep groove near the main Nick Cave artery. All of this keeps it solid, whilst the guitar and vocals are wheeled in for a Section 3 of the Mental Health Act enactment. Both summon inner voices whilst waiting in the wings, as sedation sits in a white coat. The album consists of the sounds of a house collapsing through the floors, as foundations eventually buckle an the roof drops in.
Waves of burning angst flow towards the southern muddy waters. The blues, derived from the bitter black appearance occurs as a soul healer. Johnny Lee Hooker calls into the only liquor store that serves a "coloured" in 1952 Tupelo, asking for one whisky, one bourbon, one beer. Toppling over the tappings of Blind Lemon Jefferson who's jigging to the slide of Robert Johnson, who is on bended knee in summoning the deville to enter his head. Clasping nature to his bosom, immersed "Deep in the Woods," then crying himself to sleep with rage in "Sonny's Burning" Nick roars his bile.
Also held here with guns to their heads, are two unreleased tracks, mingling with alternate low fi hi fi takes, nearer to the raw meat of the band alive. The price, has gone back through the roof, but hey it's worth more than the fey wimp aesthetes that became the staple pickings of middle brow journos during the 81-83 musical period. This holds a mirror to the pastiche.
Held in the vaults of the BBC, when it was worth licence fee alone to listen to late night radio and be transported to other sonic worlds, this can be yours for your sanity.
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The other songs follow in a similar vein, just not as perfect. The swinging tempos and cacophonous instrument eruptions in songs like "Big Jesus Trash Can," "(Sometimes) Pleasure Heads Must Burn," and "Figure Of Fun" kick up a huge, filthy, dark, ungodly racket that pleases your brain with it's creativity just as much as they beat your eardrums into a messy, unrecognizable pulp. Cave is the only guy who could've ever sang lead for this music, roaring like a deranged serial killer whose victim has just made a narrow escape, bloodstains all over his shirt and face. And if all that's not great enough, the BBC production gives the songs a very raw, live feel while simultaneously keeping the overall sound crisp and mean.
If you're a fan, you should already own this. If not, give it a chance. It might sound like the band's just thrashing about like they've never touched instruments in their lives at first, but the closer you listen, the more their style makes sense. They do know what they're doing. It's just that "what they're doing" is a completely different approach from any band before, from, or after it's time. Anyone that considers themselves a fan of innovative post-punk needs this.