The Birthday Party progressed from their Boys Next Door roots, through their relocation to London from Australia- and exposure to such bands as The Pop Group & The Fall. Their initial releases were patchy in parts- but their were many classics ('Mr Clarinet'; 'Figure of Fun'; 'The Friend Catcher'; 'Nick the Stripper'). Portent of what to come...
The classic, if pigeonholing single, 'Blast off'/'Release the Bats' bookends this reissue. The former is a Roland S. Howard slab of violent noise- possibly more raucous than The Stooges (forget The Strokes!). 'Release the Bats' might have been an ironic piss-take of The Cramps; the word 'gothic' would now be used in connection with Cave et al (which they sometimes deseerved!). 'She's Hit' is a mellow, cruel opener; Mick Harvey's drums grating like the misogynist lyrics. 'Dead Joe' crashes out of the gloom, co-written with Anita Lane, we are given another car crash classic a la Bowie or The Normal (via JG Ballard). Though Cave's father died in such a way; so this is an important song. The 2nd version is even nastier!(& features Magazine's Barry Adamson- as Tracy Pew was incarcerated). Howard's 'Dim Locator' is great- there is a popsong hidden here; likewise his 'Several Sins'- which is closer to his work with Crime & The City Solution & These Immortal Souls. 'Hamlet' is a re-casting of the vengeful Danish Prince to a Faulkneresque white trash ghetto (very 'And the Ass saw the Angel'). Mick Harvey's switch to drums (replacing Phill Calvert) moves The BP's sound closer to the final e.p.'s. 'Big Jesus Trash Can'predicts later songs such as 'Fears of Gun' & 'Swampland'. The nastiest blues, with the nastiest feedback. The Birthday Party sound like they're on fire...'Kiss Me Black' is a bit duff, more 'A Dead Song' than 'Dead Joe'; while 'Kewpie Doll' is a little cliched (& would be pilfered by Babes in Toyland, Hole etc a few years later). '6" Gold Blade' is one of their best songs, moving towards 'Deep in the Woods' & 'From Her to Eternity'. It piddles over the re-hash of themes that is 'Murder Ballads'...The title track is great, as evil sounding as early Sonic Youth or Swans (though the live take on the recent live album is superior)...A classic album,as good as 'Funhouse'; their best work would come on 'Mutiny'/'The Bad Seed'. And then they were gone...Oh, and Tracy Pew was the best bassist ever.
on 24 October 2012
4AD have re-issued JunkYard in a special vinyl edition. Apart from the 12" LP, the package also contains a bonus 7" of the single 'Release The Bats' and 'Blast Off'. Additionally it includes a CD of all 12 tracks, so that buyers can also access the music digitally. The album has been mastered from the Henry Rollins 2000 re-master, previously unavailable in Europe (see Mick Harvey's comments below) while the single is a new, 2012 master taken from the original studio analogue tapes.
Mick Harvey (The Birthday Party) interviewed for The Quietus
I think it's a great record, really. We did some weird things with the way we put it together and mastered it: we put the songs really close together so there were hardly any gaps; we put loads of treble on it and that crazy cover which I've never really liked. I'm sure it's a great cover but I'm not sure it represents the album all that well. But the actual contents of the album are really amazing and they're a very special set of recordings and that's what really stands up; most people don't look at the cover these days, they just play the music. Henry Rollins did a re-master of it and made the songs have longer gaps between them. There are re-mastered versions of it here in Australia that make it sound a bit more normal and probably more powerful and less of that messing with people's heads. In the end it's down to the songs and it's pretty strong material.
And more reviews...
The Party's second and final full studio album was perhaps its scuzzy masterpiece, its art / psych / blues / punk fusion taken to at times outrageous heights. Ned Raggett - [...]
Blazing hard and blindingly bright, The Birthday Party were a magnesium strip of rock & roll intensity destined to burn out rather than hang around for the long haul and in Junkyard the band achieved its high watermark as a quintet. - Julian Marszalek, The Quietus - 30 April 2012
on 14 September 2008
Simply from looking at the cover art of Junkyard, you can make a fairly accurate prediction of what this album is about. Ed Roth's depiction of (presumably) the slobbering star of track seven (by count of this CD's track-listing) with his famous character Rat Fink spraying a cat with buckshot. The screeching tyres on the trash can car in particular give foresight as to how aggressive, dark and unrelenting this music is.
The thing that gives this an edge over the Birthday Party's previous release, Prayers on Fire, is the way the production is optimised for being played as loud as possible; this makes it easier to appreciate all the neat things the musicians are doing whilst enhancing the mood of the songs. 4AD were right in book-ending this with the "Blast Off"/"Release the Bats" single, as "Blast Off" in particular stands as a better opener than "She's Hit," starting the album off at a higher pace, but the inclusion of a second version of "Dead Joe" seems irrelevant and pointless to me. Pretty good for an outtake, mind.
My personal favourite on here would have to "Big Jesus Trash Can," which stands as one of the ultimate avant-rockers ever written; Captain Beefheart updated for post-punk and goth. A close second is the title track - Nick screams his lungs out over a pulsating bass line until the song climax reminiscent of the Velvets. "Hamlet (Pow Pow Pow)" may not be the best song on the album, but the Jaws-inspired bass line and Nick's wail of "WHERE FOR ART THOU, BABY FACE?!" make it absolutely worth it just to hear Nick go full out psychotic.
There are however, a couple of relatively weaker tracks, the first of which, "Kewpie Doll," seems to do very little for three and a half minutes. It's not bad, but it weakens the album. The other weak one is the second version of "Dead Joe," but even that has its charms.
I see Junkyard as a landmark of both avant-rock, gothic rock and post-punk, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to expand their horizons. It's an intense album though, so don't be surprised if you have to give it a few listens before the shock wears off and you start to enjoy it.
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth cover finally put an undergound art movement on the map and kicked off a new stylistic revolution, way back in 1982; lowbrow. Whilst serious paint splatterers were dripping their inks over the art world in the 50's/60's, gaining backslaps across Western galleries, customisers, the true frontiersmen artists, remained ignored and neglected. Traditionally "uneducated" in the artistic canon, stretching back to the big fellow being; nailed, stewed and screwed, they concentrated on the artefacts of the present. This underground movement, grew in response to the drippers.
The cover of the Gasser riding in his rod across the stage, was a resurrection of proto punk art.
Inside the grooves, Nick brushes aside the red velvet curtains to introduce a world of violent early 80's abandon, a world without personal limits. Led to a seeping wailing jazz noir world consisting of deep non law abiding obsessions. Each seemingly grounded on a sexual release coupled to a little bit of psychic death. Lyrically he provides a glass panel view gape into a world of distorted pain. So along with the vision was another musical backdrop spinning with anarchistic twirling fragments of guitar supplied by Rowland. All was smothered in shards of 10mls of sucked up blood ...as he provides a welcome flashing light to the JG Ballard rubberneck, head swivelled to the eternal car crash; Dead Joe.
Talcum powdered notions of prone beauty are a preening preoccupation within the lyrics such as She's Hit. It all ends in a purple lined coffin brimming over with eternal feelings of love, power and loss already mouldering, with a 12 inch gold blade. As the necrophiliac life stare gazes outwardly, the body is bathed in a sense of swirling nihilism. Come on and kiss me black.
So with Kewpie Doll no traditional love song rears its head as the bass plays heavy and pounding keeping together a structure linked to drums splattering in 3/3, 3/4 whilst the guitars create a trebled wall of Funhouse noise. Meanwhile the vocals are shrieked into a blast furnace, a bellow into a personal oblivion whilst having a grand mal seizure. At the time it was heavily influenced by the Pop Group, in sensibility. Live it was gazing into a mental health ward as the nursing staff went into their own chronic withdrawals in sympathy with the patients.
Nick scooped up the 80's zeitgeist and dumped it into his litter bin, hand cranked it and then recycled the remnants to offend the very fragile. Stepping up he nailed it all onto a very high, angry and cross formed image of chaotic beauty. This is heavy mental mined from deep within, not the air guitar pomp of teen preen hand strokers.
on 30 July 2006
1. Blast Off 8/10 - Perfect starting song, gives you a good idea of the style of the album.
2. She's Hit 9/10 - Throbbing, sexual, grinding, gets you real, real down...
3. Dead Joe 9/10 - A car crash is turned into a frantic, fast pile up of noise and percussion.
4. The Dim Locator 9/10 - Starts off calm and almost melodic, but, halfway through, the guitars fracture and everything explodes.
5. Hamlet (Pow, Pow, Pow) 7/10 - A bit bland, but contains the classic "WHERE FOR ART THOU, BABYFACE?!"
6. Several Sins - 8/10 - More Bad Seeds-esque. Tense and melodic.
7. Big-Jesus-Trash-Can 10/10 - Rabid psychosis meets with a halting crashing of drums. Classic.
8. Kiss Me Black 9/10 - Featuring the most powerful bass playing this side of the Swans mixed with Nick spouting gibberish.
9. 6" Gold Blade 10/10 - Slow, quiet and tense, until the last verse when Nick begins his unforgettable shrieks of "SHAAAKE!!! SHAAAKE!!!"
10. Kewpie Doll 6/10 - Bland song. Not bad, but not memorable.
11. Junkyard 10/10 - Best song on album. Nick screams, chants and whispers over a throbbing bass line, building into a Velvet Underground-esque climax.
12. Dead Joe (2nd version) 10/10 - Faster and more deranged than the 1st version, with an added car crash sample to get the point across.
13. Release the Bats 10/10 - The Party's biggest hit. An S&M goth classic.
on 31 May 2015
Remastered so not quite as storming as the original vinyl. Great album all the same.
on 3 February 2012
It`s strange how the Birthday Party got better and better with each album. Usually a band makes a classic debut album and their albums after that are never as good. Starting from the Boys Next Door in 1979, their debut album and the Birthday Party`s albums up to 1981 were not good. Occasionally they had one or two good songs on early albums such as "Shivers" on the Boys Next Door debut album and "Nick The Stripper" on Prayers On Fire, but it wasn`t until 1982 when Junkyard was released that they finally did an album where every song on it is a classic. This album`s brilliant and very original sounding. There`s something in it for almost every fan of non commercial music. There`s punk, goth, grunge (note: 5 years before Nirvana started) and even blues. Even the Birthday Party`s material after Junkyard (Mutiny, Release The Bats) was brilliant too, possibly not as good as Junkyard but still great. And it`s probably best that the Birthday Party split up when they did because Nick`s first solo album and his Bad Seeds stuff after that is all crap. I`m glad that the Birthday Party`s name is not associated with Bad Seeds music. So i think it`s best that the Birthday Party split up when they did in 1983. But, again, Nick Cave got better later on down the track when he did the band Grinderman. Grinderman are fantastic and if you like Junkyard/ Mutiny? Release The Bats era of the Birthday Party, then you`ll also love Grinderman. Try and track down the 2 Grinderman albums before they become hard to find. Unfortunately Grinderman just split up and, i know it won`t happen, but i now hope that Nick Cave reforms the Birthday Party (unfortunately Withoue Rowland Howard R.I.P) and dumps the Bad Seeds. If you only want one Birthday Party album then get this one.
on 9 June 2016
Love it! Dirty in the right way 😊
I saw Nick Cave and the Birthday Party twice - once at the Hammersmith Odeon and about six months later at St Albans. The first time I was amazed by the contrast between the performer and the man himself. I spoke to him briefly after the performance and he was cool, rational, and quite generous in his speech. Whatever you might object to, no-one who is a complete 'duh' can either write the songs, perform half so well, or even commission the cover art-
Nick was possibly doing quite a few tings during those complicated days, I remember that we were simply being students, we thought "release the bats" was an ideal replacement for the national anthem... When we saw Nick at St Albans later, in spite of the fact that we had talked before, he gave me one of his wild man "better dial for a coffin" look... But that was Nick the performer, I guess, and it was worth the price of the ticket alone...!
This music depicts quite well a period of what can now be seen as a burgeoning political nihilism in England - a period when there was something like an undocumented and unofficial civil war - and when most of the national life was in tremendous turmoil. I don't know, and its very hard to tell, whether Nick was depicting his own internal landscapes in this, or trying to reflect the times, but from this perspective, i.e., the "aftermath", its very tempting to categorise him as that kind of artist, possibly a sort of figure like those at the end of the Soviet period, desperately composing something that needs the most urgent expression.