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Murder Ballads
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 10 February 2014
I love this album. I wasn't a Nick Cave fan simply because I didn't really know his music until he duetted with Kylie Minogue. I then heard Henry Lee with PJ Harvey, and I decided to buy the album to hear more. And I'm glad I did.

This is a collection of breathtakingly original, genuinely spooky songs, each telling a story from beinning to end. Where The Wild Roses Grow, Death Is Not The End, Henry Lee are all brilliant, but then so is every track on this album. If you like original music that has something to say, this is an album for you.

Only, don't listen to it last thing at night. You may want to sleep with the lights on .........

Song Of Joy - despite the title, this is a harrowing tale of a doctor who turns up one night at a stranger's desolate house, asking if he will be given shelter for the night in payment for him telling the homeowner a tale of his life. He does not wait for an answer and launches into his story - how he married a young woman named Joy but soon after, she fell victim to a 'melancholy' that settled over the house, making her children as quiet as Church mice, almost as though Joyce could foresee her bloody end. One night the doctor came home from a house-call to find his wife and three children stabbed to death - the children still in their cots. Spookily, the doctor adds that they never caught the man responsible. Would you believe him - and would you let him stay the night??

Lovely Creature - this song is setting a man's worst nightmare to music. He takes a beautiful, well-dressed girl out for a walk, imagining that he takes her past the pyramids and all sorts of fanciful places, only to return home without her. He says he does not know where she has gone, but then he adds that she lies buried underground, still with the ribbons in her hair and green gloves upon her hands ........

Henry Lee - Probably the most twisted love story ever set to music. PJ Harvey's slightly flat, melancholy tones perfectly match Cave's - despite their actual ages, they are perfectly believable as a young couple thrown together by a chance meeting. Only she wants more than he can give her - and when he tells her he has a sweetheart back home, she stabs him 'through and through' with a penknife. "Lie there, lie there, little Henry Lee, til the flesh drops from your bones'. Who ever heard such a chilling line sung? "The girl you have in that merry green land can wait forever for you to come home," she adds viciously, before disposing of his body in a "deep, deep well that's more than one hundred feet."

Where The Wild Roses Grow - the most polished song on the album, but also one of the most charming. Nick Cave saw something in Kylie - the way she can keep on adapting and growing, her ability to allow other artistes to mould her into something new - and he knew that Kylie's sweet innocence would be ideal for the role of Eliza Day. She's the young romantic who falls for a man who gives her wild roses, then he kills her and lays her in the river next to those roses. He believes she is too beautiful to live. Eliza is singing her part of the duet from the grave - she wants the world to know that she had a name - Eliza Day - rather than the sensationalist tag "The Wild Rose". You can just imagine the newspapers coming up with that sort of moniker for the murdered girl.

The Curse of Millhaven - a bawdy romp through the murderous antics of Loretta ("I prefer Lottie") who sits at the interview table, restrained by a strait-jacket, her lips foaming as she gleefully recounts her killings - ("I'm a monster, I admit it!" Any song that can rhyme the phrase 'Rorshach Tests' is a winner with me. Classic lines - "Well, my hair ain't yellow and my eyes ain't green / it's more like the other way around!" and "If bad was a boot, I'd fit it."

Death Is Not The End - The Bad Seeds, Shane McGowan, Kylie, PJ Harvey, and Anita Lane join Nick Cave for a final, desperately hopeful sing-along. Death Is Not the End they say, and if Eliza Day can sing from beyond the grave, how can it be?

Stagger Lee - he knows he's the baddest guy in town and now he's going to make sure everyone else knows it too. He ignores the old prostitute trying to tempt him and instead turns his attentions to her pimp before killing him. It's like the lowest, meanest Western come to life ......

The Kindness of Strangers - this is a fantastic, excellent song. Young Mary Bellows leaves her home in Arkansas for the first time, to see the sea and spread her wings. She takes a train to a nameless town and, on said train, she meets a man "called Richard Slade" who she chats with on the journey. He even carries her suitcase to the door of her hotel room, but remembering her mother's advice, she tells him, "I'm a good girl, sir, she said to him / I couldn't possibly permit you in". So Slade, seeming to take this well, "tips his hat and winks his eye / and turned away without goodbye".

Alone in her room, Mary ponders on her new friendship, and begins to think her life may be more exciting if she took a few risks. So, "In hope and loneliness, she crossed the floor / and undid the latch on her front door." This is the worst thing she could have done, for Richard Slade, it turns out (if that is even his real name), wasn't that happy after all at being turned away earlier.

"They found Mary Bellows cuffed to the bed, with a rag in her mouth and a bullet in her head / O poor Mary Bellows" sings Cave, with all the macabre intonation of the sensationalist Victorian newspapers of the day. Mary echoes his last verse - warning others: "So mothers keep your girls at home / don't let them journey out alone \ tell them this world is full of danger \ to shun the company of strangers." Mary's crying can be heard as the song peters out. It's a genuinely haunting song - it greally makes your skin prickle.

How could you not love an album that not only contains such fantastic songs but, among the credits, details who did the 'screaming' and the 'crying' as well as who played what instrument. And on "The Curse of Millhaven", the Bad Seeds and Anita Lane among others join in on backing vocals as the "Moron Tabernacle Choir"!

Unfortunately, there's one song that was missed off this album of 'Murder Ballads' - a song I would have loved to hear. It's where two hundred music fans murder Peter Andre ...........
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on 12 September 2014
My annual penance is to spend the weekend chez my Mother-in-Law. This is a stressful time, as every year I get confirmation that The Devil's Disciple is getting more and more like the Devil herself. "Mirror mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all!"
Having packed the trip essentials - Gin; Tonic; Bat Bite Serum and a packet of rat poison, all I had to do was contemplate the long drive to Pendle Hill.
Readers of my past reviews will know that music is an important source of inspiration to me, and the way I was feeling, I needed all the help I could get. Luckily, I stumbled upon this album. Dark, melancholy, tortured. It encapsulated my exact emotions at the time and put me in a perfect frame of mind for yet another weekend of hell. (It also gave me some ideas for future visits....)
Nick Cave fans - this is a wonderful album that rewards repeated hearing. Fellow Devil/Disciple sufferers - buy it. At the very least you'll appreciate that you're not alone in your misery!
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on 12 November 2016
I'm a latecomer to Nick Cave. For some reason he passed me by for a long time until I heard this album. Great stuff, dark brooding and magnificent.
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on 16 October 2003
A collection of songs dealing with serial killings, mass murder and random crimes of passion might seem an odd subject for an album and in some ways, you'd be right to think that. But then again, this is Nick Cave.
I find listening to this album to be quite unsettling, but at the same time blackly comic and almost uplifting. I can't think of another artist who could even hope to pull off this quite amazing feat. From the very morbid "Song of Joy" opening, through the exceptionally foul mouthed "Stagger Lee" and finishing on a re-orked version of "Death is not the end," (featuring guest vocals from the likes of Shane McGowan, Kylie Minogue and PJ Harvey) you can't help but be taken aback by it all.
The highlight of the album for me is "Where the Wild Roses grow," which is a duet with Kylie Minogue, (The best song she'll ever do) her voice providing a nice contrast with Cave's own haunting vocals.
This is not Cave's finest work, but it is certainly one of his bravest and though it might not be the first Cd you reach for, it deserves it's place on your shelf alongside all the other Nick Cave albums.
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on 8 January 2016
No need to review this album as there a many out there already.
This is just for any prospective buyers of this release.
Single sleeve 2× vinyls on 180gram.10 tracks spread over the 2 vinyls ensures that you will get the best sound possible,and boy do you.
Download code.
No lyric sheet
Well worth adding to your collection,excellent pressing..
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on 10 November 2012
I bought my first Nick Cave CD after seeing his video on MTV of Where the Wild Roses Grow with Kylie, as a safe start I bought The Best of, wasn't disappointed and have since purchased Dig Lazarous, Abbattoir Blues/Wild Orpheus, then a few weeks ago bought Murder Ballads and OST Lawless. First play of Murder Ballads was in the car driving along the M1, my first thoughts were that this was a very dark and depressing collection, after a few plays and repeats as it has only today been removed from the car, I have to say it does bring a wry smile when playing it now. It is absolutely brilliant, every song has its own life, full of deep seated thoughts, anxiety and to me a definate fun side.
Stagger Lee is just brilliant, played on my mp3 in alphabetical order it appears next to Stagger Lee by Neil Diamond, such a contrast. The lyrics to Stagger Lee are of a great tale, great story even if explicit but it does fit perfectly in this collection, plus it has a fantastic bass line for playing a bit loud in the car, just brilliant
My original Nick Cave introduction with Kylie is on here, so thats a bonus too, Lovely Creature has a great rythm and story.
All in all there is not a bad song on this album for me, usually there is a track to be skipped but not on here, my wife on the other hand would easily skip them all, it is not everyones cup of tea, but I would most definately recommend this album, if you like a good story with a twist and a wry smile while you are listening then just buy this you will not be disappointed.
Having played it today in the house and rather loud, it just gets better.
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on 5 March 2013
The albums songs are in many different styles from tragic to black comic, from old fashioned to modern. All but the last one are linked by being about a murder or murders. The best is the opening one 'Song of Joy' where we have a multiple murder described by a possibly unreliable narrator. Stagger Lee is a masterpiece of song story telling and the Curse of Millhaven is a black comic masterpiece.
The reason why its not a 5 star partly because the song Henry Lee is too repetetive and also it is not quiet clear how the religious song at the end relates to what has gone before, even though it is well performed.
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on 20 April 2018
find yourself singing along to tales of death and destruction in no time
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on 20 November 2017
Suberin vinyl album
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on 28 October 2015
Exceptional collection of ballads best known for the Kylie contribution but do not let that stop you buying this.
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