Imperfect, visceral, exciting and, ultimately, classic.
Chris Long 2009-05-08
Now that Nick Cave is the prince of glowering, gothic rock, it's difficult to imagine a time when it looked like he'd disappear, but after the break-up of his apocalyptic, bombastic post-punk noisesmiths The Birthday Party, that's how it seemed.
Yet unbeknownst to his fans, he was already plotting a new dawn as the Party reached their finale. In fact, what's most staggering about his Bad Seeds' debut is not the throbbing thrill of it, but the fact that it ripped out of him, through the mangle of his five new Bad Seeds, and into the world within months of his last band's demise.
Over two and half decades on, it has lost none of its slap-face quality. From the opening brood of Avalanche, a Leonard Cohen cover - what a bold debuting statement to make, opening with a cover - underpinned brilliantly by Barry Adamson's insidious bass and Mick Harvey's tumultuous drums, through the brutal, keening shudder of the title track, and out to the spine-gripping and strangely seductive closer, A Box For Black Paul, the album is a stunning piece of work that declared that Cave was far from finished.
And it's not simply a statement in power, but also in control. Nothing is wasted and, at just seven songs long, it leaves you desperate for more of the guttural call of Cabin Fever, more of the twisted vision of Saint Huck, just more of the maddeningly brilliant anger, flawed ambition and deep-burning fire of it all.
In the notes of this reissue, there is a quote from Nick which says that when they went into the studio to make the album, ''no-one knew what the songs were''. Now, as then, the answer is simple: imperfect, visceral, exciting and, ultimately, classic.