Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Record review

Phases & Stages

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (Mute) It's a long and winding snake trail from the Birthday Party's "My baby is a cool machine ... she says damn that horror bat, sex vampire bat" to "Years passed by, we were walking by the sea half delirious. You smiled at me and said, 'Babe I think this thing is getting kind of serious'" off "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" on Abattoir Blues. Cave, former poster boy for the dark heart down under, has not only foresworn his former opiate muse, but with this ambitious and uneven 2-CD set, he's also come to terms with the fact that Nick the Stripper exists now primarily as a memory of youth, while Cave the elder continues unabated. There are, on Orpheus, a pair of sweeping near-classics in "Carry Me" and "O Children," both of which mine Cave's favored and fertile fields of damnation and redemption. Abattoir Blues is the more toothy of the two discs, thick with galloping stormers, such as opener "Get Ready for Love" and "Hiding All Away," the polar opposite of the contemplative "Easy Money." The piano-driven-mad rush of "Supernaturally," meanwhile, seems to have been lifted whole from Nina Simone's version of "Sinnerman." Noticeable is the absence of Euro-squall from ex-Bad Seed and Einstürzende Neubauten founder Blixa Bargeld, which leaves the whole sounding noticeably poppy, particularly the hideously titled "Nature Boy," which wouldn't be out of place on a Tom Petty album. Of course both songwriters idolize Bob Dylan (not to mention Dylan Thomas), but in all dark honesty, come All Hallows' Eve, it's "Release the Bats" over "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" every time.

***

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