Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
The Firstborn Is Dead


5.0
classic

Review

by Meatplow USER (111 Reviews)
September 17th, 2009 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist


Born out of the ashes of seminal Australian post-punk group The Birthday Party, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was formed around 1983 with its remnants in singer Nick Cave & guitarist Mick Harvey, teaming up with former Magazine bassist Barry Adamson, renowned multi-instrumentalist Hugo Race and Blixa Bargeld, frontman of the already well established German avant-garde industrial music act Einst├╝rzende Neubauten. With this line-up The Seeds showed enormous potential from the beginning, and on 1984 debut album From Her to Eternity released a rough, but otherwise well written partially schizophrenic, mostly somber post-punk affair with more then a tip to the hap of the folk lyrical styles of songsmiths such as Leonard Cohen (going so far as to cover Avalanche from Songs of Love and Hate) whilst maintaining Cave's gloomy, tongue-in-cheek vocal style and image which characterised the intense days of The Birthday Party and the "goth-rock" tag often attributed to them.

From Her to Eternity and much of the groups early catalogue feels like an extension of those days somewhat, just with different personnel and a new approach that was becoming evident on The Firstborn Is Dead, the groups second album. Whereas a number of post-punk/new wave groups died as the middle and end section of the 80's approached (Orange Juice, The Psychedelic Furs, Section 25) or modified themselves to embrace new technologies after nobody cared anymore (New Order, Clock DVA) here The Bad Seeds dug up something more akin to a bluesy, raw folk whilst touching on lyrical themes inspired by Cave's obsessions with the American South and Southern Gothic literature. Filtered through a morose post-punk aesthetic, these influences over the The Firstborn Is Dead make it one of the most unique albums in the groups discography as they are yet to refine their sound further but are completely passionate in producing a very dark, raw, but ultimately restrained and worthwhile songwriting effort.

If there is one way to describe the general feel of the album, I would choose the word sparse. Opener Tupelo is an exception to this rule, with it's repeated bassline hook, thundering drums and Cave's lyrics about a town under attack from extreme weather referencing both the birth of Elvis and the apocalypse it's appeal is undeniable, as is the stomping pace and "lasso riff" of sleeper classic Wanted Man, a song expanded on by Cave which was originally composed by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Train-Long Suffering follows a similar pace, but the bulk of the album feels more in step with Black Crow King, Knockin' On Joe, Blind Lemon Jefferson and The Six Strings That Drew Blood though which recall the feel of a stoned bluesman off drifting, plucking a few strings along the way.

Black Crow King has an unusual psychedelic blues vibe to it with its effect drenched guitar and Cave's lyrics sung over the top (I am the black crow king/Keeper of the nodding corn/Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!/All the hammers are a-talking/All the nails are a-singing/So sweet and low), whilst the piano led Knockin' On Joe is a strong contender for one of the best Cave ballads ever written (These chains of sorrow, they are heavy, it is true/And these locks cannot be broken, no, not with one thousand keys/O Preacher, come closer, you don't scare me anymore/Just tell Nancy not to come here/Just tell her not to come here anymore/Tell Nancy not to come). Say Goodbye To The Little Girl Tree is one of the best cuts here, with its plucked blues riffs it builds an unusual set of dynamics that is difficult to describe but thrilling all the same with some of my favourite lyrics present (This wall I built around you/Is made out of stone-lies/O little girl the truth would be/An axe in thee./O father look to your daughter/Brick of grief and stricken morter./With this ring/This silver hoop of wire/I bind your maiden mainstream/Just to keep you as a child).

The Firstborn Is Dead is not always described as an essential recording for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and indeed later albums such as The Good Son, Let Love In and The Boatman's Call demonstrate a much higher standard of songwriting that sees the group maturing somewhat, losing their angsty post-punk edge and settling more into the shoes of contemporary adult rock. Still, the early days of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had a raw outburst of energy that will never be captured again, the bluesy folk edge of The Firstborn Is Dead lending something very appealing to this classic post-punk release.



Recent reviews by this author
Moevot AbgzvoryathreKate Bush Hounds of Love
Zoviet France Just an IllusionSPK Machine Age Voodoo
7 From Life Sting of The Honey SpiderCromagnon Orgasm
user ratings (116)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Meatplow
September 17th 2009


5524 Comments


Tupelo bound

MassiveAttack
September 17th 2009


2688 Comments


I forgot about you and your reviewing!

When isn't Nick Cave "good"?

Meatplow
September 17th 2009


5524 Comments


Yeah, this is one of those reviews i've probably made 4 or 5 attempts at writing but always had incredibly trouble with for some reason and ended up deleting.

is this good


I like it a lot

fireaboveicebelow
September 17th 2009


6837 Comments


one of my favorites

When isn't Nick Cave "good"?
seriously

Jim
September 17th 2009


5110 Comments


awesome review man. which NC&tBS's album would you recommend the most??

Meatplow
September 17th 2009


5524 Comments


all of them! but get Let Love In I guess, or No More Shall We Part

Jim
September 17th 2009


5110 Comments


awesome, i'll get on it. i've been delaying nick cave for too long.

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 17th 2009


4461 Comments


Nick Cave needs more love on this site. Get Murder Ballads Bahamut, I plan on doing a 5 review sometime in the near future, because the lonely 3.5 one does not do the album justice.


...Meatplow your avatar is freaking me out.

Meatplow
September 17th 2009


5524 Comments


Yeah, i've been getting that a lot lol. ;]

Murder Ballads is great, Stagger Lee is about the best track ever. I never warmed up to the end section much, I should give it more attention though because I disliked the latter part of this to begin with as well.

Waior
September 17th 2009


11461 Comments


Your avatars thieve my joy.

This review is good though, yes.

Digging: Hey Rosetta! - Second Sight

Meatplow
September 17th 2009


5524 Comments


Thankyou.

I am the Grinch.

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 17th 2009


4461 Comments


O'Malleys Bar is the best. 14 minutes of the most violent, profane lyrics I've ever heard.

jrowa001
September 18th 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yes! im glad this has been reviewed by you. this is my third fav Cave album right behind Murder Ballads and The Good Son. yet they are all rated a 5. shows how amazing Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are. they def need more attention around here. hes yet to release a bad album even though some people are too dumb to realize the brilliance of Dig, Lazarus, Dig

qwe2
September 18th 2009


377 Comments


nick cave is brilliant

Meatplow
December 22nd 2009


5524 Comments


O Preacher, come closer, you don't scare me anymore
Just tell Nancy not to come here
Just tell her not to come here anymore
Tell Nancy not to come
And let me die in the memory of her arms.




Meatplow
April 2nd 2010


5524 Comments


Thankyou.

I am the Grinch.


This seems so out of context now I look back at it.

qwe3
August 25th 2010


21369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

listening to this album because your starcraft name reminded me how good this was



and it's so so good

bungy
January 9th 2013


8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this just ruled my evening

blackcrowking
January 11th 2013


17 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! I love this album as you can tell by my name Nothing can compare to early Bad Seeds

tempest--
January 16th 2014


14377 Comments


man Tupelo what a song



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy