Review Summary: Lock up your daughters, Nick Cave has the no pussy blues..............
Once there was a post punk band fronted by smack addled aussie, called The Birthday Party, their music was violent and ear splitting, sleazy a hybrid of punk and jazz. The band collapsed after two albums due to drug burn out and friction between the lead singer and the guitarist.
The lead singer dusted himself off and formed a new band and went on to lead a well respected career as a song writer touching on such subjects as love and breakups, wrote a book and a screen play. His early work was often old testament violence but some critics feel he mellowed as the years progressed into pipe and slippers new testament type subjects.
And that may be true, the latter songs are more calmer tender affairs bar the odd murder.
So perhaps people might see if as mid life crisis when he decides to get some of his backing band together and form a garage band.
Which might be true were it not for the fact that his name is Nick Cave
and that he never truly mellowed.
This is the man, after all, who seduced Kylie only to bash her head in with a rock.
So out goes the piano and in comes the guitar which he set up in his garage a quick call to his friends Warren, Jim and Marty. A few sessions later and they are ready to rock you.
Grinder man kicks off with the Get it on
"I had to get up to get down to start all over again
Head on down to the basement and shout
Kick those white mice and black dogs out"
over a dirty fuzz guitar and chanted chorus,
The next verse contains the gem
"He drank panther piss
And ***ed the girls you're married too
He's got some words of wisdom GET IT ON GET IT ON
On the day that you were born"
So Cave reinvents himself not as the loverman of old nor the cold blooded killer, but rather the middle aged sex starved rock star and does so with much pathos humour and irony. He side steps any attempts to capture
the past glories of The Birthday Party or even early Bad Seeds.
This is a different beast entirely
Get it on sums up much of what Grinderman is about non fussy blues pub rock, if it were not for the fact that is was played by such gifted musicians it would be a bloody mess.
Much better is the second track "No Pussy Blues" the tale of Cave's unsuccessful attempts to woo a young woman.
Imagine Sonic Youth playing dirty blues. Its starts with sample of type writer keys mutating into drum cymbals, which build as a droning guitar enters only to explode as Cave declares "I 've got the no pussy blues" as the guitars become a sea of white noise.
Electric Alice lies some where in between Early Velvet Underground and Tender Prey era Cave, with Warren Ellis doing his best John Cale viola and Cave on the organ.
Title track Grinderman is nothing more than a repetitive guitar riff, all metallic and industrial, pretty much the same tempo for its first three minutes.
It is tense and claustrophobic at first but prehaps 30 seconds too long before Ellis' guitar adds fragmented riff that sounds recalls a vast open Texas desert.
Fortunately pace picks up with "Depth Charge Ethel" where Grinderman finally decide to rock out all "woo hooohs" and hand claps.
Martyn P Casey adds some funky bass over the middle 8 and Jim Sclavunos finally getting a chance to pound the skins.
"Go tell the women" is breezy and upbeat by comparison, a simple guitar riff and drum beat as Cave half sings....
then the pause before the chorus "Go tell the Women that we are leaving" You can almost picture his eye brow raise as he cheekily says it.
By the second verse some weird and wonderful background noise creeps in, adding variety to the song.
Unlike most of the other songs so far (I Don't Need You To) Set Me Free could easily have been on the last Bad Seeds albums, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Grinderman is not Cave's attempt to break new ground a such but to embrace the freer elements of his solo shows where the rest of his Grinderman companies acted as his backup band.
It is the most immediate song, where Cave plays piano though it does not dominate, Ellis adds some Violin. It's all built upon some amazing bass by Casey.
It feels like a band just rocking out and enjoying it, Cave even says "Grinderman set me free" just at the final bridge.
"1,2,3,4" organ, buzzing guitar riff, and "Honey Bee" kicks in, between the chorus the band add weird buzzing noises into their mics.....
"The kid is laying on the lawn
He's been giving me *** for years
He rides his bike across my lawn
Now he's laying on the lawn
Won't somebody touch me""
Its wonderfully ridiculous, just as your dancing around the room all carefree, your hit by the next song,
Its Cave's voice its never been so fragile and hurt.........as he sings
"My daddy was an astronaut
That's what I was often taught
My daddy went away too soon"
It seems at once like the strangest and yet apt place to address the death of his father. Cave's voice is pushed to the fore, Cave showing off his vocal range with every word, achingly sung.
"When my love comes down to meet you" is mess of textures, no instrument sticks out, its okay song but perhaps the weakest on the album.
"Love Bomb" recalls all the great 60's garage bands, its only as Cave sings
"Yea I been watching the MTV
And I been watching the BBC
Yea I been searching on the internet"
that the band step up a gear and the song takes off.
As an end song its somewhat weak. But damn its still toe tapping fun.
Which sums up Grinderman pretty well.
Cave can sit back and relax, he has proven that he can still rock out when he wants to. Not that he cares either way.
No Pussy Blues,
Go Tell The Women
(I Don't Need You To) Set Me Free
Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars)
Man In The Moon
Over all solid album some great songs,