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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus (Cover Artwork)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of OrpheusAbattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus (2004)
Anti- Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Two big things have made this a difficult review. First, with this fall rush of releases, I have so many choices of new albums to listen to: The Blood Brothers, Elliott Smith, Jimmy Eat World and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes being at the top for me. But this is Nick Cave. That brings me to my sec.
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Two big things have made this a difficult review. First, with this fall rush of releases, I have so many choices of new albums to listen to: The Blood Brothers, Elliott Smith, Jimmy Eat World and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes being at the top for me. But this is Nick Cave. That brings me to my second problem. While I know the man and his band are legends, I have never even heard them before. I have nothing to compare this album to; I must take it as it is. If you expected a review comparing his thirteenth studio release, a two-album set, to Cave's past work, you will obviously have to look elsewhere. If you want to hear about how good the albums are on their own, read on. And they are good indeed.

Even though I didn't get any sort of info or bio with album, I did a little research to try and appease those of you who already know the band. Lineup-wise, this is the first Bad Seeds album without guitarist Blixa Bargeld, with Mick Harvey covering all the guitars. Next, the two albums were recorded in one 16-day studio session; the albums are separated by choice alone. Also of note is the packaging, while of course secondary to the tunes, it is unique- an open-ended box covered in some sort of textured fabric which holds two sleeves for the disc and a heavy duty booklet complete with lyrics and plenty of cool artsy studio pics.

Abattoir Blues is very bluesy indeed, a rock and roll album with many angry songs and booming bass lines. The opener "Get Ready for Love" has remained one of my favorite tracks throughout my listens, due in part to the driving drum beat but most of all the addition of the London Community Gospel Choir, which sings with such fervor on "Get ready!" and "Praise Him!" that you can't help but try and keep up with them singing along. The solo sopranos really let fly on some incredibly high notes too; it's quite intense. Almost all the songs use the choir or at least additional backup vocalists providing a very full sound, and "Hiding All Away" is another good example. "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" is another highlight, with a rare major key chorus, still creeped out by Cave's voice, but being gorgeous anyway, again with help from the choir. "Nature Boy" is another of the few "happy" sounding tracks on the album, and this one is a toe tapper strong on piano. One last mention for this album regarding the last track, "Fable of the Brown Ape" - Cave has definitely cooked up a bizarre tale here, and with its quiet exterior, one could easily be surprised by the sudden outbursts contained within.

The Lyre of Orpheus insists on being a separate album, due to its completely different more gentle feel. It starts with the title track, which continues with his tradition (I've read) of creating and recreating myths, this one is his version of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. It's an outlandish story originally, and humorously phrased by Cave. Cave's version goes like this: Orpheus creates a homemade guitar with a sound so beautiful yet so powerful that it almost kills his wife when he plays it to her. He doesn't seem to mind and goes around outside playing and "Birdies detonated in the sky / Bunnies dashed their brains out on the trees." It also contains lines rhyming Orpheus with orifice, but you'll just have to hear that one yourselves. With its thumping bass and drums, twanging guitars and murderous recitation by Cave, this opener is a highlight on the disc, and from here on there is nothing as intense. "Supernaturally" is the only upbeat song on this album and it is a great one, full of strings, furiously strummed guitars, and shouts of "Hey! Ho! Oh baby, don't you go". The rest of the album is full of calm songs with brushes on the drums and twinkling piano abound. The additional singers and choir are still present, but more on the tender side than the gospel furry found on songs on Abattoir. The best song of this style would be the Barry White / Marvin Gaye style love ballad "Babe, You Turn Me On", which is full of metaphors like "I make like I'm a little deer / Grazing on the flowers", making you wonder if that means what you think it does. But he gets it all out there early on with "I put one hand on your round ripe heart / And the other down your panties". The flute-tinged "Breathless" and the majestic "O, Children" would be other toppers.

I prefer Abattoir Blues for being more upbeat and rocking, though The Lyre of Orpheus is well put together and shows the versatility of this outfit. On such a sprawling album(s), I was very impressed by the consistent high quality of the tunes; they are all obviously very well thought-out, orchestrated and performed. While I was a bit hesitant at first, Cave has drawn me in with his lyrics most of all, and secondly by the ability of him and his band to frame all the stories so perfectly. So although I felt handicapped in writing this review, I seemed to spew quite a bit out on these albums and that must say something. I would recommend this box to anyone patient enough for it, and for the previous Cave fans as well I'm sure. Well, Allmusic gave this their check for album pick out of Cave's discography, and they're always right, right?

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Operation Ivy - Operation IvyNick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!Drive Like Jehu - Yank CrimePixies - Indie CindyThe Clash - London CallingRamones - RamonesThe Weakerthans - Reunion TourNew York Dolls - New York DollsHüsker Dü - New Day RisingHot Snakes - Suicide Invoice

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (November 10, 2004)

Awesome new Cave album , Some of his best work since Tender Prey

greg0rb (November 3, 2004)

Thanks for gettin my back Jesse and trailerpark. I like to think i have quite an extensive cd collection, and then i realize i'm missing essential records. It makes me spend quite a bit of money. Now off to buy more nick cave.
-Greg

Anonymous (November 3, 2004)

plague makes me think of my 12 year old niece.

-plague

Anonymous (November 2, 2004)

plague reminds me of my 12 year old niece.

Anonymous (November 2, 2004)

This is a good solid Bad Seeds album, definitely better than the slightly disappointing Nocturama, but in my opinion not quite the work of genius that was No More Shall We Part. Before that Boatman's Call and Murder Ballads are also essential for completely opposite reasons (love songs vs. death songs) and Let Love In is still proably their most varied, fully realised album. Oh, and you have to get Henry's Dream and The Good Son and Tender Prey as well. And Kicking Against the Pricks is as good a covers set as you're ever likely to hear.

As for Birthday Party, get Hits. You want to get into a band, you get the best of. Logical, no?

Anonymous (November 1, 2004)

the live dvd is pretty amazing too, especially if you watch it in 5.1... it's almost like being there.

Anonymous (November 1, 2004)

Good album but short of 'Henry's Dream', 'Murder Ballads' and the live album.

And not punk, if we're honest....

Anonymous (October 31, 2004)

the Birthday Party is great, they really didn't have a definitive album but my vote goes to Junkyard.

Anonymous (October 31, 2004)

while we're on the topic of nick cave whats a splendid b-day CD to begin with, ive always wanted to discover them

-Plague

moldy (October 31, 2004)

speaking of nick cave whats a good birthday party album to start with, ive always wanted to check them out

Anonymous (October 31, 2004)

Plague rulez.

mjg (October 31, 2004)

this album is amazing.

Anonymous (October 30, 2004)

Allow me to guess: the 'plague' is you selecting other peoples' posts and modifying the words? real witty. go pass away.

-Plague

trailerparkjesus (October 30, 2004)

"I actually applaud greg for being honest about that fact. Not every record is going to be reviewed by a fan, and I think that it's actually the best way to have a record review. Besides, he did a fair amount of research and wrote a cohesive review."

"I actually congratulate greg for being true about that fact. Not every album is going to be reviewed by a long-time fan, and I think that it's actually the greatest way to have a record review. Also, he did a fair amount of research and wrote a stellar review.

-Plague"

Let me guess: the 'plague' is you taking other peoples posts and changing the adjectives? real clever. go die.

Anonymous (October 30, 2004)

everyone has to start somewhere... good review.. now go buy from her to eternity and let love in... or see him in concert next time he comes around he's a fucking diabolical madman on the stage.

Anonymous (October 30, 2004)

I actually congratulate greg for being true about that fact. Not every album is going to be reviewed by a long-time fan, and I think that it's actually the greatest way to have a record review. Also, he did a fair amount of research and wrote a stellar review.

-Plague

trailerparkjesus (October 30, 2004)

I agree with Jesse.

I think it might actually be better, as it makes for a pretty unbiased review.

Jesse (October 30, 2004)

I actually applaud greg for being honest about that fact. Not every record is going to be reviewed by a fan, and I think that it's actually the best way to have a record review. Besides, he did a fair amount of research and wrote a cohesive review.

Anonymous (October 30, 2004)

seriously,
you CANNOT preface a record review by stating you know nothing about the band's history,
and in this case, where Cave already has 12 albums under his belt...

weak

Anonymous (October 30, 2004)

Go fellate a horse, you androgynously-named freak case!

-Chinatown

Jesse (October 30, 2004)

Shut the fuck up about Pavement. What are you, street team or some shit? Get the fuck out of here.

Anonymous (October 30, 2004)

The new Pavement re-issue is sooo good. Also, I've never seen such beautiful packaging---they even outdid S&E.

Nick Cave is kind of "meh." I agree with the Fork's score of 7.0.

I also agree with the Fork's score of 10.0 for the Pavement re-issue. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/p/pavement/crooked-r ain-crooked-rain.shtml

-Chinatown

Anonymous (October 29, 2004)

Granted, Colassal is good, but they don't deserve a 5. Nick Cave derseves a 5. This album is gold from start to finish, both of them actually. I demand that you give him a 5.

gladimnotemo (October 29, 2004)

You researched Nick Cave and failed to mention he was in the Birthday Party? Geez.

The man is a genius.

Jesse (October 29, 2004)

Nick Cave slays. Can't wait to hear this.

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