Nick Cave

Back Story

  • BORN: September 22, 1957. Warracknabeal, Australia
  • KEY COLLABORATORS: Blixa Bargeld, Phill Calvert, Martyn P. Casey, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey, Rowland S. Howard, Tracy Pew, Jim Sclavunos.
  • GENRES: New wave, punk, rock
  • YEARS ACTIVE: 1978-present

NICK CAVE, AND LONGTIME BAD Seeds band-mate Mick Harvey first made an impact in early-’80s Melbourne. Their group The Birthday Party set tales of death, bats and car crashes to a kind of decapitated jazz-punk. The sleeves came with swastikas and titles like Drunk On The Pope’s Blood. Violence was routine, as was heroin. Yet, 25 years later, Cave and selected Bad Seeds played on the same bill as Ronnie Corbett. Prince Charles was guest of honour, watching as Cave and colleagues gave an elegant performance to mark the centenary of Sir John Betjeman’s birth. Between these two poles - between The Birthday Party and the Betjy party - sits one of the most impressive back catalogue of the post-punk generation. (continues below)


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Cave and his collaborators have drawn on William Faulkner, William Shakespeare and Willie Dixon. Their work has been sung by both Kylie Monogue and Johnny Cash. But, this career is also distinguished in another way - in the simple fact that, over time, the records have got better rather than worse. Cave has been conspicuously assisted in this by his fellow players in the Bad Seeds - variable in line-up, rarely in quality. Mick Harvey was with Cave since school bands. Latterly, violinist Warren Ellis has become a key foil.

“Over time, the records have got better rather than worse.”

With Cave it really is difficult to exclude LPs from a career-best selection. The first two Bad Seeds LPs are intriguing, but primordial. The 2007 Grinderman album is a striking, distinctive thing, but it can maybe be accounted for by the Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! album it led to. And that’s without even touching on the soundtracks for films including Ghosts... Of The Civil Dead, scored by Cave in collaboration, variously, with Harvey, Ellis and Blixa Bargeld.

As Premier League football managers are wont to say: it’s a nice problem to have.