ORIGINALLY POSTED ON FRIDAY 25 APRIL 2008
When I was the new wave kid on the block, I used to snigger behind the backs of the guys at school who were fans of bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin and Yes. (I didn’t do it to their faces as they were bigger than me and would have giving me a right good kicking).
I did so because, unlike them, I got to hear the songs that I liked getting played on the radio, and sometimes I even got to see the bands that were my favourites appearing on the telly. I was of a very impressionable age, and my attitude was that you were a nobody if you didn’t get played on Radio 1 or Radio Clyde this side of midnight. And an even bigger nobody if Noel Edmonds, Jimmy Saville, Tony Blackburn or Dave Lee Travis didn’t read out your name in a rundown during Top Of The Pops.
In my wee world, it wasn’t relevant that the sorts of bands – the ones that so excited the guys with long hair, the combat jackets and the patchouli oil – could sell LPs in their millions and play concerts that recreated all the albums note-for-note in shows lasting three hours in length – mainstream recognition was the be-all and end-all.
So, it’s just as well that as I’ve got older my attitude has softened –for I would never have found a place in my heart and mind for the greatest act to ever come out of Australia.
In a career that now goes back more than 30 years, Nick Cave, whether with The Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds or Grinderman has had one commercial hit that got him on TOTP. And even then, that was because fans of Kylie Minogue bought the single….
He has released one great LP after another throughout his career. Each LP has spawned two or three singles, some of which have been astonishing in their ambition. Some have been tremendously catchy with great tunes and big choruses, while others have been gorgeous yet understated ballads that are poems set to music. He’s even made all sorts of promotional videos, many of them entertaining and eye-catching in an effort to get some mainstream attention.
All to no avail.
Instead his fame and career is now so similar to the dinosaurs of the 70s in being based entirely on critical acclaim album sales and live performances that leave you panting for more without ever troubling the compilers of the singles charts.
All this means is that an awful lot of folk who have an interest in music, but no real depth of passion or soul for it (i.e. they’ll maybe buy what they hear on the radio but never take risks) are missing out on his genius and talent. I suppose that’s good in one way as it means Nick Cave will ever get so big and famous that his live shows move to arenas and stadia. But overall, don’t you agree that his music should be in every household?
Yet again, there were a number of singles that I hummed and hawed over before selecting one for this rundown. It goes back to 1994:-
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Do You Love Me? (single version)
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Cassiel’s Song
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Sail Away
A single drum note. The haunting sound of the staccato Hammond organ. Nick mumbling the one line over and over to himself. The bar-room piano that comes crashing in on top of everything. And that’s just the introductory 45 seconds – a sort of overture for all that follows.
Is this a song that is a plea for affection from someone who wants so much to be loved back??
I’m not sure….
I’ve always thought it is something altogether far more creepy and sinister – the song of a dominating control-freak who breaks the soul and spirit and eventually the body of their lover because although she gave him everything, it was never ever enough to satisfy his lust.
In many ways, it’s a bit like The One I Love by REM. If you just catch the most audible part of the song, it all seems innocent enough. But listen closely and you’ll notice that there’s a lot of venom and poison lying within……