Nick Cave has come a very long way since this July 1981 single took him into the UK indie charts for the first time:-

mp3 : The Birthday Party – Release The Bats

Wouldn’t it be great if, during his outdoor shows this coming summer, he threw this little hand grenade into his live set….possibly after Into My Arms or The Ship Song, just to give his audience a real wake-up call.

The band wrote and recorded this as a bit of a piss-take of themselves and the lazy way they were being portrayed in the music press at the time, hamming up the whole goth thing which was gaining a head of steam. The actual recording sessions only added to things as the band went into a studio during the cheap down time – i.e. – after midnight – when the daytime singer/band packed up for the day. Legend has it that the daytime was taken up by Phil Collins, and I wonder if their paths did ever happen to cross.

There’s an equally frantic and wonderful sounding b-side to enjoy….it was written by the late Roland S Howard and is one that I feel laid the foundations for later Bad Seeds songs such as Tupelo.

mp3 : The Birthday Party – Blast Off

Incidentally, the first recording of Release The Bats predates the actual 45 by a few months thanks to a John Peel session in April 1981.

mp3 : The Birthday Party – Release The Bats (Peel Session)

I really regret that I never understood this band until long after they had broken up. I’d love to have gone along to see them in their heyday…..although I know I would just have stood at the back out of harm’s way.



  1. I was only ever frightened at a show twice: First was The Birthday Party at Danceteria, circa 1982. Damn, they were scary. Awesome, but scary. The other time was GG Allin at the Gas Station in the East Village. He was just scary, not awesome.

  2. I always liked the Peel version more than the ‘proper’ version.

  3. Loved this too. Like so many songs, cannot disassociate this from listening to Peel. But saw Nick Cave browsing in Notting Hill Record & Tape Exchange early ’80s and I do remember thinking he seemed more sweet and geeky than scary!

  4. Ok JTFL, someday we will figure out how many times our paths have crossed…You are probably the only person I know who went to that GG Allin show…I stood as far away from the front as possible…and that wasn’t far enough… As for The Birthday Party show at Danceteria, I remember that as being one of the shows that the late great Ruth Polsky actually stayed for the entire set! TBP was just an immense, dark, entity at the time and that was very satisfying.

  5. The photos used on the cover are taken from the song’s video clip which, despite much searching, I have been unable to locate on Youtube.

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