The second record from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, back when they were working out how to reign in their creepy brand of blues rock. Recorded in Berlin in order for Cave's left-field inclinations to be taken seriously, rather than regarded with scorn, it features song-writing contributions from both Cave and his collaborator Mick Harvey, as well as a cover of "Wanted Man" by Dylan and Cash.

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2009 remaster CD + DVD set on Mute.

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The First Born Is Dead by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
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10/10 Ross Holloway 30th October 2014

For me this is both the quintessential and the essential Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds long player. It is certainly the one that coheres as a complete piece, rather than as a selection of songs.

It builds on the Southern Gothic styled début From Her to Eternity but manages to be at the same time more restrained and more brutally, biblically, powerful than its predecessor.

With the smallest and tightest Bad Seeds line-up, just Harvey, Bargeld, and Adamson, it is also the most 'group' sounding of any Bad Seeds album, and also the one with the most space in the music. Blixa's guitar is really allowed to breathe, somehow finding and umbilical connection with his de-constructed industrial punk (non) guitar playing and the blues of the deep south. Mick and Barry alternate on the drums and bass delivering a spare, muscular scaffold of rhythm that is driving and possessed of the most amazing clarity.

Nick is always literary, but on this album especially so, and here he has the perfect canvas on which to create something between a novella and a short story collection that plunges the listener into a mythical deep-south where biblical floods presage the birth of the King of Rock n Roll, gun-slingers face down the devil, convicts mutilate themselves to avoid the sadistic persecutions of their jailers, and girls die, as they must, at the hands of tormented lovers.

Nick becomes the 'Black Crow King', a singing, blaspheming "king of nothing at all", and the band respond in call and response field-holler style transporting the listener into the murky heart and roots of rock n roll, into sex, blood, and rebellion. It's emotionally intense, and it's dirty, and sticky, and gruesome, and larger-than-life.

The album is so vividly imagined and so convincingly rendered that in can appear somewhat preposterous - much like the work of genius cinematic mavericks like Alejandro Jodorowsky or Sam Peckinpah can do. What you have is greatness, vivid, poetical, profundity amidst the horrors.

A true masterpiece.



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