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Murder Ballads
Murder Ballads

Murder Ballads

CD (1996)

Murder Ballads
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Release date NZ
February 20th, 1996
Number of Discs
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Product ID


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Nick Cave (vocals); Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld (guitar); Conway Savage (keyboards); Martyn P. Casey (bass); Thomas Wydler (drums); Jim Sclavunos (percussion).

Additional personnel: PJ Harvey, Kylie Minogue, Shane MacGowan (vocals); Anita Lane, Brian Hooper, Warren Ellis.

Producers: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tony Cohen, Victor Van Vugt.

Recorded at Wessex Studios, London, England; Atlantis, Sing Sing and Metropolis Studios, Melbourne, England between 1993 and 1995.

In his trademark bottomless voice, Nick Cave narrates one tragic, violent tale after another. In excruciating detail, he examines the fine apects of murder, varying viewpoints between victims and killers, and investigating the dialogue between them from many angles. MURDER BALLADS, his ninth release with the Bad Seeds, is Cave at his most raw and lyrical.

He delves unflinchingly into macabre territory with the backing of his band's spare, moaning, reverb-rich playing--by turns sweetly tuneful and disjointedly dirge-like. PJ Harvey assumes the role of a woman scorned on "Henry Lee," in which she describes stabbing to death the man who rejects her. Her story is interspersed with choruses of, "La la la la la/La la la la lee/A little bird lit down on Henry Lee," adding a sense of perverse humor to the ballad's bleakness. On "Where the Wild Roses Grow," a man kills his lover, explaining that "all beauty must die," and Kylie Minogue provides the innocent, breathy voice of the dead lover with a ghostly, haunting softness. Yet amid the troubling, startling brutality runs a sense of fragility and a poetic lyricism that makes these songs linger.

What the critics say...

Rolling Stone (3/21/96, p.96) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...never before have manic elements elevated Cave's shtick to art as on MURDER BALLADS....literate, sultry and tortured....the performance of Nick Cave's life..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/8/96, p.66) - "Not for the squeamish, this is the rare pop record that resonates with the weight of the ages..." - Rating: B+
Q (3/96, p.93) - 3 Stars - Good - "...Musically, the Bad Seeds touch on tinkling cabaret jazz, country-paced morbidity and every morose station between..."
Option (3-4/96, p.89) - "...On MURDER BALLADS, Cave offers literary devices that separate good murder ballads from gratuitous cheap thrills..."
Melody Maker (12/21-28/96, pp.66-67) - Ranked #16 on Melody Maker's list of 1996's `Albums Of The Year.'
Melody Maker (1/27/96, p.33) - Recommended - "...the most avowedly grim in purpose of all Cave's records....also the funniest....It dips its toes into all manner of styles. Cave is a stranger to none of them, but many would--rightly--be considered unacceptable coming from anyone else..."
Mojo (Publisher) (5/01, p.46) - "More deaths than a Sam Peckinpah movie. Co-stars Polly Harvey and Kylie Minogue..."
New York Times (Publisher) (2/11/96, Sec.2, p.30) - "...MURDER BALLADS is about more than storytelling. In each song, Mr. Cave meticulously creates a macabre fable and then distills it to a single image of death in much the way a photographer arranges a studio shoot..."
NME (Magazine) (12/21-28/96, pp.66-67) - Ranked #7 in NME's 1996 critic's poll.
NME (Magazine) (2/3/96, p.44) - 7 (out of 10) - "...grotesque, horrifying, and vaudevillian all at once, an uphill slog you would be hard pressed to term `entertainment"....[Cave's] baritone doesn't sound disgusted or repulsed, just...cold and the tables are turned on the listener..."

Track Listing:

1. Song Of Joy
2. Stagger Lee
3. Henry Lee - (with PJ Harvey)
4. Lovely Creature
5. Where The Wild Roses Grow - (with Kylie Minogue)
6. Curse Of The Millhaven, The
7. Kindness Of Strangers, The
8. Crow Jane
9. O'Malley's Bar
10. Death Is Not The End - (with PJ Harvey/Kylie Minogue/Anita Lane/Shane MacGowan)

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