Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds  are an Australian rock band formed in Melbourne in 1983 by vocalist Nick Cave, multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey and guitarist Blixa Bargeld.  The band has featured international personnel throughout its career.  The band has released fifteen studio albums and completed numerous international tours, and has been considered “one of the most original and celebrated bands of the post-punk and alternative rock eras in the ’80s and onward”.  (More from Wikipedia)

Nick Cave is described by Allmusic as “one of the finest songwriters of the post-punk era, whose hybrid of blues, gospel, and rock complemented his dark, literary style and baritone vocals”.  After fronting a band called the Birthday Party in about 1980Nick Cave assembled a band as a sort of post-punk super-group; and this band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has released 15 albums in the 30 years since. 


The album that I have, Tender Prey (1988) is their sixth album.  I was introduced to Nick Cave through the video for the opening track on this album, “The Mercy Seat” that I saw several times on the MTV late show 120 Minutes.  After a mostly mumbled introduction, the song is primarily the chorus repeated powerfully with savvy lyric changes; but I would have enjoyed the song if it extended to twice its 7-minute length.  The other songs on the album build on this novel take on religion.  


Ned Raggett in Allmusic has unending praise for this song:  “The album boldly starts out with an undisputed [Nick] Cave masterpiece – ‘The Mercy Seat’, a chilling self-portrait of a prisoner about to be executed that compares the electric chair with the throne of God.  Queasy strings from a Gini Ball-led trio and Mick Harvey’s spectral piano snake through a rising roar of electric sound – a common musical approach from many earlier [Bad] Seeds songs, but never so gut-wrenching as here.  Cave’s own performance is the perfect icing on the cake, commanding and powerful, excellently capturing the blend of crazed fear and righteousness in the lyrics.” 


(November 2014)


Last edited: March 22, 2021