Everything You Do Today, Tomorrow Is Obsolete

Nick Cave turned 60 on Friday. I don’t know how the dark lord of gothic rock celebrates that sort of milestone but I think we should even if it’s a day or three late. Back in July I got a bit obsessed with this song, his 28th single, released back in 2008 (on the Dig, Lazarus Dig!!! album). The Bad Seeds set up a louche lounge bar groove, a fluid guitar part, some brushed drums and handclaps after the chorus, strumming and drumming away for nearly ten minutes. Over this Nick Cave has fun with the lyrics, a series of characters turning up- Janet, Betty X, Miss Polly, a hundred foot tall man, Alina, Deanna, and a nubian princess (who sparks off the following line ‘just then a black girl with no clothes on danced across the room, we charted the progress of the planets around that boogie-woogie moon’). This being Nick Cave there are literary references. The song title is borrowed from a William Morris novel and the lyrics borrow from the Odyssey. The video was similarly stuffed full of guests- Will Self, Peaches Geldof, Beth Orton, Tim Noble, Sue Webster and Martin McCarthy, the bassist from The Wonder Stuff. Plus some dancers from the Raymond Revue Bar. Happy birthday Mr Cave.

More News From Nowhere

I Felt Like A Vacuum Cleaner

The moment where the girl in the white dress appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, at Glastonbury back in 2013 is one of the greatest TV gig moments I’ve seen. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds had launched into a ten minute version of sex and murder fest Stagger Lee (sample line- ‘just count the holes in his motherfucking head’). The band with beards, suit jackets and Chelsea boots, had locked into a killer groove. Nick, black trousers, mostly black floral shirt, blacker than black hair, had gone down to the barrier and was giving it the full foot-on-the-fence-while-growling-into-the-mic Nick Cave thing. At seven minutes forty six seconds she rises up from the throng, like a Victorian ghost, all in white, arm stretched out, full eye contact. Nick is singing about the devil and Stagger Lee is about to be taken down. Four holes in his motherfucking head. The bassline is thunderous, he is shrieking, the pair are still maintaining eye contact. The strange to-and-fro dance continues, sexual tension rising among thousands of people in broad daylight. Spontaneous gig theatre.

There are some Nick Cave songs which are as good as anything written and recorded in the 21st century (and 20th for that matter). This one from 2008 is a lyrical tour de force, laugh out loud funny and serious as fuck, Nick on his knees railing against his god, author and creator, howling for answers. There’s a bizarre cast of characters, from the ‘myxomatoid kids’ in the first verse to a death in the second, causing him to shake his ‘ fists at the punishing rain’. This is one great line after another set against The Bad Seeds driving feedback and pummelling drums, occasionally breaking down into nothing but the noise of overloaded FX pedals and Nick looking for scissors.

‘Everything is messed up around here
Everything is banal and jejeune
There’s a planetary conspiracy
Against the likes of you and me
In this idiot constituency of the moon’

When he goes guruing down the street young people  want answers. Nick doesn’t have them. he feels like a vacuum cleaner, a complete sucker.  There are slavering dogs and enormous encyclopaedic brains, third world poverty and a whole list of world issues to be answered for. Later on Doug turns up tapping at the window and offering a book of Holocaust poetry complete with pictures. There is a line about Nick down in his bolthole appalled at the publishing of ‘another volume of unreconstructed rubbish’. Bukowski gets put down, the jerk. Prolix. Prolix. More scissors. Seriously, stunning stuff. Who else can do words this good?

We Call Upon The Author

Push The Sky Away/Harder Than You Think

Right then, time for action, time for change, time to see what is going on. Today is the day. By this tomorrow we should know what we face. The way I see it there are three potential outcomes of this general election.

1. A victory for a socialist Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn. If I am to believe my Twitter timeline this is a completely plausible outcome, but I fear it is unlikely.

2. A hung parliament. Seeing as there can’t be any parties out there who would prop up a minority government led by a politically damaged Theresa May, I’m guessing this would result in a progressive alliance of Labour, SNP, PC, possibly some Lib Dems, and the Greens. I am happy with this as an outcome.

3. A Tory government, a cabinet of barbarians, who will hold power for the next five years, driving us off the cliff face and into some sort of post-EU, post human rights, right-wing elective dictatorship where the poor are left to fend for themselves and Britain becomes a Poundshop, Daily Mail outpost off the coast of northern Europe.

I’m not looking forward to this.

In 2013 Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released an album called Push The Sky Away, the first without long term cohort Mick Harvey. It has a warmth that singles it out in Nick Cave’s back catalogue and on this beautiful closing song, a most un-Bad Seeds sound, an almost post-club sound with some optimistic, life affirming lyrics…

‘I was riding
The sun was rising from the fields

You’ve got to keep on pushing and keep on pushing
Pushing the sky away

And some people say that it’s just rock and roll
Oh but it gets down right into your soul

You’ve got to keep on pushing and keep on pushing
Pushing the sky away’

Push The Sky Away

It’s a thing of beauty, even if you’re not much of a Nick Cave fan. But it’s not a song to take to the barricades or the polling station. This is though, Chuck D and Flavor Flav telling it how it is…

Harder than You Think

Moss Side Story

Barry Adamson, formerly bass player for Magazine and currently a Bad Seed, has a back catalogue I’ve never really explored enough. This song from his Oedipus Schmoedipus album has Jarvis Cocker in full on ‘sexy’ mode and is rather good. The album takes in everything from film John Barry style soundtracks to jazz, dub, soul and electronic stuff. Worth looking out for.

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis

Barry Adamson, formerly bass player for Magazine and currently a Bad Seed, has a back catalogue I’ve never really explored enough. This song from his Oedipus Schmoedipus album has Jarvis Cocker in full on ‘sexy’ mode and is rather good. The album takes in everything from film John Barry style soundtracks to jazz, dub, soul and electronic stuff. Worth looking out for.

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis

Moss Side Story was a film noir soundtrack and homage to the streets he grew up in, released back in 1988 and found Barry a slot on Snub TV…

Caving In

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have a new album out today- Push the Sky Away- with the sleeve featuring Nick (clothed) and his wife (naked), something I may suggest to Mrs Swiss should the third Swiss Guards album ever get finished. I have conflicted feelings about Nick Cave- some of his stuff is superb, but there are very few albums he’s made I want to listen to all the way through and his piano ballads do next to nothing for me. There are people I know who rate him highly and people who cannot stand him. From recent times the last Bad Seeds album (Dig, Lazarus, Dig) and the first Grinderman lp both had a few songs I’d take with me anywhere but some I suspect I’ll never listen to again. The same goes for the rest of his back catalogue, all the way back really. So reading the reviews for the new one makes me want to hear some of it, knowing there’ll be two or three that I’ll love, but I don’t want to stream it and then just buy a couple of songs digitally. Seems wrong somehow even if it makes financial sense. I should really get the vinyl or the cd. Twenty-first century problems eh?

This is an out-and-out classic.

The Mercy Seat (Video Mix)

What A Mess

I always liked the look and idea of Gallon Drunk, even if listening to them could be a test to the ears. And that was the point I suppose- uncompromising, swampy rock that took in free jazz and punk and bumped into several other dark corners of music on the way. They were home for a while for Bagging Area’s favourite punk trumpeter Terry Edwards and frontman James Johnston also served in The Bad Seeds. This is a noisy, live version of their ‘classic’ Some Fool’s Mess, and seems a fairly good way to celebrate the arrival of December.

>Floor Length Hair

Kid Congo Powers played guitar in both The Cramps and The Gun Club (and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds) and his album from two years ago, Dracula Boots, got played regularly round here. I’ve just discovered Kid Congo and his band The Pink Monkey Birds have got a new album out, Gorilla Rose. So that’s on the shopping list. This is from a split single from last year (the other side was by Hunx & His Punx. Anyone?), a thrilling piece of garage rock called Floor Length Hair, that makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up a little.

Well, Most Of All Nothing Much Ever Really Happens

Nick Cave is back next month with his heavily bearded, heavily laced with black humour, heavy blues guitar monster machine Grinderman. This is good news. Some of Nick Cave’s records, from The Birthday party to The Bad Seeds to Grinderman are amongst the finest late 20th century/early 21st century stuff there is. And some of his piano ballads can go on a bit. His recent stuff (Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus from 2004, Dig Lazarus, Dig!!! from 2008 and the first Grinderman album have all been high points. Even if I’ve never loved the entire album from start to finish they’ve all had some great songs- We Call Upon The Author (DLD!!!), No Pussy Blues (Grinderman) and this one Get Ready For Love (AB/TLOO) for starters. Supercharged punk gospel this one, co-written with the Grinderman boys. Top stuff.

The Grinderman single and album are released in September. At grinderman.com you can buy the single on 12″ red vinyl with a poster and a different version of the single with guest guitar solo from Robert Fripp. If you give them your email they’ll let you download the radio edit of Heathen Child for free. If you then get on over to Moggieboy’s Ripped In Glasgow blog you’ll find the eagerly anticipated and very, very good Andrew Weatherall remix of Heathen Child (also free, but less legal). Finally, if you’re not at work you should have a look at the video which features Grinderman dressed as all sorts including Greek heroes, a wolf, hairy monsters, various Gods, lots of facial hair, nudity (male and female), laser beams coming out of eyes and other orifices and a girl in the bath.

01 Get Ready for Love.wma