Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds reissues: Let Love In / Murder Ballads / The Boatman’s Call / No More Shall We Part

Following the reissue of the first four Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums in 2009, and the next three in 2010 (about which I wrote on 4/4/10) the next phase of re-issues are now upon us.  This week Let Love In, Murder Ballads, The Boatman’s Call and  No More Shall We Part get the re-issue treatment.  As with the previous albums, you get a remastered CD plus a DVD containing the album in 5.1, extra tracks, videos, and and an episode of the Do You Love Me? series of documentaries about each album.  These interviews are fascinating, comprising of opinions from band members, associates, friends, fans, journalists, and even in the instance of The Boatman’s Call, a school teacher who taught Lime Tree Arbour to her class.

One of the highlights of each episode of the interviews is hearing Blixa Bargeld recall his experiences of the writing and recording process.  Hearing him describe the noise gate they used during the making of Let Love In is certainly worth buying that album just for that.  It is also, from my own personal perspective, wonderful to hear Sophia Burn wax lyrical about how great a bassist Martyn P Casey is.  He’s certainly one of the biggest influences on my own bass playing.

One thing I didn’t know was that apparently all the band members did actually undergo hypnosis, with varying degrees of success, during the making of the video to Loverman.

During the interviews on the Murder Ballads DVD, I learnt that there are 64 deaths during the course of the album.  But it isn’t really all that dark an album.  As Steve Gullick says, Stagger Lee is “funny as fuck”.  You only have to look at Nick Cave’s t-shirt in the video to realise there is at least an element of macabre humour in this song.  I think that’s one of the things that makes the album so successful.  A concept album with 64 deaths could end up being terribly dark, and adding humour to it could be seen as a slightly self-aware, embarrassed, side-step.  But in the case of Murder Ballads, the balance of the macabre, the dark, the sinister, the poignant and the hilarious is so utterly perfect, it is possible to take something away from it no matter what your mood.

The “absolutely devastating” (in the words of Joe Harland) opening line to Into My Arms, the lead song of The Boatman’s Call, were the first of Nick Cave’s lyrics I paid any notice to, being as it was the first song by the band that I can remember properly listening to.  I heard Mark and Lard play it on Radio 1, and subsequently bought The Best Of… to introduce myself to their back catalogue.   The rest, as you can probably tell from how much I have to say on the band now, is history.

Into My Arms will always be special to me for the above reason.  But my emotional feelings about it are always tempered when I ask myself, “but isn’t (Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?, from the same album, equally amazing?”.  “Yes”, is always my answer, and it was interesting to hear Warren Ellis relay the story of how this song came to Nick while in the back of a cab.

Of No More Shall We Part, Bella Freud observes that it contains a lot of sadness but this sadness “unlocks doors”.  This album has “brilliant strings arrangments…absolute genius” (Keith Jopling).  The arrival of Warren Ellis, now a full time member of the band was apparrent here.  “Noone else plays violin like him” (Nick Zinner).  Also, the “pure folk” backing vocals of the McGarrigle sisters adds an “ancient wisdom to procedings” (Kirk Lake). Of Love Letter, Simon Breed says that with “rhymes that are a joke, you have to get them the right side of a wince”.  The line in question here is “Love letter, love letter, go get her, go get her“.  Being able to make such sentiments not sound corny is one of Nick Cave’s great assets as a writer of romantic songs.

It was interesting to hear an analysis of the meanings of some songs discussed.  Tom McRae describes God Is In The House as “the most vicious attack on fundamental religion of any sort, and hilariously funny at the same time.”

There is a lot of talk on the No More Shall We Part DVD about the video for Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow.  It is described as “the best video ever made, without a doubt” (Andy Fraser) and “just the most fantastic, unexpected, surreal, visual rendering” (Jane Pollard).

I’ve only really scratched the surface with what I’ve written here.   There is so much more of interest on the additional DVDs, and the albums themselves sound amazing.  If you’re a fan and already have these albums, but are unsure of whether it’s worth getting the re-issues, there is certainly enough to make them a worthwhile addition to your collection.  If you haven’t got these albums, I can’t recommend these too highly.  Go on, let love in…

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2 thoughts on “Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds reissues: Let Love In / Murder Ballads / The Boatman’s Call / No More Shall We Part

  1. avatarRalph

    Hey Albert – cool to read your take on Iain & Jane’s docos. We love them and enjoy seeing the characters and their analysis of songs. We have all the previous re-ssues but only have Let Love In from the latest batch – my wife won it off the cool radio show in Auckland New Zealand, 95bFm. Troy does a peice in his show about the re-issues & we’ve still got No More Shall We Part to go – one of our favourite albums. My wife is passionate about his work and thinks it’s just wonderful to hear how his work resonates with other people. Because his work is most certainly very affecting in a wonderful way. Our friend Matt Crawely, also a bFm DJ, helped Iain & Jane get hold of the participants and also appears in the docos. What a job to score!
    Cheers
    Ralph

  2. avatarAlbert Post author

    That’s fantastic Ralph, thanks for the comment! :-)
    I’ve wondered during each episode of the docos how they were put together, how much prompting each interviewee was given. All the docos scan really well; they have been put together extremely well.

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