We're just going to come right out and say it: Nick Cave is a national treasure (in fact, he was named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2017). He's been gracing the airwaves for almost 50 years, from noisy soundscapes to beautiful ballads. He's even authored novels and screenplays, including a Gladiator sequel (yes, the one with Russell Crowe. Crowe's response? 'Don’t like it, mate'). It's fair to say that Nick Cave has given us a lot of reasons to love him over the years, so here's a quick refresher on all there is to love about the Aussie muso.
He was a leader of Melbourne's '70s post-punk scene
In 1979 Nick Cave's first band, The Boys Next Door, hit the scene with the post-punk ballad 'Shivers'. Written by guitarist Rowland S Howard, the song was met with critical acclaim and become an underground success. Twenty years after its release, ABC Television dubbed 'Shivers' as 'possibly Australia's most enduring cult hit'.
In 1980, The Boys Next Door moved to London and renamed themselves The Birthday Party. The band was best known for their sinister sound, with blasphemous lyrics and gothic imagery.
He's mastered a few genres since
After The Birthday Party disbanded in the early '80s, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were born. Since then, the band has released 17 albums and a slew of songs. Over the decades, the band has dabbled in a variety of genres, with no one album being quite like the next.
Alt-rock track 'The Mercy Seat' was key to the critical and commercial success of The Bad Seeds and is considered by many to be Nick Cave's signature song. Since its release, it's been covered by several musicians, including the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash.
Despite their often dark disposition, The Bad Seeds have released a selection of love songs and ballads (with their own twist, of course). 'Straight To You' is much more 'poppy' than many of their other songs, but in true Nick Cave fashion, the lyrics still tell an apocalyptic tale.
Like so much of Cave's work, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is heavily inspired by biblical stories. NME described the album as a 'gothic-psycho-sexual apocalypse'. We're not really sure what that means, but we absolutely love this album regardless.
In 2006, Grinderman formed in London as a side project to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Grinderman went on to release two albums: Grinderman (2007) and Grinderman 2 (2010). Both albums were met with positive reviews, proving Nick Cave's venture into garage rock to be rather worthwhile.
He knows how to write a duet
We all know that Nick Cave has worked with some incredibly talented people, and the results are nothing short of extraordinary. One of our favourite Cave duets is his rendition of 'Henry Lee', with British rock singer and one-time girlfriend PJ Harvey.
It would be a cardinal sin to talk about Nick Cave's duets and not mention 'Where The Wild Roses Grow' with Kylie Minogue. Interestingly, this track is from Murder Ballads, the same album as 'Henry Lee'. Murder Ballads remains The Bad Seeds' best-selling album to date, and with songs like these, it's easy to understand why.
He's a fantastic live performer
With almost half a century of performing under his belt, it's no surprise that he's pretty much mastered the whole live performance thing. And armed with a large back catalogue of songs, every live show is guaranteed to be different from the last.
And he's still releasing great tracks
From their first album in 1984 to their latest in 2019, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds show no signs of stopping. Late last year the band released their double album Ghosteen. The album was Metacritic's highest-rated album of 2019, with Pitchfork describing it as '[The Bad Seeds'] most musically esoteric record'.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds were due to go on tour to support Ghosteen but had to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not one to disappoint, Cave recorded a solo performance at Alexandra Palace in London. The performance will feature songs from Ghosteen, along with Cave's greatest hits and rare tracks from both The Bad Seeds and Grinderman. The full concert film, Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace is being streamed globally this Thursday for one night only.
Until then, we've compiled a playlist of our favourite Nick Cave songs, from us here at TIX 'Straight to You'.