Both with the Bad Seeds and his Grinderman project, Nick Cave’s been on a late-career tear this past decade, churning out some of the best work of his career — particularly in the form of last year’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Fittingly, Mute Records is embarking on a campaign to reissue Cave’s entire catalog in double-disc deluxe editions featuring digital remastering and 5.1 surround remixes.
First up: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ first four albums — From Her to Eternity, The Firstborn is Dead, Kicking Against the Pricks and Your Funeral… My Trial — all due in stores April 7. Mute hasn’t announced the release schedule for the other 10 albums, but there will be a deluxe box eventually issued to hold all 14 reissues.
The expanded editions each will include the remastered album in stereo and in a new 5.1 mix, plus a specially commissioned short film by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, plus B-sides and new sleeve notes.
From Mute’s notes on the reissues:
From Her to Eternity (1984)
In 1984 something new was born out of the ashes of The Birthday Party (Cave’s former band), some scratched old records by southern bluesmen, and the last days of the divided Berlin. The narrative art that Cave had begun to master in the later days of The Birthday Party flourishes on From Her to Eternity, in the sick humour of ‘Wings Off Flies’ and ‘A Box For Black Paul’. This is where we first see Cave’s lifelong exploration and fascination with the American South in ‘Swampland’.
The Firstborn is Dead (1985)
The Firstborn is Dead is an album rich with references to the blues and bluesmen, the American South, and especially to Elvis Presley. Recorded in late 1984, but not released until June 1985, the title is a nod to Jesse Garon Presley, Elvis’ stillborn identical twin. The Firstborn is Dead is an album that helped to define Cave’s new role, his niche on the map as fire-and-brimstone preacher and post-modern ironist, as a wizard with words, as a master of the heartfelt howl that’s tinted with a twisted smile. Much of his work since has taken the blues as a basis, before spiraling off into exhilarating new sparks and shards…
Kicking Against the Pricks (1986)
In 1986, the year Kicking Against the Pricks — a cover album — was released, then 28-year-old Nick Cave was the object of both reverence and antagonism in the contemporary press. In interviews he’s baited, held up as genius, soothsayer and arrogant, autistic nutcase. “Kicking against the pricks” is a biblical lift, referring to an ox kicking in irritation at the sharpened rod — the goad or prick — used by the driver when tilling soil. It would seem there were plenty of goads and an abundance of pain to deal with in Cave’s life. Due to a lack of new songs, as Cave was in the middle of writing his novel “And the Ass Saw the Angel,” a covers album paying tribute to everyone from Johnny Cash to Velvet Underground looked like the thing to do. In the end it would break him into a much wider audience.
Your Funeral… My Trial (1986)
While on previous work it wasn’t entirely clear whether he was in charge of his demons/obsessions, Your Funeral… now sounds like the watershed moment when a proper measure of artistic control was gained, to be subsequently built upon. In Your Funeral… My Trial you see the erratic progress of Cave and his Seeds: a literate Australian obsessed with the illiterate American Deep South, backed by a motley Peckinpah-ragged band of Euro/Aussie players, peripatetically resident in London, Brazil, and Berlin. Sometimes you may have loved the idea of it all — torch songs on fire; abjection, narcotics, breakdown — as much as, if not more than, the actual recordings: Cave as cultured rock n’ role decadent, half Georges Bataille, half Jerry Lee Lewis; or, equal parts Edgar Allan Poe and Elvis Aaron Presley.