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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Henry’s Dream (1992), Murder Ballads (1996), and Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus (2004)

December 3, 2020

[Albums 811. 812, 813 / 1001]

“That’s an interesting take on Nick Cave”
– Katrina Onstad, The Weekend Effect

After listening to a hat trick of Nick Cave albums this week, here is my (interesting?) take.

When I listened to The Undertones, I suggested that I’d be in the mood for them, to borrow one of their track names, 9 Times Out Of 10.

However, in the event that The Undertones were not immediately available, there are plenty of substitutes that would fit the bill.

Perhaps imperfectly, but much like when a recipe calls for buttermilk, adding lemon juice to milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes prior to whisking will still get the job done.


With Nick Cave, he’s more of an artist for which I have to be, to borrow a Glenn Miller chart, In The Mood.

Murder Ballads and its grisly crimes of passion?

Henry’s Dream and its theatrical delivery?

The raucous Abattoir Blues, packaged alongside the more subdued Lyre of Orpheus?

The three albums are all quite different, though each is unmistakably Nick Cave.

And it’s possible that none of them would fit seamlessly as an all-day, every-day soundtrack.

That being said, when the timing is right, there is simply no suitable alternative to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (incidentally, an all-timer of a backing band name).

Instead, it’s more of a Dos Equis tagline – I don’t always listen to theatrical gothic / punk blues / experimental art rock…but when I do, I prefer Nick Cave.


Verbalize the Positive

I quite like Katrina Onstad’s writing, both her fiction & non-fiction!

From → 1990s, 2000s

  1. Nice post. Don’t know Nick as I’ve never been able to get in to him, but great he has several albums on the list.

    • He had another one (Boatman’s Call) that I reviewed in my first year – 8 years later or so, it was good to be back!

  2. Henry’s Dream is my favourite of the three – I love that “I am the captain of my pain” song.

  3. jprobichaud permalink

    Well, there’s a triumvirate of albums if I ever saw one. I’ve been getting more and more into Nick Cave with each year that passes. Man spins a good yarn, no?

  4. Maybe one day I’ll cave and give this guy a try.

  5. You nailed it with this “when the timing is right, there is simply no suitable alternative to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.” Great idea to listen to a bunch together, he’s brilliant. We all need more Cave in our lives. I want the new one, just him and a piano… yum.

    Someone told me once that Henry’s Dream was named for ROLLINS (they’re buddies). I want to believe it’s true but I dunno.

    • Cheers, Aaron – I enjoyed immersing in the Nick Cave & the Bad seeds world.
      And I’m cheering for that ROLLINS story to be true!

  6. A+ exceptional artist and band. The three you chose are top class works, though you can’t really go wrong with anything they’ve put out.
    If you get chance to watch 1992’s ‘The Road to God Knows Where/Live at The Paradiso – go for it, lots of early rambunctious classic stuff!

  7. Although a countryman, I’ve not really cracked the Cave DNA code. But as (I think) you’re saying, his is a unique and individual voice, whether ranting, declaiming or whispering.

  8. He duels with Tom Waits for the honour of being my favourite solo artist ever. Henry’s Dream is probably my favourite, he sounded a lot less tame back then.

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