Monday, August 12, 2013

Album Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Tender Prey

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released Tender Prey in 1988.  The album is dominated by opening track The Mercy Seat, a classic Cave malevolent stomping tale of death row, "the face of Jesus in my soup" before concluding "I'm not afraid to die".  Try following that.  Listening to this album now, you can hear Cave inventing his trademark sound, snarling through Up Jumped The Devil: "who's that yonder all in flames, up jumped the devil and staked his claim" as creepy piano and xylophones provide the music.
Watching Alice is the type of pretty piano ballad Cave does so well, and he plays a fine harmonica midway through.  Mercy is a sort of melodramatic ballad where the band's vocals play fast and loose with actually staying in tune.  Cave breaks out his harmonica again on the Doors-meets-Joy Division of City of Refuge.  Mick Harvey's bassline is practically a Peter Hook homage on the chorus.  What follows, torch song Slowly Goes The Night, sees Nick Cave practically crooning his way through a fine melody.
The melodies throughout the album are really strong, from the strutting Sunday's Slave to the almost jaunty singalong of New Morning, making this an essential Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album.