Top 10 Nick Cave Albums Ranked by Awesomeness
Nick Cave Albums: For the better part of the past four decades, Nick Cave has been cranking out some incredible music. We’ve ranked all of his albums in order of awesomeness below. From his formative years leading the often-chaotic band the Birthday Party, through the timeless albums made with the Bad Seeds, Cave has continued to evolve, sharpen, change and redefine his style.
Over the trek of albums with the Boys Next Door, the Birthday Party, the Bad Seeds, and Grinderman, Cave has proved to be consistently engaging. Unlike many lists that rank “worst to best,” Nick Cave stands with a select few who really have no “worst.”
Even on an off day, year or album, he has been able to summon up something of interest. At worst, you could say some are lesser versions of greater works, but they’re all still very listenable.
The recorded side of Nick Cave only tells part of the story. The man is an author, film-maker, actor and perhaps above all else, a dynamic live performer.
Cave has always stayed true to himself and his vision, even if that vision changed or wobbled along the way. It’s safe to say that Nick Cave has had one of the most solid and consistent catalogs of any artist of his generation, and beyond. Though up for debate, we present to you our take on Nick Cave’s recorded works.
Musically, this is just as, if not more, generic than its successor. It’s just hard rock, basically, kind of like Royal Blood. What makes it so much better, you ask? For one thing, this album is chock full of wit and personality. Take “No Pussy Blues” for example.
The song is just as pathetic as you would think. Nick, beginning with the line “I must above all things love myself”, soon opens out into a tirade about how no one will sleep with him no matter what he does.
The song occasionally threatens to become too creepy to be funny, but never quite crosses that boundary. What results is a hilariously satirical but still very fun rock song.
9.The Good Son
For better or worse (well, definitely better) this was Nick Cave’s change from post-punk into the realm of indie rock. The album is a nice mix of melancholy ballads that are specific to this album’s aesthetic, and propulsive rockers that are more reminiscent of Nick’s later albums.
The title track is one of the highlights, full of soft-loud rushes similar to Neil Young’s “Sedan Delivery”, but with that Cave charm that makes his songs unique.
Other highlights of the album include the beautiful “Sorrow’s Child”, a gothic ballad with a strangely celebratory tone, and “The Witness Song”, the album’s fastest and most fun song with a propulsive beat and a rollicking chorus (“WHO WILL BE THE WITNESS”).
Embracing funk licks, soul sass, and porno mustaches, the band’s 14th album was a bolt from the blue, proof that 24 years in the game doesn’t mean you can’t dabble with reinvention. Cave and co’s seedy Grinderman project rubbed off the sensual ‘More News From Nowhere’ and the hot and heavy psych swirls of ‘Midnight Man’.
7. Let Love In
An astonishing record, Let Love In streamlined all of the various elements of the Bad Seeds that had come before. Southern blues, funeral marches, warped punk, clattering street jams, and fulsome romance were all aired. Full of fire and fury, it’s an album that knocks the emotional stuffing out of you and then sees you begging it for more.
6. Your Funeral… My Tria
An album that is, for lack of a better term, rather skaggy. An excellent advert against doing smack, the trippy evil of ‘The Carny’ is a perfect encapsulation of Cave’s storytelling song style. Overall it’s just a little too bleak, the kind of record you can only listen when in a certain mood – suicidal, for instance. Many, many points for the song title ‘Hard On For Love’, however.
5. The Birthday Party – Junk Yard
4. Tender Prey
One of the secrets of the Bad Seeds’ success is how fluid their partnership is. 15 musicians have, at some point, made up part of the ever-changing lineup, to refresh up their sound with new ideas, fresh tics, and weirder kicks.
For their fifth album, Tender Prey, they got in Kid Congo Powers (formerly of the Cramps and the Gun Club) and multi-instrumentalist Roland Wolf to help push the Bad Seeds’ sound into the bolder territory.
Standout track ‘The Mercy Seat’ sounds truly sick: diseased and malformed, with shuddering strings and a stark, serpent-like piano line from Mick Harvey that tries to wind and slither out of the noise-rush.
3. Kicking Against the Pricks’ (1986)
Although it’s an album of covers, ‘Kicking Against the Pricks’ plays as if Cave wrote all the songs. His interpretations are so strong it’s easy to forget these are not from his own pen.
From the dark blues of John Lee Hooker’s “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman” to the electric take on the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” Cave puts his stamp on all these classic songs.
The sincerity of his take on Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” as well as the folk-pop classic “The Carnival Is Over” shows Cave’s knowledge of music history was as significant as his ability to transform it.
2. No More Shall We Part
Released in April 2001, ‘No More Shall We Part’ was Cave’s first album in over four years, during which time Cave struggled to overcome substance abuse issues. Like much of Cave’s work, it is a dark and haunting album, but on the whole, it fails to gain steam the way his albums often do. It’s not bad by any means, but he has certainly done better.
1. Henry’s Dream
‘Henry’s Dream’ is the sound of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at their most confident, powerful and determined. The first notes of “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry” to the final stomp of “Jack the Ripper,” Cave and band are on fire. “Christina the Astonishing,” “When I First Came to Town,” and “I Had a Dream, Joe” are all first-rate flashes of beauty and rage entwined. “Straight to You” is Cave’s updating of Bob Dylan circa 1966 and “Jack the Ripper” is cathartic. The band was truly at the top of their game here and production by long time Neil Young cohort David Briggs helped bring it all to life.
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