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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
B-Sides and Rarities
Mute Records

Rating: 0/10 ?

April 26, 2005
Rating: 7/10, 8/10, 9/10, Respectively

Documenting twenty-one years of career in three CD set is not an easy task to accomplish. If you are talking about Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds - who occupy the same gloomy wavelength of fellow musicians Johnny "The Man in Black" Cash and Leonard Cohen - the enterprise is even greater. From the formative years in the early 80s to last year's addition, Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, this is a collection of B-sides, outtakes and extra recordings of Nick Cave, as accompanied by The Bad Seeds.

A founding member of the band, and also a curator of this endeavour, Mick Harvey states that the recording quality here jumps around enormously, from rough-edged tracks to the glowing compositions for soundtracks and projects alike. Put together in some chronological order, B-Sides & Rarities sometimes gets mixed so the whole thing glues together in a more discernible way.

Disc One kicks off with three acoustic takes, running back to back and illustrating a honky-tonk phase of The Bad Seeds. "The Mercy Seat" is an obvious standpoint, a track that was later recycled by Johnny Cash for his American Recordings with producer Rick Rubin. Nick Cave has always been obsessed with death, religion and violence, a triptych that any of these records telescopes in with great detail. For this walk to the death row, the Australian-born crooner incarnates the outlaw and of course claims innocence. This sort of imagery paved the way for Murder Ballads to emerge early in 1996 and gain a huge deal of acclaim.

But before that he started the whole career off with From Her to Eternity in 1984, from whose sessions the contemplative "The Moon Is in the Gutter" is taken. Also deserving some attention are the rendition of a traditional song with "Rye Whisky," the cover of Leadbelly's "Black Betty," the alcohol-soaked but no less overdriven "The Girl at the Bottom of My Glass," and the mesmerizing, jazzy "Cocks 'n' Asses." Issued in 1989, The Bridge is a Neil Young tribute album to which Cave contributes the track "Helpless," also featured here.

Three years prior to that, Nick Cave took a hiatus from recording and playing duties to appear in Wim Wenders' hallucinating flick, Wings of Desire. It was the first of a series of collaborative efforts with the director, the second being the original soundtrack of Wenders' Until the End of the World in 1991, which has given us the Valentine tune "(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World." Featuring the great, great Barry Adamson playing bass, "Cassiel's Song" engulfs the right amount of air to deliver crystal-clear vocals with an urgent, slow appeal. Wrapping up the first record are the pendulum-swinging cover of Cohen's "Tower of Song" and "What Can I Give You?" - a star-gazing hymn, sometimes reminiscent of the hesitant, young crooners of today.

The Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan duet of the inimitable Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" opens up the second CD of this set, along with "Rainy Night in Soho," a loose cover of vintage The Pogues. "Jack the Ripper" unfolds a haunting veil over the already suturing atmosphere of the album, while "Sail Away" calms things down a bit, the latter being taken from the Let Love In sessions, a record that has granted the band an invitation to perform on the 1994 edition of the Lollapalooza tour.

Like Cash, Cave has always shown a love for the alienated and maladjusted and, while The Man in Black himself performed before a detainees-comprised crowd, the latter has a résumé of numbers reflecting on or inspired by the life between bars. "There's No Night Out at the Jail," a cover of an Australian country classic, is one of his most accomplished examples.

Again a jazz number punctuates the sometimes breezeless ensemble, this time it is the obvious "That's What Jazz Is to Me" loosely enhancing the improvisational side of things. Two tracks later, Gallon Drunk saxophonist Terry Edwards shows up to give a hand to the blossoming, hide-and-seek "The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane." Later on runs the previously unreleased version of "Where the Wild Roses Grow," as commissioned by Blixa Bargeld, a founding member who departed from the Bad Seeds two years ago. This is a frightening demarcation from the soft, well-known interpretation by Kylie Minogue. "Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum," originally released as a hidden track on the TV soundtrack of The X-Files is one of Cave's documented takes on religion and the love/hate relationship with the Almighty Lord.

And thus we reach the best part of this set, the one that showcases outlandish material from my favourite Bad Seeds records to date, The Boatman's Call - which, in Cave's words, sounds like a bug being crushed - and the piano-bounced No More Shall We Part. Possible highlights include: a band version of "Black Hair," different from the one featured on The Boatman's Call; the ashtray-full Polaroids, "Grief Came Riding" and "Bless His Ever Loving Heart," both taken from the special edition of No More…; "I Feel So Good," a light-hearted number, part of the Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues TV series, in 2003; the title track from Nocturama; and "Under This Moon," from last year's recording sessions.

If the name-dropping feel of this review got on your nerves, the same happened to me. This is solely due to the fact that almost every one of the compositions enclosed here are, at least, worth mentioning. This will definitely please the archivist fan of Cave and the Bad Seeds and intrigue everyone else. But no one - and I stress, no one - should remain indifferent to the lingering work of one of the most hair-raising troubadours alive. Bad Seeds will be sown in your head and flourish as communal images of moral sneaks, computer geeks, drug freaks and queer bashers. For God, God is in da house, right? Well, it's all part of Nick's game.

Reviewed by Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other reviews by Helder Gomes



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