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Murder Ballads

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

1996

Buy At Rough Trade
Murder Ballads
Album Summary

Murder Ballads is the ninth studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, released in 1996 on Mute Records. As its title suggests, the album consists of new and traditional murder ballads, a genre of songs that relays the details (and often consequences) of crimes of passion. "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a duet featuring Cave singing with Kylie Minogue, was a hit single and received two ARIA Awards in 1996. Other prominent guest musicians on the album include PJ Harvey and Shane MacGowan.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.09

Votes

11510

Genres

  • Rock

Reviews

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Sun Aug 29 2021
1

This is really not my thing. It felt like the ramblings of a half stoned old man in some seedy bar. If that's your cup of tea you'll love it, but to me it was boring, depressing and badly sung.

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Mon Nov 09 2020
1

I felt like I should like this album but, the more I listened the more I hated it. The musicality was good but the songwritiing was lazy. You could tell which songs were traditional songs that Cave left mostly intact and which ones he took liberties with. In every case, it seemed that the changes were designed to shock listeners and not to make the songs better. Additionally, Nick Cave's vocal performance on almost every song on this album was sub-par which was surprising to me b/c, in the past, I've enjoyed his performances. Overall, a very disappointing album and one that I frankly am mystified is on this list.

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Wed Mar 10 2021
5

A wonderful album. Each track an excellent story of murder in different styles. Features two duets, one with Cave's former partner PJ Harvey and the other with another of Australia's finest exports, Kylie. The duet with Kylie I think represents the attention to songwriting that both artists are appreciated for. Cave and Minogue still perform the track together today. I believe this album, along with the previous Let Love In highlights Nick Cave's final step in transition from hard post-punk toward more experimental alternative rock and the run of albums following Murder Ballads go from strength to strength. It feels like Cave unlocked his USP in Murder Ballads and Let Love In which had always been there but needed the platform and right moment to bring it to the front. Today Nick Cave plays more of a piano man persona but the core link back to Murder Ballads is still at the forefront of his performances.

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Thu Aug 25 2022
2

56/100: Every song on this album is basically a worse version of “Ballad of Hollis Brown” and the best song on the album, “Death Is Not The End,” is just a Bob Dylan cover anyway. In fact, if you ever wondered what you get when you cross Bob Dylan with Ted Bundy, well here’s your answer. I can’t think of a bigger red flag than someone getting in their car and blasting the song “Stagger Lee.” Reading the lyrics of these songs while listening along was a deeply uncomfortable experience. I guess that speaks to the power of Nick Cave’s writing and it could be argued that’s what makes this album good, but it’s also the reason I’m rating this album so poorly. I can handle and even appreciate a troubling story in a song when it’s written well and has a thought-provoking moral like Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown,” but this album is not that. I mean what type of message is “The Kindness of Strangers?” The final line is “So mothers keep your girls at home / Don’t let them journey out alone / Tell them this world is full of danger.” This album feels like murder ballads for the sake of writing about murder, which is the most troubling part to me. I can never see a situation in which I would want to listen to this album again, and if anyone ever hears me or anyone else listening to this, please call the police or a therapist.

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Sat Feb 13 2021
1

only listened to the first half but i feel like that's all i needed to hear. idk maybe my mind isn't sophisticated enough but i just don't get it sad face emoji

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

I liked this more than I thought I would. The dark storytelling reminds me a lot of Eminem, with more of a Johnny Cash spin on the beats. I hope death is not the end.

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Wed Apr 21 2021
5

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds open their "Murder Ballads" album with a deep-voiced Nick on "Song of Joy" - a spookish tall tale about a lady named Joy... or possibly about the mere concept of joy itself. Nick's storytelling is brooding and gothy, and I'm here for it! And after 4 minutes of this 6+ song... I can trust this album will be a horror movie for the ears. "Stagger Lee" is another story-telly song about a "bad mother fucker called Stagger Lee" and the bartender does not care. It's campy and fun! And devilishly spooky! "Henry Lee" is the next track on the album and it opens with guest vocals from PJ Harvey (I saw her open for U2 once when I was 11!). Another melancholy tale with accompanying piano and bass AND a pleasantly catching "la la la la" from the duet. The next track, "Lovely Creature" has a build up of tension that is carried throughout, with backing vocals from an unfeatured lady (and more "la la las") that I can only describe as "spooky consistent". "Where the Wild Roses Grow" features vocals by Kylie Minogue (she is the wild rose!) and is another spooky tall tale pop-ish goth song with piano and string arrangements that would make Ben Moody blush. "The Curse of Millhaven" comes in hot and has a head-boppy percussion with an accordion, and it's very fun! Reminds me a lot of My Chemical Romance (Mama comes to mind)... "even God's children they have to die". "The Kindness of Strangers" is yet another murder tale, about a woman named Mary who is tied to her bed with a bullet in her head. This track features an upbeat piano rhythm with guitar and drums. It's easy listening! This track also features a crying woman, which isn't very easy listening, but it is fantastic story telling. The next track, "Crow Jane," continues Nick's storytelling of murder and guns. This song features more piano and even more bass and drums. It's slow paced and has me tapping my foot and bopping my head. "O'Malley's Bar" is the penultimate track on this album, and at 14:28, it's by far the longest song (it's nearly 4 songs worth of song!). Nick does some adlibbing over some piano plucks while singing about a killing spree and how it makes his dick feel, for which I have the utmost respect. My personal favorite line from this track: "And with an ashtray as big as a fucking really big brick I split his skull in half His blood spilled across the bar Like a steaming scarlet brook" After that truly horrific tale of O'Malley's bar, the album comes to a close with "Death Is Not the End" (featuring Anita Lane, Shane MacGowan, PJ Harvey, and Kylie Minogue) - a cover of Bob Dylan - and it's a truly wonderful closer. "Just remember, that death is not the end." A haunting, yet comforting message for the pale, pasty, gothic audience Nick and his friends are surely targeting. Overall I really enjoyed this album. It's weird, it's disturbing, it's haunting. It is simply wonderful! Favorite track: The Curse of Millhaven Honorable mention: O'Malley's Bar

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Tue May 09 2023
4

Rarely do you see a more blunt and descriptive title for a record. This is about an hour of MURDER BALLADS. Listen bud, guy who is thinking about trying Murder Ballads: Consider where you are at mentally. If you are not in a tip-top mental state, maybe skip Murder Ballads. This album is brutal. It's a great listen but I was not ready when I heard it. Alright, now if you are ready to hear some f****d up s**t listen to this one. The tracks here are very cinematic if that makes sense. It is very descriptive of some of the worst concepts I have heard in music. Cave's writing is extremely verbose, but he has you hanging on every word. Fantastic record.

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Fri Jul 02 2021
5

Cinquenta e três. Pobre Sylvia. Nunca lhe encontraram o corpo. Esqueceram-se de procurar no lago. MotA: Stagger Lee "Have mercy on me, sir Allow me to impose on you / I have no place to stay And my bones are cold right through"

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Sun Dec 19 2021
5

I already adore this wonderful silly album. Stagger Lee deserves awards just for its ridiculous use of the word motherfucker. It's hilarious. Henry Lee with PJ Harvey and Wild Roses with Kylie are both darker and moodier - and have a nice balance - Cave is murderer in one and victim in the other. Curse of Millhaven and O Mallets Bar are the highlights for me. Gloriously dark silliness. The latter is 15 minutes long bat feels like three. And Death is not the End is like Band Aid but not for idiots. Perfect perfect perfect.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

This is one of the weirdest things I've listened to in years.

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Wed Apr 13 2022
5

I try to hold out on giving out fives, especially so soon to each other, but man, I love this album. Some insane compositions throughout. A

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Sun May 14 2023
5

this is a new all-time favorite album. fuckin awesome

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Fri Apr 28 2023
4

I remember listening to these songs on the radio late at night when Nick Cave was on some radio program when I was a teenager. I remember keeping the radio very quiet because I was supposed to be sleeping and these songs were not rated PG :-)

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Thu May 11 2023
3

It is commendable that Nick Cave can write songs about such gruesome and unpleasant subject matter without sounding too grim. He does set the atmosphere and mood admirably with his "Tom Waits-like"growl with interesting storytelling. I'm not a big fan, but I'm intrigued and I'll categorize this under the, "listen again later" file.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
2

1001 Albums Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads - Song of Joy. Interesting storytelling and vocal style. The orchestration in the background music is interesting. Intriguing but not distracting from the story. - Stagger Lee. Cool vibe and style. Incredibly profane for kind of no reason. Not sure who the audience is for this album yet. - Henry Lee. PJ Harvey gives a nice vocal. It’s nice to have a song with a little more structure after the first two songs. This is the first song that wasn’t 2 minutes too long as well. - Lovely Creature. Really cool background music again that is intriguing and stays out of the way. By this point in the album though, we’re getting dangerously close to “didn’t we already hear this song”. - Where the Wild Roses Grow. Nice to have some nice string arrangement for a change of instrumentation. Kylie Minogue gives a nice vocal performance too and her voice fits well with Nick Cave’s. - The Curse of Millhaven. Sounds like a circus said “okay, we need an opening act where the ringleader comes out and tells a weird story behind a sort of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” vibe from the band. Again, at least 3 minutes too long. - The Kindness of Strangers. Back to our normal instrumentation and back to a 6/8, wandering style. - Crow Jane. Sounds like the kind of thing that happens at a lame open mic night jam. The kind of thing that people think is “jazz” when it 100% isn’t. - O’Malley’s Bar. Finally, a different groove and feel. Reminds me of a Jim Morrison, Doors-style vamp. Nice to have some actual structure again too. Probably the best tune on the album BUT IT’S 14 minutes long for no reason. - Death is Not the End. This is the most “normal” song on the album and feels super loose, like they did this in 1 take in the studio with no rehearsal. I’d rate this album a 2/10. I appreciate the risk and uniqueness but I personally would never choose to listen to it ever again. I know it has an audience but I’m not a member of it.

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Sun May 30 2021
5

El hitazo (jaja) "Where the Wild Roses Grow" es apenas una pizca de este disco tan hermoso. Lo curioso es que esa belleza parta de canciones que enmarcan asesinatos y, con todo, se oye tan seductor todo. Los instrumentos, la voz de Cave, las colaboraciones, las inspiraciones (canciones tradicionales) y los géneros, medio blues, medio folk, medio rock, construyen una atmósfera bastante disfrutable. Se me hace música como atemporal (?). Dicho eso, también, por alguna asociación que quizá se deba mucho a Nick Cave, pienso que es música como para vampiros y otras criaturas de la noche. En fin, lo celebro mucho y entre mis favs, sí, la que es con Kylie, también la que es con PJ sólo por oírla, "The Curse of Millhaven" y "The Kindness of Strangers", pero no hay skips aquí, todo bien. 10/10

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Sun May 30 2021
5

Por lo general me cagan las baladas pero sí son de asesinatos y asesinos y gente muerte, pos está chido.

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Wed Mar 24 2021
5

I loved this album. Why have I never listened to Nick Cave? Definitely need to check out more.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
5

Stagger Lee: non so perché mi ricorda un po' i Modest Mouse più moderni nonostante i contenuti espliciti. Lovely Creature: pure questo c'ha il basso un po' Modest Mouse. Cioè chiaramente so i Modest Mouse che hanno il basso Nick Cave & Bad Seeds. In conclusione: sono le due di notte e io aspettavo Nick Cave al varco. Non lo avevo mai ascoltato veramente prima di oggi e devo dire di essere rimasto davvero stupito. Questo album mi ha totalmente sorpreso, ha chiaramente ispirato molta della musica che mi piace. La prima metà dell'album per me è da 5, l'interpretazione di Kylie Minogue è fantastica come pure PJ Harvey fa la sua figura. La seconda parte per me è più da 4, nonostante O'Malley's bar sia comunque un gran pezzo è un po' eccessivo. La cover di Dylan nel finale è un tocco da maestro. Per me sto album è un 4.75 ma non posso dargli 4 e quindi, finalmente, dò il mio primo 5 ad un album che non avevo mai ascoltato (ma il primo morale è Stevie). Sicuramente lo riascolterò e approfondirò anche il vecchio Nick.

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

Hah hah, this album is gloriously deranged! I've long been a huge fan of it. Fave track - "The Curse of Milhaven", I mean, c'mon, almost every verse has a laugh out loud funny line. On this listen through, "Lovely Creature" really stood out to me, too...

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Thu Dec 02 2021
5

Cool lyrics telling vivid stories, awesome style

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Fri Jan 14 2022
5

p788, 1996, 5 stars Nick Cave :) all the favourites: Stagger Lee, Henry Lee, Curse of Milhaven, O'Malley's Bar

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Mon Feb 07 2022
5

Rating: 9/10 Best songs: Stagger Lee, Henry Lee, Lovely creature, Where the wild roses grow

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Fri Apr 08 2022
5

Znałem. Nick Cave jest świetny, mega klimat, faktycznie album ma sens głównie liryczny i słuchanie go ot tak w tle nie pozwala w pełni doświadczyć jego jakości. Wokalistki pasują do utworów, w których są. Album mroczny, brutalny, nietypowy. Highlighty - Song of Joy (świetnie się tam rozwija akcja) i Death is Not The End

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Fri Apr 08 2022
5

Zdecydowanie nie zawiodłam się tytułem - pierwszy album od dłuższego czasu, który przesłuchałam uważnie zamiast tylko puścić w tle i generalnie takie 4.5/5, ale daję 5 za super teksty.

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Wed Apr 13 2022
5

Great album. I think on a single listen, I'd give this a 4. However, I suspect it'd grow on me with a few more listens even more, so I'm going to give it a 5/5.

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Sat Apr 30 2022
5

Exceptional. I obviously knew the duet with Kylie, but I loved pretty much all the other songs too. Not quite a concept album, but with a clear theme, and musically really interesting

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Mon May 16 2022
5

10/10 it’s been a while since I heard a Nick Cave album, he has so an incredible sense of world building he really plays to his strengths and creates something phenomenal every time, one of the greatest artists I know and probably one of my new favorite albums

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Mon May 30 2022
5

WE ARE SEEING NICK CAVE TODAY

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Mon Jun 06 2022
5

This is an awesome album. Is it gospel rock style? That's honestly the best I can describe it. Not gospel content, though. So much fun to listen to

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Tue Jun 14 2022
5

PSA: I've loved, worshipped, and adored Nick Cave since I first heard The Birthday Party back in the early 80s. He can do no wrong for me. Every album is uniquely Nick, every album is magnificent, and this is one of his finest albums. Dark, brooding, expletive ridden, and hilariously funny. I often smile at the thought of the many people that bought the album because they liked Where The Wild Roses Grow. Oh to have seen their faces when Stagger Lee kicked in.

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Tue Jun 28 2022
5

Heel duister album, Ballads afgewisseld met af en toe iets steviger. En eindigend met een soort van positieve noot (al klinkt het licht ironisch) Topalbum wel

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Wed Jun 29 2022
5

All I can say after this, is: "Wat kon Seedorf nou gebeuren toen hij van elf meter schoot? Er is leven, er is leven na de dood."

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Tue Jul 05 2022
5

Super album. Can't wait to see the great man again later this year.

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Sat Jul 09 2022
5

Finally, this is an album with some gristle and grit by Nick Cave that I can absolutely get behind.

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Sat Jul 09 2022
5

I know an album will find it's way into my heart when it has a combination of excellent vision and excellent execution. This album knows what it wanted to be, and achieved that idea flawlessly. Not to mention, the dark vintage Americana vibe that runs through this album's blood is always an appreciated aesthetic. This is a new favorite of mine for sure.

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Fri Aug 05 2022
5

Interesting. But feels slightly cliche in a way. But worth a listen

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Mon Sep 05 2022
5

Exceptional. Sucks you into another darker world and holds you there.

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Tue Sep 27 2022
5

Literally the perfect mix of rock and country, could listen to this voice for hours

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Sun Oct 16 2022
5

Holy crap. How could an entire album of songs describing multiple murders be so entertaining? My first listen to Nick Cave, and I can see this is his forte. Sort of like Tom Waits in his genius, but gleefully darker. When Waits mourns it is with his whole heart and the remorse is terrible. When Cave mourns, as in the case of Mary Bellows in the song Kindness of Strangers, it’s almost matter of fact; the empathy of the mortician. A wild ride that makes you almost laugh at how grisly some of the songs are, with excellent guest appearances and fabulous performances by all the musicians. There may not be anything like this album.

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Fri Nov 11 2022
5

Another rainy day album that was nice to listen to in the background of working.

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Sat Nov 19 2022
5

Zeker een album wat in mijn ogen iconisch is. Toen ik het voor het eerst hoorde was ik onder de indruk en dat is zo gebleven. Lekker Nick (en jij hebt het ook zeer goed gedaan Kylie)

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Wed Nov 23 2022
5

Nick Cave is amazing. I think I prefer Boatman's Call but still a brilliant album

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Tue Nov 29 2022
5

Super album, murders good…

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Fri Dec 09 2022
5

I remember seeing this gothic giant for the first time ever when he and pop Princess Kylie performed Wild Roses on TOTP. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but my ears were mesmerised and have been ever since by Cave’s voice

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Sun Dec 18 2022
5

I absolutely adored the quirky weirdness of this album. The vocals are a little off, but in a way that actually feels totally appropriate for the vibe they were going for and the music was absolutely amazing the entire time. I can't say O'Malley's Bar is a good song per se, but it was an absolute treat that only gets better on relistens, they absolutely earned that 14 minutes. Best tracks: Lovely Creature, Where the Wild Roses Grow, The Curse of Millhaven, O'Malley's Bar, and Death is Not the End.

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

Me ha gustado bastante... ¿Tanto cómo para vinilo? ¡Sí!

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Wed Dec 28 2022
5

Great album. A more modern Folsom Prison.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

PREFS : TOUT MOINS PREF : RIEN

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Sat Jan 07 2023
5

A bravura performance from Nick Cave, a dark, twisted, gothic album full of, well, murder. The imagination, creativity and storytelling is incredible and yet the tunes are still singalong toe tapping. PJ Harvey and Kylie join in for the fun. Cave can conjure such incredible imagery and stories from some fictitious past. Few albums as unique as this in this list.

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Sat Jan 14 2023
5

Today's album is my second by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. This is the album once recommended to me by a friend. This is a very dark album, whose entire theme circles around death and murder. Listening to this album is like listening to a true crime documentary. Nick's writing style and vocal delivery gives an overwhelming feeling of dread and gloom. He pairs with female vocalists such as: Kylie Minogue and PJ Harvey to inject some beauty to his baritone voice. The whole record proceeds through so much death and murder, and finally ends with a song of hope (a cover of Bob Dylan's "Death is Not the End") to pull the listener out of the darkness. This album is beautiful in the most fucked of ways. Nick has a way of genre jumping between albums. The first album of his I reviewed was called The Boatman's Call, which was an intimate acoustic album which featured Nick singing with piano accompaniment. Very soft and mellow. This album was rock oriented (kind of goth rock in a way) and VERY dark. I loved this album. At first, the shock of the material kind of turned me off, but eventually, it won me over, and upon second listen, I really looked past that, and really listened. This is a piece of art! The only way to enjoy this record is by listening front to back. Favourite songs: Stagger Lee, Where the Wild Roses Grow, The Curse of Millhaven, The Kindness of Strangers, Song of Joy, O'Malley's Bar, Death is Not The End Least favourite song: Crow Jane 5/5

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Sat Jan 21 2023
5

What is there to say about this album that hasn't been said. It's dark, funny, profane, clever and beautiful. Beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.

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Wed Jan 25 2023
5

Maravillosa sorpresa. La verdad viendo la duración y demás, me esperaba algo aburrido, repetitivo o agotador y sin embargo fue un disfrute. No escuché casi guitarras, mucha presencia de coros, órganos, pianos y bajos. Percusión a full. Excelente.

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

Obviamente já com o título do disco o conceito envolve o ouvinte. Com maestria de um mestre de contos de terror ou suspense, a criação musical criou uma atmosfera única e arrebatadora que me deixou sem fôlego. As letras, a música, a atuação vocal e instrumental, além das participações das cantoras, tudo se uniu de uma maneira que me deixou arrebatado. A mistura de blues, rock e folk fortaleceu a narrativa macabra e assustadora. Cada faixa parecia ser uma peça de um quebra-cabeça sinistro e inquietante, sendo que o quê realmente importava era conhecer todas e não buscar montá-lo.

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Tue Mar 14 2023
5

There's something I find comforting with the over-to-top sincerity performance of this album. Sure, it's about death and murder, but it's also really playful. And PJ Harvey is an automatic win with me. I don't know what about this that scratches an aural itch for me. The performances are tight. The mood is atmospheric. The mix on the bass is astounding. Jesus, Cave is doing a duet with Kylie Minogue on an album about MURDER! I love this to no end. The intro on the Curse of Millhaven is exactly the kind of controlled musical violence that I love. The Kindness of Strangers is really sad. Very good job, Mr. Cave and the Bad Seeds.

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Sun Mar 19 2023
5

Ah, the edgiest of edgelord albums. The music is great, the lyrics are... Um. Edgelordy. If it wasn't so good, it'd probably be on some kind of watchlist. "I am the man for which no god waits, For which the whole world yearns" is a cracking line though.

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Fri Mar 31 2023
5

One of my favourite albums so I'm not unbiased here. Kinda like a novelty theme and done with glee and style. There are textures and colours here with the emphasis on red. Every track stands alone with the theme running through it and a tale to tell with a variety of guest stars. So choose your poison?

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Fri Apr 28 2023
5

Only Nick I'd heard before now was the Peaky Blinders theme, and this album has those vibes all over it. Love it.

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Wed May 31 2023
5

Love the addition of the women's voices throughout.

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Sun Jun 25 2023
5

Well, I've counted. And unless I've lost count, at least 65 people are brutally murdered during the course of this album. Plus maybe a whole lot more, whose exact demise is not directly specified... Oh! And there was one dog, too. Crucified on a door. What a crazy album. I do remember feeling a little queasy during my first listen though. I knew what the record was all about beforehanded, and started counting the deaths on that very first listen. But I didn't expect the tally to be *this* high, to be honest... It's hard to get an accurate death count anyway, because there are no precise numbers for how many people died in the fire Lottie set in the Bella Vista slums. And speaking of unreliable narrators, there's also the doctor in "Song of Joy". It is never clear whether he is telling the truth or whether he is the killer, making up this story to gain access to people's homes (and a third possibility is that the story is true, but that his grief has turned him into a copycat killer). But whatever the "truth" really is here, this concern about the reliability of storytelling makes "Song Of Joy" a very apt opener for a record named *Murder Ballads*, and it's one of my favorite songs on this album filled with so many horrific wonders. As you go to the next tracks, subtle menace indeed quickly turns into full-blown terror. Which doesn't mean some things are not kept ambiguous. The other fate that's left hanging in the air in the record is the one of Nellie Brown in "Stagger Lee" for instance. Stagger Lee never directly describes her murder after he shoots Billy Dilly in the head. But the female screams you can hear at the end of the song make it pretty obvious she doesn't survive the night either. Slaughters abound in this record, and the most memorable of them is to be found in "O'Malley's Bar". Devoid of any free will, and describing himself the way an author would describe a fictional character, the unnamed protagonist of this song is impossible to forget, as is his murderous rampage in said bar, described with all sorts of graphic details and psychologically harrowing comments about the victims. I think there's almost a "meta" aspect to this song, by the way. Somehow, the story we have here--the longest and final one on the album--presents a character who's related to Cave's position as an artist in the sense that he wishes to accomplish something extraordinary. But given the gruesome topic he addresses here, said artist/storyteller knows his work will never be universally recognized anyway, and that *he*'ll be the one ending up being labeled as a "piece of work", instead of his made-up character. This here is a very personal interpretation of the meaning of the song, I'll grant you that. But whatever the (nut)case may be, a shiver went down my spine during its conclusion, when the police takes the killer away in their car. The last thing you hear Cave doing between moans and rasps and growls is... him counting. Just as I had been doing since the start of the album. I'm not surprised Cave loves stuff like Flannery O'Connor after listening to it, by the way. Because somehow, as gratuitous and violent as the concept of this record sounds and looks, Cave never loses the human angle here. You *feel* for these characters. Empathy, pity, sadness, contempt, terror, disgust, awe... Just as in any good piece of fiction. What makes us feel empathy for the victims is that they all have such colourful memorable names and details about them, for instance. It is superb lyric-writing to identify the characters. Particularly in "O'Malleys Bar", where each victim has a description of their personality or physical appearance given to the listener. They're a sample of humanity at large. Normal, simple, humble, innocent folks leading normal simple lives, here gathered in the wrong place at the wrong time... It's all in the details, like in the great novels or short stories of old. And those details are conveyed by the greatness of the writing, with a few very memorable one-liners here and there, up there with best (and most shocking) lines Eminem could come up with. One example: "Rorschach & Prozac now everything is groovy" Cave sure has a knack to convey the "voice" of his doomed characters in a very striking manner, doesn't he? And let's not forget the music: of course, this being a narrative-driven album, the music is mostly used as background for Nick's menacing voice, but it also does a great job emphasizing all the key moments in the stories that it deserves high praise as well. It's lush, it's moody, it's evocative, it's theatrical. It's all it needs to be for such an original project. Besides, with "Henry Lee" and "Where The Wild Roses Grow", Cave wrote perfect duets giving welcome respite during the LP's tracklist--even if they're still about tragedy and murder. The first of those duets was sung with his old flame PJ Harvey, and it's a delicate performance through and through. As for "Where the Wild Roses Grow, everyone knows this stunner was performed with fellow aussie pop star Kylie Minogue, and most will remember that the tune was quite a surprising indie hit back in the day. It cracks me up every time I think of unassuming listeners liking that latter single on the radio and buying the LP because of it. They were certainly in for a wild ride--one they probably didn't expect in the first place. This album was made for such a list. It is indeed "essential" in the sense that it uses the album format and turns it into something else altogether. And you don't have many records like that in the world. So even if *Murder Ballads* is the sort of LP you would NOT play for a family function, a christmas dinner party or a casual evening with friends--therefore limiting the occasions you would listen to it--it still fully deserves its 5/5 grade here. Great concept, great songwriting, awesome execution... And when I say "execution", you probably get what I'm saying here. Right? Number of albums left to review: 517 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 232 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 110 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more essential to me): 141

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Sun Jul 16 2023
5

Easiest 5 stars ever. This album has it all, sadness, sorrow, hope, joy and a whole bunch of gruesome murders. The Bad Seeds at the top of their game here, though to be fair they are on most albums. Ending it all with the Dylan cover 'Death Is Not The End' is a stroke of genius. Long live Nick Cave.

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Thu Jul 20 2023
5

Another Nick Cave classic. The guests are great, and I don't really particularly care for PJ Harvey but she's good here. I like the concept of the album (does having an overall theme count as a concept album?) It's just "fun". There are better Nick Cave albums but this is no slouch.

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Thu Aug 17 2023
5

Very creative. I had no idea O'Malley's Bar was so long because it is engrossing.

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Mon Aug 21 2023
5

Interesting concept, kinda like a vulgar version of The Doors. Which I'm sure that's gonna offend someone that I compared these two but its just the vibe I'm getting. Tons of ambient soundscape work in these tracks, I actually had to mute the song at one point to make sure I wasn't hearing background noise from another browser tab. Really enjoyed it.

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Tue Aug 22 2023
5

One of my favourite Bad Seeds albums.

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Sat Oct 07 2023
5

Love this album, So many great tracks! Standouts: Where The Wild Roses Grow, Henry Lee, Crow Janes, Stagger Lee, The Curse of Millhaven, The Kindness of Strangers, Death is Not The End Others: Song of Joy, O'Malley's Bar 4.5

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Tue Dec 12 2023
5

Nick decides he wants to make an album about murder and invites two of his ex girlfriends (Anita and PJ) and his current girlfriend (Kylie) to sing. You can’t make this stuff up. I remember the first time I heard The Kindness of Strangers and the the line about Mary Bellows: “They found her the next day cuffed to the bed, rag in her mouth and bullet in her head”. This is sung while there is haunting weeping / whimpering in the background (provided by one of his exes of course). Just when you think the level of depravity could not get more extreme, O’Malley’s Bar comes on. Jerry Bellows (perhaps Mary Bellow’s dad?) is taken care of in that song. This is done by using an “ashtray as big as a fucking really big brick” to split his skull in half. Wow. How could you not conclude that Nick was one weird motherfucker? The album ends with a Bob Dylan song that nobody ever heard of and I see that song as a helpful message to those in need which is an interesting way to finish. I’ve heard of Nick singing at a couple of funerals which is interesting. One was Shane MacGowan’s funeral last week. Shane sang one of the versus on Death is Not the End (each of Nick’s girlfriends also contributed a verse.) Do you not have to be fucked up to write these songs? Nick could of course throw it back at me by saying “Do you not have to be fucked up to enjoy listening to this?” Guilty as charged. I really like this album but try to make sure people don’t see me enjoying it. Sort of the same surreptitious behaviour I employ when reading something like Anaïs Nin’s Little Birds.

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Mon Jan 01 2024
5

Suddenly Nick Cave makes sense for me! A proper album, Old Testament-thumping American Gothic that peaks and troughs perfectly, with "Where the Wild Roses Grow" as its tenderly beating heart.

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Thu Jan 04 2024
5

I used to listen to this all the time! Love Nick Cave

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

dark af. but great 1. 4 2. 3 3. 5 4. 5 5. 5555555 I've loved this song since I've first heard it years and years ago 6. 5 7. 4.5 8. 5 9. 3.5 O'Malley's Bar - I see this one is a fan-favourite, but to me it was so... tiring? I see it's a masterpiece, but I found it too long and disliked some of the 'singing' 10. 5

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Wed Jan 17 2024
5

No le doy 5 porque alguna me ha cansado. Venga, 5!

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

I had listened to this before. Dark topics. Try to listen by reading the lyrics. Inspiration for d&d crime quest. I like it a lot. Need to ibtegrate it to my playlists

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Fri Jan 26 2024
5

Great album. Amazing storyteller. Nick Cave and Tom Waits are national treasures !

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Sun Jan 28 2024
5

Absolutely stunning album. Puts me back in my chair every time. Stagger Lee always leaves me catching flys.

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Fri Feb 02 2024
5

A great album. Interesting to see how since his personal tragedies, Nick Cave has become a modern-day sage through his Red Hand Files

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Mon Feb 05 2024
5

My personal favorite Nick Cave album. Love the stories and the catchy choruses. Stagger Lee is also fuckin awesome

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

No le doy 5 porque alguna me ha cansado. Venga, 5!

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

Me ha gustado bastante... ¿Tanto cómo para vinilo? ¡Sí!

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Sat Feb 17 2024
5

Easily the most pleasant kill streak of all time.

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Sat Feb 17 2024
5

The atmosphere on Murder Ballads is completely unique, and it's the main reason why I'm continuously drawn to the album. That and Blixa Bargeld singing "When the cities are on fire with the burning flesh of men, just remember that death is not the end".

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Sat Mar 09 2024
5

I like his other stuff, this one feels more raw

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

Big fan of this. It was a lot cheerier than The Boatman’s Call, probably because he was still knobbing PJ Harvey at this time. Always liked it when an album sticks to one clear narrative, on this case MURDER! Can see this influencing Hellfire by Black Midi. Songwriting is so good and Nicky C’s creepy little voice hooks you in. Don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say ‘Motherfucker’ in a better way.

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

One of the best albums we’ve had so far. Nick cave lyrically at his peak and probably his best album - no surprise given the involvement of PJ Harvey and Shane Macgowan. 5/5

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

This is Cave at his Lyrical peak in my opinion. Song of Joy, Stagger Lee, Crow Jane, O'Malleys bar. Storytelling at its absolute finest.

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