Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – From Her To Eternity

From Her To Eternity (1984)


1. Avalanche 2. Cabin Fever! 3. Well Of Misery 4. From Her To Eternity 5. In The Ghetto 6. The Moon Is In The Gutter 7. Saint Huck 8. Wings Off Flies 9. A Box For Black Paul


Busy, busy, busy. For the past week, my life has consisted of a discomforting combination of moderately heavy drinking and schedule-busting stress. Fortunately, whenever life seems overwhelming, I can always turn to the wise, comforting words of Nick Cave for encouragement. And what does the venerable Mr. Cave have to say on the subject of time management? “The brothel shift/The hustle and the bustle and the greenbacks rustle/And all the sexy cash/And the randy cars/And the two dollar fucks/Ooo ya outta luck, ya outta luck!”

Yes, indeed. Of course we all know Nick Cave as a legendary self-help guru, but did you know he makes music, too? It’s true! It’s really scary, though. Tonally not at all what I expected from a guy who has published two bestselling self-help books! *Does Google search* OK, wait, I just found out that his self-help books are actually novels about an inbred retard and a depraved traveling salesman, respectively. I guess this album makes sense then. *Brain explodes*

At first I was gonna try to keep that stupid Nick Cave=self-help guru conceit going for the whole review, but I decided I just don’t have the energy or imagination to pull it off right now. However, don’t rule out the possibility that in an upcoming review I pretend to confuse Nick Cave with Nicholas Cage. Not in this one, though, because the mere idea of even the most dimwitted person alive getting the idea that the man responsible for National Treasure, aka the Second Worst Movie I Have Ever Seen, having had anything to with music this evil-sounding is too ludicrous to even comtemplate. When Nicholas Cage wants to act evil, he films a sequel to Ghost Rider. *Dies of pure cinematic awfulness*

OK, I’m going to get to the actual review, now. I swear. From Her To Eternity (it’s a pun, not a misspelling, so stay the hell away from me, grammar police), released less than a year after the official dissolution of the Birthday Party, finds Mssrs. Cave, et. al. wading through a spooky haze of foreboding piano notes and heroin addiction to create a debut album far less polished and fleshed out but just as atmospheric as the band’s later work. And this one’s really all in the atmosphere… the songs themselves are mostly exercises in uncompromising repetition, clanging along for five or six minutes on a single, simple bassline or piano groove. But man, do they ever pound those grooves into submission… the basis of the title track is literally one pulsating piano chord pounding away for five and a half minutes, but with its intermittent stabs of blaring jackhammer guitar and Nick wailing away about a destructively devotional affair, it’s quite the barnburner. Similarly, the insanity-at-sea tale “Cabin Fever!” is a six-minute tour de force of a horror-movie style bassline, indecipherable frenzied grunting and shrieking and appropriately ugly scraping guitar noises.

However, the rest of Eternity, for the most part, is not quite so energetic, sounding instead like the Birthday Party slipping into a state of drug comatose, and the results are varied. With its bracing hammer-on-rock percussion and call and response vocals, “Well Of Misery” makes for a mighty fine chain gang song, but the brooding, pared-down piano closer “A Box For Black Paul” meanders on a bit too long (nearly ten minutes) without doing anything particularly interesting. And for my next “this song is good, and this other song is not” sentence, Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche,” slowed to an agonizing crawl, makes for an effective album-opening statement of purpose (we’re about to brood your ass off for the next 50 minutes, and sound like a bunch of unreformed murderers doing it!), while “Wings Off Flies” sounds like the result of a bunch of Australian mental patients being given instruments and being told to write a song.

If you came by Nick Cave through his later work like I did, you’ll only find one track here on which he at all resembles the more familiar “Nick Cave, crooner guy”: the more or less faithfully rendered cover of “In The Ghetto.” I like it, and it’s about ten times cleaner and more normal sounding than the rest of the album… probably because it was originally a non-album single and then got dropped into the middle of the tracklisting once it came out on CD later on in the 80s. Thus, it kind of breaks the album’s oppressive flow a little bit… then again, maybe a bit of a respite from all the repetition and evil isn’t such a bad thing.

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