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2023 Albums Thing #066 - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “The Good Son”

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I’m reasonably certain “The Good Son” was the first thing I heard by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. I’m also fairly certain it would have been on a tour bus, far from home, late at night or more likely in the wee small hours of the morning. Cos, as magnificent as this album is, it’s not one for playing on a bright sun-shiney day while you’re sipping cocktails with your pals. Like much of Nick Cave’s work there is a dark beauty smothering it all.

It’s a concise record, just 9 songs (plus 3 more if you’re lucky enough to own the bonus 7”, which I do) but there’s not a bad one among the 9. The titles say a lot about the content “Foi Na Cruz” (Portuguese for “(it was) On The Cross”), “Sorrow’s Child”, “The Weeping Song” and “Lament” give you an idea. That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom, “The Ship Song” is a genuinely uplifting melody, in fact luscious melodies are this albums trade.

“The Good Son” was written and recorded in Brazil where Cave was living and had gone through rehab. The subject matter is in the main concerned with that and his new romantic interest, a Brazilian journalist. It’s much more sedate an album than his previous two, “Your Funeral…My Trial” and “The Tender Prey”. The latter of those two is a more twitchy, almost paranoid partner to “The Good Son” (PS “The Tender Prey” opens with “The Mercy Seat” which was brilliantly covered by Johnny Cash. Both are worthy of your time and effort). You can feel the search for a calmer life in these songs, bought about (maybe ?) by the rehab.

A number of the songs are based on other (traditional) compositions, “Foi Na Cruz” on a Brazilian hymn, the title track on the African-American chain-gang song "Another Man Done Gone" mixed up with the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel, “The Witness Song” on American gospel song "Who Will be a Witness?" (also an influence on Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get A Witness”). The Bad Seeds are in brilliant form throughout and guitarist Blixa Bargeld’s duet with Cave on “The Weeping Song” is equal parts ominous and hilarious. “The Ship Song” is a rare thing indeed, a delicately performed ballad but strident in its melody and a complete admission of all encompassing adoration. The closing “Lucy” is as sad as it is joyful. 

“The Good Son” is the start of a run of albums by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds over the next 15 years that are breathtaking in their quality and sheer brilliance at times, I’d advise you to check out any of them if you find yourself liking this. Oh and for info, the reason there are 4 songs on here titled The “something” Song (Weeping, Ship, Hammer and Witness songs) is, they never got around to titling them properly so stuck with their working titles.

The Ship Song - https://youtu.be/T0spQCw35D4

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