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    Birthday Party

    Hits 10 ( 1992 )
    The Friend Catcher / Happy Birthday / Mr Clarinet / Nick The Stripper / Zoo Music Girl / King Ink / Release The Bats / Blast Off / She's Hit / 6 Gold Blade / Hamlet Pow Pow Pow / Dead Joe / Junkyard / Big Jesus Trash Can / Wild World / Sonny's Burning / Deep In The Woods / Swampland / Jennifers Veil / Mutiny In Heaven

    I always thought to myself, i'd never write this review, because, well, my life was getting better. Slowly, but surely. Not fast enough, but progress is progress. The Birthday Party decamped from Australia to live in squalor in London - and tore the place apart. Nothing had been heard before so visceral. Nothing at all. This is music tied in with very primitive, primal urges. You ever tasted blood? This music wants you to taste blood. I've tasted blood. My own, actually - on purpose, out of rage. Years ago, years ago, but occasionally the desire returns, if i've had a particularly bad day. The Birthday Party? They released three albums proper and an EP, the greatest of which are collected here, the only Birthday Party anybody ever needs. Ever feel such violent rage that you genuinely want to kill somebody? Of course, you're a nice guy and wouldn't hurt a fly - so you never do. But, for a moment, you taste blood. The Birthday Party provide the ideal soundtrack to every anger you've ever felt and not acted upon. During these days, Nick Cave, vocalist, would walk around with a t-shirt that proclaimed "the only good cop is a dead cop". The groups bass player, the almighty Tracy Pew, had a sound unsurpassed to this day. A muscular bass sound that goes straight through you, straight to hell. Very physical, very sexual, very threatening and dirty and no other bass player has ever come close to his sound. Roland S Howard picked at scabs via his scratchy guitar. Sprawling, aggressive - the drums were primal, jungle. Nick Cave spat and spewed. Often imitated, never bettered - The Birthday Party.

    What happens when you cut yourself? Cut deep, scratch into youself, cut hard. Burn your own skin? Out of sheer hatred for yourself and the world around you? Well, mostly the world around you - but it all ends up turned inward. You see visions, things that aren't really there. You see hatred and crime and violence all around you. Like Jesus on the cross, you take on everybody else's sins and throw them all back at yourself. You hurt yourself. The blood pours out, you hide your arms for weeks afterwards, ashamed. You try to hide your face and very being, but you need to work and you need money. You listen to 'Deep In The Woods' and 'Jennifers Veil' from the 'Mutiny EP', collected here very nearly in full. The Birthday Party went as far as they could go without killing an entire audience. 'Deep In The Woods' starts quietly, then explodes with such hatred and anger and a sound and sonic assault words cannot explain. Nick Cave, Roland S Howard and Tracy Pew create this sound. Guitars cut into your skin. The bass guitar is the evil of the world, expressed. The vocals... "I could not stand to touch her now".... they continue. This was the second CD I ever bought. It changed my entire life.

    'Jennifers Veil' is doom encapsulated. "Quit waving that thing around... give me a chance to explain" and the vocals are sung and stretched and full of FEELING. Somebody at the end of their tether, spitting and bawling and angry. Oh, of course, 'Release The Bats' is cliche, quite funny - but doom goth cliche all the same. Still fucking brilliant though. Those drums, booming and pounding and sounding out your most hidden urges. BITE!! 'Big Jesus Trash Can', that Jesus fellow again. All dynamics and switching to such all out BILE. This is anger. A song called 'Dead Joe' that's an assault from beginning to end. The emphasis is on the phrase, 'Dead Joe'. Joe is dead? It seems like an inevitability, and something to be pleased with. Joe is dead? That's a good thing?! Well, the music and performance SO convinces. I'll leave off the capitals. 'She's Hit' is so sad sounding, like your entire life is ending. It's a song made by Tracy Pew, no longer with us.

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    Readers Comments

    Big eyed bean eric.hello@wanadoo.fr
    Raw, simple ... Birthday party was a pure moment of radical straight rnr. No recoil but a (very) strong urge to express yourself. Release the primal will that makes you being yourself : relase YOUR bat. 1000 thousand times better than any romantic song by the great pop singer nick cave.

    Mike thepublicimage79@hotmail.com
    "the only Birthday Party anybody ever needs"? Sorry, gotta disagree with you on that, Adrian. All of the albums are essential listening. There aren't many bands I can say that about. Hell, I didn't move forward with these guys after Hits for a looonnnggg time, precisely because of that view. Then I got Prayers On Fire and realized that it had my favorite song of the Birthday Party EVER - "Capers" - and that wasn't on Hits. So it would be cool if you reviewed the rest of these brilliant albums. But Hits...yeah, it's a no-holds-barred 10, no matter what that shitball Christgau says about this band being "cornier than PiL" (I hate that prissy nerd cockbag with a passion when he disses my favorite groups). God, they were all astounding; the rhythm section of this band was probably the best in postpunk (and that's even counting PiL!) - Tracy Pew and Phill Calvert worked up some of the filthiest grooves ever recorded. Because this music actually can groove and es! pecially swing - in a spastic, completely fucked over way. What a band.

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    this page last updated 15/04/07

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