Nick Cave - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (+DVD)

Release Date: 02 March 2015
Artist: Nick Cave
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When Blixa Bargeld left Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, who would have predicted his departure would result in one of the finest offerings in the band's catalog? Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus is a double CD or, rather, two completely different albums packaged in one very handsome box with a stylish lyric booklet and subtly colored pastel sleeves. They were recorded in a total of 16 days by producer Nick Launay (Kate Bush, Midnight Oil, Girls Against Boys, Silverchair, INXS, Virgin Prunes, et al.). Abbatoir Blues, the first disc in the set (packaged in pink, of course), is a rock & roll record. Yeah, the same guy who released the Boatman's Call, No More Shall We Part, and Nocturama albums has turned in a pathos-drenched, volume-cranked rocker, full of crunch, punishment -- and taste. Drummer Jim Sclavunos' aggressive, propulsive kit work is the bedrock of this set. It and Mick Harvey's storm-squall guitar playing shake things loose on "Get Ready for Love," which opens the album. As Cave goes right for God in the refrain -- "get ready for love" -- in the maelstrom, a gospel choir roaring "praise Him" responds. His tense, ambivalent obsession with theology is pervasive; he mocks the Western perception of God in the heavens yet seeks the mystery of His nature. That he does so while careening through a wall of noisy rock damage is simply stunning. It leaves the listener revved up and off-center for what comes next. The chorus -- members of the London Community Gospel Choir -- is prevalent on both records; the Bad Seeds' arrangement utilizes them wisely as counterpoint and mirror for Cave's own baritone. "Cannibal's Hymn" begins as a love song musically; it's chocked with Cave's dark wit and irony and ends far more aggressively while retaining its melody. The single, "Nature Boy," finds itself on Scalvunos' big beat. Cave and his piano use love's irony in contrast with cheap innuendo as underlined by the choir in their best soul croon. "Let Them Bells Ring" is a most dignified and emotionally honest tribute to Johnny Cash and the world he witnessed. The Western wrangle of "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" references Morricone's desert cowboy groove against a swirling cacophony of drums, bashing piano, and the chorus swelling on the refrain, while Cave name drops Johnny Thunders and poet Philip Larkin. The pace is fantastic; its drama and musical dynamics are pitched taut, with lulls in all the right places.
The Lyre of Orpheus, by contrast, is a much quieter, more elegant affair. It is more consciously restrained, its attention to craft and theatrical flair more prevalent. But that doesn't make it any less satisfying. It is a bit of a shock after Abbatoir Blues, but it isn't meant for playing immediately afterward; it is a separate listening experience. The title track tells the myth's tale in Cave's ironical fashion, where God eventually throws a hammer at the subject and Eurydyce threatens to shove his lyre up his nether orifice. Warren Ellis' swampy bouzouki and Thomas Wydler's more stylized drumming move the band in the tense, skeletal swirl where chorus and Cave meet the music in a loopy dance. But in "Breathless," the bard of the love song emerges unfettered at the top of his poetic gift. On "Babe You Turn Me On," he wraps a bawdy yet tender love song in a country music waltz to great effect. But on this album, along with the gentleness, is experimentation with textures and wider dimensions. The sparser sound is freer, less structured; it lets time slip through the songs rather than govern them -- check the wall of Ellis' strings married to a loping acoustic guitar on the moving "Carry Me" as an example. Cave's nastiness and wit never remains absent for long, however, and on "O Children," the album's closer, it returns with this skin-crawlingly gorgeous ballad of murder and suicide. This set is an aesthetic watermark for Cave, a true high point in a long career that is ever looking forward. ~ Thom Jurek
Release Date: 02 March 2015
Artist: Nick Cave

1. Get Ready for Love
2. Cannibal's Hymn
3. Hiding All Away
4. Messiah Ward
5. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
6. Nature Boy
7. Abattoir Blues
8. Let the Bells Ring
9. Fable of the Brown Ape
10. The Lyre of Orpheus
11. Breathless
12. Babe, You Turn Me On
13. Easy Money
14. Supernaturally
15. Spell
16. Carry Me
17. O Children
18. Component 3
19. Get Ready For Love
20. Cannibal's Hymn
21. Hiding All Away
22. Messiah Ward
23. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
24. Nature Boy
25. Abattoir Blues
26. Let the Bells Ring
27. Fable of the Brown Ape
28. The Lyre of Orpheus
29. Breathless
30. Babe, You Turn Me On
31. Easy Money
32. Supernaturally
33. Spell
34. Carry Me
35. O Children
36. She's Leaving You
37. Under This Moon
38. Hiding All Away (Live At Maida Vale)
39. There She Goes, My Beautiful World (Live at Maida Vale)
40. Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 13: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus)
41. Nature Boy
42. Breathless
43. Get Ready For Love (Live)
44. Get Ready For Love
45. Cannibal's Hymn
46. Hiding All Away
47. Messiah Ward
48. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
49. Nature Boy
50. Abattoir Blues
51. Let the Bells Ring
52. Fable of the Brown Ape
53. The Lyre of Orpheus
54. Breathless
55. Babe, You Turn Me On
56. Easy Money
57. Supernaturally
58. Spell
59. Carry Me
60. O Children
61. She's Leaving You
62. Under This Moon
63. Hiding All Away (Live at Maida Vale)
64. There She Goes, My Beautiful World (Live at Maida Vale)
65. Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 13: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus)
66. Nature Boy
67. Breathless
68. Get Ready For Love (Live)
69. The Lyre of Orpheus
70. Breathless
71. Babe, You Turn Me On
72. Easy Money
73. Supernaturally
74. Spell
75. Carry Me
76. O Children
77. Get Ready for Love
78. Cannibal's Hymn
79. Hiding All Away
80. Messiah Ward
81. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
82. Nature Boy
83. Abattoir Blues
84. Let the Bells Ring
85. Fable of the Brown Ape
86. The Lyre of Orpheus
87. Breathless
88. Babe, You Turn Me On
89. Easy Money
90. Supernaturally
91. Spell
92. Carry Me
93. O Children
94. She's Leaving You
95. Under This Moon
96. Hiding All Away (Live at Maida Vale)
97. There She Goes, My Beautiful World (Live at Maida Vale)
98. Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 13: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus)
99. Nature Boy
100. Breathless
101. Get Ready for Love (Live)
102. Get Ready for Love
103. Cannibal's Hymn
104. Hiding All Away
105. Messiah Ward
106. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
107. Nature Boy
108. Abattoir Blues
109. Let the Bells Ring
110. Fable of the Brown Ape
111. The Lyre of Orpheus
112. Breathless
113. Babe, You Turn Me On
114. Easy Money
115. Supernaturally
116. Spell
117. Carry Me
118. O Children
119. She's Leaving You
120. Under This Moon
121. Hiding All Away (Live at Maida Vale)
122. There She Goes, My Beautiful World (Live at Maida Vale)
123. Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 13: Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus)
124. Nature Boy
125. Breathless
126. Get Ready For Love (Live)

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Catalogue No: CDSEEDS13