Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Unhappy Birthday

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that The Birthday Party disintegrated due to an explosive combination of egos, creative and personal differences, and exceedingly heavy drug use - and this Quietus article, featuring contributions from a whole host of characters in the unfolding drama, underlines just how messy it got.

I love Nick Launay's description of first meeting the band - "They walked in looking like they hadn't slept in days, all smartly dressed in black like they had just come from church but maybe the church was a ruin with rats, and they hadn't washed in weeks" - almost as much as I love Nick Cave's expression of absolute disgust at those who liked them: "I don't know of another group who are playing music that is attempting in some way to be innovative that draws a more moronic audience than The Birthday Party. This is not everybody of course, just people I see from stage, there's always ten rows of the most cretinous sector of the community."

An earlier Quietus article marking the 30th anniversary of the release of Junkyard makes for an excellent companion piece - particularly worth reading for the opening paragraphs describing what witnessing The Birthday Party live in 1982 was like.

It's fascinating that even in a band that supposedly embraced musical freedom and iconoclasm with archetypal post-punk glee, Cave should have started to feel so constrained that he needed to break free and begin afresh - albeit carrying Mick Harvey and others with him.

Allow me to use the above as an excuse to once again post a link to the band's extraordinary performance on German TV (complete with bassist Tracy Pew arguably upstaging even Cave), as well as to this footage of the band in their early incarnation as The Boys Next Door showing off their love of fellow Aussie punks The Saints with a cover of 'These Boots Were Made For Walking'.

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