In celebration of the screening of One More Time With Feeling, the Nick Cave documentary showing tonight at the Capitol Theater I had to dust this one off. This was not my first dance with Nick Cave. The album was put out in 1990, 2 years after the harder edged critically acclaimed Tender Prey record. This album was more sober in song writing and rightfully so Cave had spent some time in rehab after Tender Prey and also fell in love with Viviane Carneiro during that time. Tender Prey is just nonstop streams of heroin induced music. The Good Son is shaking off the demons. It is at times spiritual.
In 1990, I was into rave culture and music. Rocking out bands like the Stone Roses, Charlatans UK, Happy Mondays. It was all about living it up, dancing, going to the clubs. The Manchester vibe had just begun to come to our shores from the UK. We were dancing our asses off at the Lift, and Nine of Clubs. We were just there on the cusp of the whole grunge thing setting a fire across the country changing music as we knew it. Then there was Nick, stuck there somewhere in the middle of all that. You can’t dance to Cave. You can’t bang your head to him either. This album kind of got lost on everyone. Panned for not being Tender Prey II.
I remember watching 120 minutes when the record debuted and the video for The Ship Song came on. I was blown away. Dancing children, Cave dressed up in his suit at the piano with the Bad Seeds in the background. This is the exact moment I recognized Cave as a songwriter not the junkie screamer from his previous efforts. This album was the one that tried to shake the demons he created with his addictions. The songs are still gritty and rough, but in comparison to his previous albums, this thing (mixed by Flood) was clean and sounded amazing.
I have the original release from 1990 on Mute and it crackles and pops like a champion. It sadly has a small skip in the Cave mainstay “The Ship Song”. Two words can describe that song for me in 1990; Panty Peeler. This made multiple mixtapes in my attempts to woe “that girl” whoever that might have been at the time.
We talk about it all night long
We define our moral ground
But when I crawl into your arms
Everything, it comes tumbling down
Such amazing lyrics. Nick Cave, not the junkie anymore, not the screamer. It was Nick Cave the poet. Nick Cave the songwriter. Now granted those girls I tried to woo didn’t really get Nick Cave. I still don’t think many get Nick Cave. He remains just outside of the fringe as a cult figure. I am good with that though and I am pretty sure he has done well enough for himself financially for me not wishing arena sized success on him.
Anyhow, this is an amazing record. It is one of my all time favorites I can listen to every song on it and want more. Cave grew up on this record as one of the best songwriters in the world, and for that matter one of the best love song writers in modern music history. This record opened the door for albums like The Boatman’s Call, and the so called softer side of Cave that would grow over the next 20+ years.