Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were first formed in 1983 in Australia by Cave, Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld. Over the course of their career they have featured many different members from all over the world of various nationalities. They are considered to be one of the most influential and greatest bands of the gothic and post punk genres. They formed after the disbanding of Cave and Harvey’s previous band The Birthday Party. Over the course of their career, they have evolved from post-punk into more atmospheric gothic rock. They are a group who have received much acclaim throughout their four-decade career and have always made a for challenging and innovative listening experience. This list looks at their diverse career and picks the best ten cuts from their seventeen albums.
# 10 – Jubilee Street
First on this list is a track that was the lead single from 2013’s Push the Sky Away. This is a track that proves that the Seeds can still make some of their best music, which at this point was thirty years after their formation. Even though this record was not quite as gothic as what the band were known for, it was still a sublime and diverse sounding record which was no less of a fascinating journey into Cave’s warped and brilliant mind than any other entries in their back catalog.
# 9 – Red Right Hand
Here is a track from 1994’s Let Love In. The version found on the album is longer than the condensed single version. It is one of Cave’s signature songs that is one of the main staples of the band’s live performances. It is a song that has become well known for both its numerous appearances in popular culture such as movies and TV shows as well as its various cover versions from other artists. The British television series Peaky Blinders has featured several of these covers of it on its soundtracks from artists such as PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop and Snoop Dog.
# 8 – The Weeping Song
This song is from the band’s 1990 album The Good Son. Cave is known for his numerous duets with a variety of other artists over the years which include PJ Harvey, Johnny Cash and even most famously Kyle Minogue. However, none of those collaborations with more well-known artists have been as great as this one with none other than former Bad Seeds member Blexa Bargeld (who was still a member at the time) This is a track that sees Cave at his tragic best, as this album came out shortly after his rather torturous battle with heroin addiction.
# 7 – Nobody’s Baby Now
Here is another track from Let Love In where Cave delves into romantic heartbreak with this ballad that sees him pining for a former lover. Cave actually suffered from writer’s block during the process of making the album and this track is a true testament to his ability to search within the very depths of his soul and come out with something truly spectacular. With this in mind, you get the impression that the coming together of this track must have been a hard thing for Cave emotionally.
# 6 – Loverman
And here is yet another track from Let Love In that was released as the record’s second single. Unbelievably, it was covered by Metallica on their 1998 covers album Garage Inc. It was reportedly a song that the band almost did not include on the album due to the band initially viewing it as sub-par material. However, after modifying it a little they changed their mind and the result came in the form of this track where Cave sounds wonderfully demented and the song as a whole has a rather sinister feeling.
# 5 – The Ship Song
This track was the lead single from 1990’s The Good Son. Upon its release, it reached number eighty-four in the UK Singles chart. It was an album that took a u-turn musically from the previous album Tender Prey which was a lot more rock-orientated. This album saw the band go in a more lighter direction, which this ballad is very much an example of. Like a lot of the rest of the album it was inspired by Cave’s affection for his then-lover Viviane Carneiro.
# 4 – We Call Upon the Author
This is track taken from 2008’s Dig Lazarus Dig. Cave has always made it clear in interviews that he has a disciplined writing process to the point that he treats studio time like an office job, wearing a suit when he goes in it and punching in a timeclock from nine to five. This track is a meta commentary on how Cave himself is writing it. The sound of the album was the most “rock” that the Bad Seeds had sounded for years.
# 3 – The Mercy Seat
With the next entry in this list we go back to Tender Prey with this track that is another that has been the subject of many covers, artists of which include Johnny Cash. The song is about a man who is about to receive the death penalty via the electric chair. Musically, this is more rooted in the eighties goth/post punk style and has a generally dirgey sound to it. It charted at number three in the UK indie chart.
# 2 – Stagger Lee
This track is a take on the traditional song of the same name that was released on 1996’s Murder Ballads. The song is about the real-life murder of Billy Lyons by Stag Lee Shelton in 1895. It is not exactly a cover version as such as much as an alternative version. The lyrics are a lot more dark and violent. They are also fictionalized while depicting Stagger Lee as still being alive in 1932 when in reality he died in 1912.
# 1 – Tupelo
At number one on this Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Songs list is a track from the band’s second album The Firstborn is Dead which was the only track from it to be released as a single. The song depicts the birth of Elvis Presley during a storm in Tupelo, Mississippi and is loosely based of the John Lee Hooker track of the same name which also depicts a similar situation in the same place. Upon its release, the song reached number one on the UK indie chart.