“The rhythm of her walk, it’s beautiful.
Just let it twist, let it break.
Let it buckle, let it bend.
I want the noise of my zoo music girl.”
When you see/hear a band for the first time, it always stays with you. It stays with you because you eventually fall in love with said band. Something or someone places that band in your life, and what happens after holds not much importance. Unless you want to get into it. You know the story about my love for Nick Cave. It started with me gawping at a poster of him in my uncle’s room. I used to go up there and just stare at it, along with one of Lou Reed. Both are huge loves of mine, both are why I care tremendously about lyrics and why I have a fascination with words.
The Birthday Party were one of the first bands I remember hearing that wonderfully terrified me. The way in which Nick would let out these screams, these crazy noises which seemed to tie in perfectly with Rowland’s manic guitar playing fascinated me. This noise blew my tiny mind at a young age, and maybe someone so young shouldn’t have been listening to them but I’m glad I was given the freedom to listen to whatever I wanted. Their first record was a demonic body of work that corrupted my mind and launched me to the less conventional side of being. Something I’m forever thankful for. Most regard love being defined in those sickly rom-com films. Hell no. It’s in a Nick Cave song.
I’ve chosen to write about Prayers On Fire because it’s the record that I first remember hearing, although I have a feeling I may have been turned on to Junkyard first. That’s for a different day because the artwork alone needs talking about. Always. Prayers On Fire is full of smutty, filthy and dangerous songs that make you want to slam someone into a wall, and do whatever you will. The tense yelps from Nick’s mouth send trembling and frequent shivers down your neck. Certain songs have this unkind and menacing feel to them. No song on this record is vulnerable or gentle. Each song leaves you saying “Oh fuck” at the end of it. It is rich in depravity and is easily one of the greatest records of all time. It needs to be played so loud that your neighbour thinks it is you that is being possessed bu something greater than you. Each song sounds like a drunken brawl spilling into the night. Each song has bouts of this glorious insanity that is found in the minds of geniuses.
The songs all read like sordid poetry that could easily be the script to a twisted horror film. The minds of The Birthday Party allow each member to explore something so dark, mysterious and unknown. For me it has ALWAYS been about Rowland S. Howard and his ability to shake up the listener with his machine gun sound. His way of playing guitar has evidently influenced so many bands I love, and the way he played just left you with your jaw on the ground. He managed to instill this fear into the listener with the noise he made, where Nick brought this curiosity with his yelps, screams and uneasy vocals. Phill’s drumming seemed to egg on each band member to go further and to really scare the listener. Mick Harvey was like the secret weapon and Tracy did some serious damage on the bass.
I’ve probably read the lyrics to the songs more than I have listened to them, and time and time again I always come back to Just You And Me. It’s such a warped and delirious, and it reads like such a twisted love poem. It’s like Ted Hughes mixed with Rimbaud with a hint of Poe. In short, it’s wonderfully perfect. In a way it reminds me of a really really extreme version of Lovesong by Ted Hughes. It’s a brutal dedication that most would shun because they favour something more conventional. Oh, how dull.
For me, The Birthday Party embodied everything I love about music. The fearlessness, the noise, the darkness within the songs, the poetry in the words, the way in which they take you somewhere really sinister and twisted- and you lust after it because it sounds SO good and you feel every single word. I’ve paid a lot of attention to this record of late, and I think it does have some incredible songs on it that just need to be heard. Always. I love Cry, King Ink, Dull Day. I could go on and on, but the record truly speaks for itself. You can’t dispute how great a record Prayers On Fire is. You just have to play it obnoxiously loud and join in with Nick’s passionate screams.
Let this whirling but assuring fear take over you as you listen to the record. Nobody is going to hold your hand on this one.