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The Birthday Party

Live 81-82

    Though various live releases had emerged over the course of the band’s existence, no full-length capturing of the Party’s particular bacchanalia approved by the group had officially emerged until this release.

    “Stitching together tracks from a London date in 1981 and a German show in 1982 (plus a ringer cut from Athens, Greece - a version of The Stooges’ ‘Funhouse’ with Jim Thirwell aka Foetus on sax), ‘Live 81-82’ threatens at all points to leap from the speakers and throttle innocent bystanders. Clear sound on the first ten songs, all from the London date, makes resistance even harder. Given the sometimes (though intentionally) unclear or unexpected mixing of Party songs in studio, hearing everything via in-your-face stun methods brings out the abilities of the band all the more, especially Pew and his vicious bass work.

    “Songs like ‘The Dim Locator’ and ‘King Ink’ cut all the more closer to the bone as a result. ‘Nick The Stripper’, amazingly, is even more viciously sleazy than the original, which is saying something and a half; Cave sounds like he’s summoning his voice from his shoes on up. The German date’s sound is only slightly less thorough than the London’s, and the performances no less wired. ‘Big-Jesus-Trash-Can’ thrashes around like there’s no tomorrow, Pew’s bass again shooting through the mix, while ‘The Friend Catcher’ seethes with a creepy, frigid energy. Harvey takes over on drums for the last two German tracks and the ‘Funhouse’ cover, but even down to four people the band still generates more noise and activity than most other acts could hope to achieve.

    “Definite bonus points have to go to Cave for his occasional, softly spoken between-song asides - “Thank you, I love your haircuts as well.” - Ned Raggett, All Music Guide

    The Birthday Party

    Junkyard - Special Vinyl Edition

      4AD reissue ‘Junkyard’ in a special vinyl edition. Apart from the LP, the package also contains a bonus 7” featuring ‘Release The Bats’ and ‘Blast Off’. Additionally, it includes a CD of all 12 tracks, so that fans can also access the music digitally.

      The album has been mastered from Henry Rollins’ 2000 re-master, previously unavailable in Europe, while the single is a new, 2012 master taken from the original studio analogue tapes.

      “Released in May 1982, ‘Junkyard’s uncompromising contents signalled both the oncoming demise of the band responsible for them and rock & roll’s logical conclusion. Harnessing the power of The Stooges’ ‘Funhouse’ with the limitless possibilities offered by Captain Beefheart’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’, The Birthday Party were a product of the uncertain times that created them - the unwitting soundtrack to a time of death, darkness and decay.”

      “Troubled music for a troubled age, Nick Cave’s world was created in a white-hot blast of visceral energy, gut-wrenching violence and Dadaist stupidity while the work of his band mates fleshed out the vision to devastating effect. Here, blasphemous imagery fraternised with scenes of murder, brutality and sadism as it rolled and revelled in a trash aesthetic that belied the intellect behind it. The noise created by the band was at once familiar - a wild mutation of rock’s primordial slime mixed with a nightmarish interpretation of Elmer Bernstein and a skewed vision of the blues spewed out rather than played - yet startlingly new and all underlined by an inevitable finality.”

      “With the passing of 30 years, ‘Junkyard’ still sounds as if it’s waiting for rock music to catch up with it. Throwing down a taunting gauntlet to subsequent generations of musicians, this feral collection of songs simultaneously closes a door on something that can’t be repeated or improved upon. The distance of time has failed to reduce its sonic power and revisiting Junkyard three decades after its birth is to rediscover an album more melodic if no less manic as was initially perceived.” - Julian Marszalek, The Quietus

      The Birthday Party


        A reckless whirl of mutant rockabilly, black-eyed swamp-blues, outlaw imagery and stomach-churning violence, The Birthday Party were one of the definitive post-punk groups, creative and destructive in equal measure. Originally called The Boys Next Door, the band formed at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia in the early '70s. The initial line-up was singer/lyricist Nick Cave, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey, bassist/provocateur Tracy Pew and drummer Phill Calvert. They started out performing covers, but were soon galvanised into writing their own material by the nascent Aussie punk movement (notably The Saints and Radio Birdman). The Boys Next Door's development was accelerated by the addition of visionary guitarist Rowland S Howard in 1978. The following year saw the release of an album, Door Door, on local label Mushroom, but its creators felt the record failed to capture the power of their live show. The group had also grown tired of Melbourne, where they were banned from most venues and routinely hassled by the police.

        By the start of the new decade The Boys Next Door had changed their name to The Birthday Party and moved to London. Living in poverty and squalor, they had to borrow equipment and only played ten UK shows in 1980. The second of these, at the Moonlight Club in West Hampstead, was attended by 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell. Despite a shambolic set, Ivo saw them again the following month, and by the end of the summer The Birthday Party were signed to 4AD. Their first release for the label was The Friend Catcher 12", comprising three songs recorded back in Melbourne as The Boys Next Door.

        They went on to release a couple of albums for 4AD, along with a couple of  EPs before disbanding, with Nick going on to form The Bad Seeds with Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld. This album collects together some of the finest moments from these releases.

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