4AD Press Bio - 1983
NICK CAVE, MICK HARVEY, ROWLAND 'S' HOWARD, TRACY PEW - THE BIRTHDAY PARTY?
THE BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE STRIKE AGAIN (AND AGAIN)
In the guise of mild mannered "The Boys Next Door", they began in earnest (a Melbourne suburb) in 1977, building a rabid following of religious fervor as a result of their onstage explosive energy nay, genius. However, the constant stream of brick wall scenarios and ongoing cloth ear situations led them to depart for their land of hopeful glory, England, in 1980. A fire at Bombay airport during a stopover on the way prompted a name change: to the Birthday Party natch.
Living in England only served to intensify the bitterness of their warped vision. Initially their brilliance fell on deaf ears, despite their devastating disc releases, though support from Peel and 4AD buffered disappointments.
In late '80, a whirlwind tour of Australia, where they were now bigger than Zep, boosted both coffers and morale. While there, they recorded the seminal "Prayers On Fire", which broke both hearts and necks while exposing the band's deeper darker danker dementia.
On their return, The Birthday Party hit London like a suppository in the anus of apathy and proceeded to give the country an Alka Seltzer enema. Their audience swelled and live performances became ferocious rituals of frenzy and confrontation as the possessed Cave drove his six inch gold blade deeper. Ritual suicides are not uncommon in their audience.
Soon, inspired by the squalor of London's Maida Vale, Harvey and Cave penned the band's antithema anti-theme, 'Release the Bats', which seemed to break a dam which had hithero kept the demons of Cave' psyche at bay. His passion grew as wild as his haircut.
1981 also saw the release of the live mini LP 'Drunk on the Pope's Blood', which they shared with soul sister Lydia Lunch. The LP, released to combat bootleggers, teeters on the edge of hysteria, capturing the band as a sleek yet grotesque carnivore. It's fangs drip with the blood of a thousand traditions which have been rent and reconstructed slightly askew.
There followed a return to Australia for a revoltingly successful and adultaory tourette, where they spewed forth 'Junkyard', forty minutes of aural obscenity, gyration, vibration and revelation.
'Junkyard' stands as an indispensible hysterical cackle of ritual celebration; brimming with strength, definition, discord and even music, it is the product of warped pre-apocalypse minds.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the band were revolted by the manifestation of their success. At their concerts the blind could see, the crippled could walk, the sick got sicker. Pavlov's punks salivated. They sold drumboy Phill to the Psychedelic Furs, Mick donned sticks and the band fled to Berlin in search of new pastures further afield in which to plant their bad seed. And 'The Bad Seed' is the fruit of the Birthday Party's german-action.
Shuddering to a start with the awesome, tormented gallop of 'Sonny's Burning', we are slapped until sore by the streamlined, redefined, underlined Birthday Party. Harvey's inventive, economic drumming alternatively with and against the music as the noise pulses, throbs, grinds, and flexes.
Onward, the irreverend 'Wild World' lurches obscenely, flicks ash, occasionally lifting it's skirt and flashing on the carpet. The moody tension of 'Deep in the Woods' sees Cave donning the guise of savaged hillbilly, emerging soaked from three days lost in the swamp and happening on 'a funeral swinging' via a musical language that performs an autopsy on the blues and creates a monster of frankly Frankensteinian proportions.
But the record's climax is the red raw open wound 'Fear of Gun', the new torn torch classic which restates the Birthday Party's undeniable ability to combine passion, torture, and smouldering flesh. This hysterical love-sick sadist of a song hits again and again through a haze of tears and blood, pleading, commanding, 'fingers down the throat of love'. Here's where passion teeters into the realm of emotional, emotive terror.... the trauma of love and the love of trauma.
The Birthday Party continue to drip their blood from the meathooks. They walk the line, surprise, terrorize. Open wide.
- Sandy 'Barney' Lesberg