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Murder Ballads Explicit Lyrics

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 20 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Explicit Lyrics
  • Label: Reprise
  • ASIN: B000002N5S
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #58,288 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Song Of Joy
2. Stagger Lee
3. Henry Lee
4. Lovely Creature
5. Where The Wild Roses Grow
6. The Curse Of Millhaven
7. The Kindness Of Strangers
8. Crow Jane
9. O'Malley's Bar
10. Death Is Not The End

Product Description

Product Description

Limited Edition Version with a Full Color Lyric Booklet, and a Gatefold Deluxe Digi-pack.

Nick Cave's been writing songs about killing and other evil things since he first surfaced in 1980 as the Birthday Party's pale, skinny, goth-punk Jim Morrison. But the murder ballads that provide this set's title are different, tantalizingly deliberate. Sure, there's plenty of trademark Cave here, but Murder Ballads is a fascinating concept album that uses the narrative ballad form of the English folk tradition to tell of murder: random deaths, passion crimes, and killing sprees, all in one package. Cave clearly thrives in this genre, and he produces some of his sharpest and most facile writing to date. "Song of Joy," a genuinely scary campfire mystery of a murdered family and an unnamed killer, chillingly weaves clues into the lyrics, while "Where the Wild Roses Grow" is a narrative duet in which killer (Cave) and victim (pop star Kylie Minogue) reveal parallel tales. Cave even shows his knack for adaptation on Bob Dylan's "Death Is Not the End": he recontextualizes a song of heavenly comfort into a sort of zombie "We Are the World" (featuring Minogue, PJ Harvey, Shane MacGowan, and others) in which "death is not the end" of pain and suffering. Above all, Murder Ballads should be heard as a work of pulp fiction--as sensationally funny as it is harrowing. The already violent traditional song "Stagger Lee" becomes gangsta folk, so ridiculously packed with obscenity and brutality it would make the Geto Boys cringe. And Cave's (unintentional?) point to would-be censors--that bad-ass songs existed long before rappers polluted the airways--should not be missed. --Roni Sarig

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Format: Audio CD
After repeated listenings, this remains one of my favorite albums of the past decade. It is strange, bizarre, dark, and sometimes utterly perverse, but somehow or other Cave has produced an album of great beauty and power. The premise is as the title would lead one to imagine: Cave collects nine songs somehow associated with murder. But the sheer variety of songs about murder is quite amazing. You find the comic as in "The Curse of Millhaven," the darkly nightmarish as in ironically titled "Song of Joy" (ironic because it tells the story of a man who has had his family killed by a serial killer) and the quietly tragic as in the beautiful "Where the Wild Roses Grow." Cave does his own version of the most famous murder ballad ever written, "Stagger Lee," his version incorporating only the nastiest and more prurient elements traditionally associated with the song. Finally, in the epic "O'Malley's Bar," Cave serves up a strange tale in which a man who is either insane or utterly amoral slaughters all the people in a bar, while he stops to admire himself in the bar's mirrors.
There really isn't a weak number on the album, but if there is a touch that truly marks this out as a special album, it is the ironic song that closes the album, a rather obscure Bob Dylan song entitled "Death is not the End."
In retrospect, this album, which summed up all the reflections on death and violence that could be found on Cave's previous albums, took the theme to a level where he had nowhere else to go. In a way, this may have prepared Cave's transition to a more religious perspective. I am reminded of the words someone spoke to J.-K Huysmans after he published AGAINST NATURE: the view of life express in it was so bleak that, his friend said, afterwards the only two options were the church or the noose.
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Format: Audio CD
In the early 90s, Nick Cave began to show a lighter, more sensitive side. Albums like Let Love In revealed a Cave who believed in faith, hope, and love (and the greatest of these love), and people wondered if the prophet-of-doom would ever return. Then he hit us hard with Murder Ballads, complete with brooding cover art and a Parental Advisory warning label. The grim Cave reaper was back!
So we thought. At closer inspection, Murder Ballads actually stays on a very parodic path, with even the sickest, most gruesome ballads retaining a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Take, for instance, "Stagger Lee," a song too vulgar and twisted to even begin describing in an review, yet I doubt anyone could make it through the song without displaying a wildly goofy grin. "Lee" is a hit (or, more accurately, a PUNCH) that was both a daring and magnificent move for Cave, worth the price of the album alone.
The rest of Murder Ballads holds other surprises as well. Cave's use of female vocalists in several numbers (both in foreground and background) is inspired, especially in "Where the Wild Roses Grow," one of the best and more serious songs on the disc. The dark tale is told with enough haunting recollection to make goose bumps sprout in places you've never imagined.
With all the violent outbursts put forth into Murder Ballads, it was appropriate to end with Dylan's "Death Is Not the End." Here we are given a showcase of all the vocalists in the record, each declaring in their unique style, "Just remember, death is not the end." A word of comfort, perhaps? Hard to say; since Murder Ballads is such a blackly humorous, twisted album to begin with, this last number is almost too cheerful and hopeful, providing quite the opposite effect.
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Format: Audio CD
Similar to almost any other Australian music-lover, I'd heard "Where The Wild Roses Grow" countless times before I decided to buy this album. Indeed, my actual purchase may have been as a sort of "NOW, will you stop playing this song?" reaction. Regardless, this CD is simultaneously the most terrifying one I have ever listened to from start to finish and also the most amazing idea I have ever seen committed to CD.
The title says it all, Cave and his Bad Seeds have taken the age-old murder ballad and had their wicked way with it and would now like you to hear the fruits of their labour. Not all of these songs are old murder ballads, and those which are tend to be present with slight alterations or in lesser-known forms, but they all would not sound out of place at any time in history. The reason being that they deal with topics such as cold-blooded murder, obsessive passion and crazed hatred which are not alien to any culture.
The opener, "Song Of Joy", is full of typical Cave irony. The title refers to the wife of the singer - killed in a particularly brutal fashion, as the song reveals. Of course, the idea of naming such an unrepentantly nasty song "Song Of Joy" is only what we have come to expect from this tortured genius. Cave's wit surfaces with such moments as the description of the wife becoming sad and "Joy in name only". As the song goes on, Cave weaves in a reference to Milton's "Paradise Lost" (interestingly enough, the same section which gave him the title of an earlier song) and gives some very tantalising clues to the killer's identity. A word of warning, listening to this song at night as not overly recommended, the atmospheric nature of gloom is more than all-pervading.
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