The Goods


98 Alan Sillitoe, Ali Smith


a 102 Gorillaz, Stereophonics


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104 Covent Garden Soups


105 0 Brother, Where Art Thou?

100 Adam And Joe, Party Of Five



No More Shall We Part (Mute) COCO.

One day Nick Cave will make a bad record. Surely? Probability and fallibility will win out, critics will crow and a few green-eyed contemporaries will throw away that voodoo doll. I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like him at all.

Many devotees claim that all his artistic conceptions since 1988’s Tender Prey LP have been immaculate. Personally this critic found The Murder Ballads just too kitsch and ketchupy to get beyond two listens, though you had to admire the self-parody. Putting the ham into Hammer horror and calling upon Kylie in the process. But so much for the confessions of a churl. C’mon, the man has made more fine records than the latest Q/Brit/Mercury winners can dream of - however much cocaine and celebrity they partake of.

This, the eleventh LP since the mutation of The Birthday Party into the Bad Seeds in the early 805, is rather less sanguinary and more spiritual. Romantic and eerie (‘And No More Shall We Part’, ‘Sweetheart Come’) and mournful and ineffably beautiful (‘Hallelujah’, ‘Love Letter’), it’s a natural successor to the confessional balladry of The Boafman’s Call (1997).

Other superlative tracks from an album that will take some displacing from the CD in-tray are ‘Love Letter’ (first heard at Cave’s 1999 Flux Festival appearance in Edinburgh), a love song about love songs, and the epic and irresistible ‘God Is In The House’. The latter tells a fabulous tale of white kittens, ‘teetotalitarianists’ and small-town small mindedness.

So we’ve got religion, marriage, some kittens and a lot of flowers here . . . has the Dark Prince turned all mild on us? Hell, no. Forget

Marilyn Manson and all those other shtick kickers. No More Shall We Part has plenty of the dark stuff too. ‘Oh My Lord’ is all crescendo and creeping shadows, a nightmare of Sweeney Todd proportions, complete with sinister hairdresser and a crowd pelting the security with marshmallows. Of course. ‘Pray hard but pray with care,’ counsels the Singer with wisdom presumably derived from 3am paranoia.

Sings Cave: ‘Someone cries: “What are you looking for?” I scream “The plot, the plot!”’ Hey, Frank Sinatra crooning Edgar Allan Poe! And while we’re namedropping the greats, let’s celebrate Cave as we should: an artist of vision and couldn’t-give-a- fuck style who would be more than worthy in the company of Sinatra, Cohen, Waits and Presley.

This is, after all, a man who chooses ‘And I Sat Sadly By Her Side’ as the single to trail this LP. Can you imagine the record company’s take on this? It’s up- tempo, argues Cave. Well, yes, kinda. It is also, he says, a song about his wife chiding him ‘for being a miserable old bastard’. That’ll slay them on Radio 1 and MTV then - institutions well known for their love of high kickin’ and sing-a-long soliloquies on the transience of being.

There’s more though. ‘The Sorrowful Wife’ is a song in two parts but run through with disappointment and despair. Its climax is every bit as incendiary as that of ‘The Mercy Seat’, a Cave classic and one, incidentally, recently covered by Johnny Cash. But let’s return to ‘Hallelujah’: epic, snarling, comic, feverish, holy, a more hymn to the pursuit of . . . well 5M“ something intangible anyway. we Happiness? God? Love? Whatever. part It’s a song you’d die to have played at your funeral. (Rodger Evans)


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