Judge David Gutierrez always dreamed of being a Bad Seed but has long since decided to keep his singing confined to the comfort of his shower.
It's like getting that "no" after asking her to the prom.
Imagine a jaundiced, emaciated Rick Springfield if he didn't get Jessie's girl, with a voice reminiscent of the sinister loving of Leonard Cohen, and you have something approximating the gaunt demeanor of Nick Cave. The Australian singer, formerly of the Birthday Party and front man for the Bad Seeds, brings us this collection of videos from 1984 to 1997.
Boy, can the man sing. I wouldn't recommend this to the weak of heart, teenagers subject to depression, or anyone recently dumped or cheated on, but I would recommend this to anyone who craves music that swirls and grabs you from the inside of the throat. The Bad Seeds help Cave keep it together throughout. In fact, this band gels amazingly well. It could be the production values, but they sound incredible. The thing about bands like this and Velvet Underground is that you think you have a chance of joining up. Like watching a bowling tournament, you think "I can do that." Only the harsh truth of it is, you can't. Therein lies the true strength of Cave's singing—it looks easy, but it's not anything anyone can pull off except in the car or in the shower.
Despite the large disparity of time between videos, there isn't much that dates them. The majority are well conceived and executed. All but one features a short introduction by Cave himself, as he does his best to explain why the songs and videos are what they are.
The videos featured are:
"Stagger Lee"—Glossy green footage of the band performing the song, a format that will grow familiar as the DVD continues.
"Where The Wild Roses Grow"—Featuring Kylie Minogue. A disturbing look at what happens when a boy kills a girl with a rock.
"Into My Arms"—Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' version of Madonna's "Vogue" video.
"Are You The One That I've Been Waiting For?"—Like "Stagger Lee," only red.
"Henry Lee"—Featuring PJ Harvey. Like "Stagger Lee" if shot on a Fisher-Price Pixel vision camera.
"Red Right Hand"—When I saw this, I thought this is what would have happened if Ridley Scott directed Un Chien Andalou.
"Loverman"—Very effective, mixing fire, black and white, and color.
"Do You Love Me?"—Features footage of Brazil and its red light district, intercut with footage of the band performing.
"Deanna"—Stale and boring but Cave still manages to look cool. Directed by Bad Seed Nick Harvey.
"The Ship Song"—Lavender. Sometimes, I thought I was watching a late night K-Tel advertisement for the "Best of Boxcar Willie" (RIP).
"Tupelo"—Probably the least creative of the bunch. All they have is a fire backdrop.
"In The Ghetto"—A haunting cover the Elvis Presley classic. I kept closing my eyes just to hear it.
"Jack The Ripper"—Similar to Pearl Jam's "Jeremy's Spoken," with Joel Schumacher's lighting from Batman Forever.
"What A Wonderful World"—A duet of one of the best songs ever written. Shane MacGowan of the Pogues and Cave look like two crooners atop a couple of stools. Very simple but effective.
"Straight To You"—Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds perform at an empty high school dance.
"The Mercy Seat"—A surreal, orchestral mix of black and white and color that fits together rather nicely.
"The Weeping Song"—Great song, but boring…Nick Cave rowing.
"The Singer"—Very similar to the setting used for "What a Wonderful World." Again, great song.
"I Had A Dream Joe"—Filmed before a live studio audience.
"Wanted Man"—Good song, not much for the execution. Directed by Bad Seed Nick Harvey.
The thing about these videos is that they were made on very little money. With the exception of "Where the Wild Roses Grow," most of them probably had a less than modest budget. Fortunately, the music the band creates is strong enough that it doesn't need to hide behind the videos. In fact, the bare bones look of it all helps to enhance the moodiness of the songs. No one needs to turn into a panther or a fireball or employ any effects inspired by (stolen from) The Matrix for this collection. Thank the lord none of these were directed by Hype Williams.
Oddly, there are no audio options on this DVD. It sounds spectacular, but I find it strange that I had no choices. Luckily, my keen ears detected no problems in this PCM 2.0 Stereo mix. The picture quality was good. Some grain, but overall a nice effort by the good people of Mute Records and Rhino Video.
Unfortunately, there are no special features. Much like the videos themselves, the DVD itself is no-frills, no fancy stuff.
Anyone who's a fan of strong moody music with a healthy dose of atmosphere ought to pick up this gem. I'd even suggest it as a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds primer. We might not all have Jessie's girl, but we can at least get the Cave.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2004 David Gutierrez; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.