Birthday Party Live 1981-82

Culled from the private collection of founding member Mick Harvey with assistance from super fan Henry Rollins, the only live album from these Australian bastards is a brilliant effort in capturing pure chaos. Whether it’s Nick Cave’s howls and murderous screams, Harvey’s squalor of blues guitar playing, Rowland S. Howard’s high pitched guitar riffs, Tracy Pew’s thumping bass being buried in the background and Phil Calvert’s hammering drum sound, this beast finds the band at their peak. Crowd response sounds as though members of the audience are enthused and stunned at the same time. By performing so well together, the frenzied noise has been planned, although it doesn’t seem like that could be humanly possible. The chaos engulfing the band on stage can sound just like an uproar to some, but the true beauty of the clamour is that the Birthday Party are in complete control. They don’t loosen the reigns of their sound monster at all and continue to pummel and capture the darker side of man for the length of the disc. Cave’s brilliance in this area is much more palatable than on any Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album. For those who were turned onto the Bad Seeds before experiencing their first band, this can be a difficult proposition. Very few elements of the former band exist on a Bad Seeds album and no one would have been able to predict that Cave and Harvey would go onto form another extraordinary band that isn’t based on the noise of the Stooges and the Velvet Underground. The only downside to this album is that is has been taken from three different locations and melded into one piece of music. For most of us, the chance to witness the Birthday Party live would never have been a reality, unless your parents are punks or you’re planning your retirement while you’re reading this. This live album is a connection to what was unfolding if you were busy watching Sesame Street. (4AD)