TOWERS OF SONG: a Nick Cave Sings Covers listening thread and poll

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Australian troubador Nicholas Edward Cave is well-noted as a songwriter, but has also dedicated much of his career to interpreting the lyrics of others. The recent artist poll allowed votes for covers sung by Cave, but with the premise that an adjunct poll would follow focusing on his performances of other peoples' ballads, laments and confessions. And here it is!

This thread will offer an example or three to consider each day that voting remains open. (So if you think you don't know enough to vote, you might by the end of the month. And either way, you can have fun listening along!)

Anything that Cave, or any two of his compatriots in various bands, have recorded is eligible, but I won't be tracking much that he didn't sing on, and nothing that hasn't been commercially released. Feel free to lobby for anything I haven't posted yet, but please link instead of embedding videos!

Send ballots to i l x polls ter [at] g ma il [dot] c o m by January 29th.

MINIMUM 5 votes
MAXIMUM 20 votes

Votes are weighted. Please send lists of song titles with your TOP choice at the TOP, but do not number your choices. (It's very helpful for tallying to not have 'em.)

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 07:10 (four weeks ago) link

Cave's first release ever was a cover. His earliest band The Boys Next Door, including guitarist Mick Harvey, bassist Tracy Pew and drummer Phill Calvert, recorded five originals for an overview of Melbourne punk bands in December 1977. These were rejected. On another try, the label accepted two of their own songs and a take on These Boots Are Made For Walkin', written & produced by Lee Hazelwood for Nancy Sinatra. The cover impressed the label enough to release it as a single in March 1978, ahead of the various artists album in May.

The Boys Next Door - These Boots Are Made For Walking

This 1965 song had initiated a fruitful muse/protegee/collaborator relationship between the dark-haired, self-mythologising writer Lee and blonde, toothy, pouting singer Nancy. During the London-Berlin-Melbourne-hopping years of bands The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds, dark-haired, self-mythologising Cave also mythologised the blonde, toothy, pouting Anita Lane: sometime backing singer, occasional songwriter, and on one record sleeve, simply a muse. By 1991, her various professional and personal relationships with Cave were long-concluded, but she and Rowland S. Howard teamed up with Magazine/Visage/Bad Seed/etc bassist/etc Barry Adamson for a very '91 take on the song.

Barry Adamson, Anita Lane and The Thought System Of Love ‎– These Boots Are Made For Walking

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 07:13 (four weeks ago) link

Cave's second single was also a cover, though of an unreleased song. Rowland S. Howard had written and recorded Shivers in his teenage bedroom, and performed it live as a guest at Boys Next Door shows, and with his own band Young Charlatans, before moving in Next Door. Cave sang the band's recording of it, to the long-lasting dissatisfaction of both Boys.

Young Charlatans - Shivers (January 1977)

The Boys Next Door - Shivers (January 1979)

Both men had notable second takes at the piece two decades later: Cave with Israeli band המכשפות (aka Ha-Mechashefot, aka The Witches), and Howard (backed by Harvey) on live-music-session TV show Studio 22.

המכשפות featuring Nick Cave ‎– Shivers (1996)

Rowland S. Howard - Shivers (1999)

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 11:07 (four weeks ago) link

All the founding members of the Boys Next Door had played in a mostly-Phill's-mum's-garage covers band together during high school (1972-75). Mick Harvey made his rejoining, after a year out in the real world with a job, conditional on the band starting to write their own songs. The early months were heavy on covers - here's a bundle played at their second-ever gig - but after those first 45s, the group and their sequel band The Birthday Party mostly eschewed covers.

The Birthday Party's main exceptions were regularly playing Catman by Gene Vincent in 1981, and frequently closing shows with Stooges covers. Catman is the only cover they released in a studio version, on the b-side of The Friend Catcher, but this had been recorded in Melbourne as The Boys Next Door before moving to London and changing the band's name.

The Birthday Party / The Boys Next Door - Catman (circa Jan 1980)

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 19:39 (four weeks ago) link

Various no-overdubs tapes have given us glimpses of the Birthday Party's rock action.

The Birthday Party - Loose (from the band's second Peel Session, April 81)

The Birthday Party - Loose (live at The Venue, London November 81) - from the EP Drunk On The Pope's Blood

The Birthday Party - Funhouse (live in Athens, September 82) - from the Live 1981-82 CD

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 30 December 2020 22:05 (four weeks ago) link

Odd, I know but I heard The Birthday Party play Loose (on Drunk On The Pope's Blood) before I heard the original.

stirmonster, Thursday, 31 December 2020 00:27 (three weeks ago) link


psyched for this as I had zero room for covers on my regular ballot

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Thursday, 31 December 2020 00:30 (three weeks ago) link

xp same here... the BP and the Fall were my gateway to the Stooges.

visiting, Thursday, 31 December 2020 00:45 (three weeks ago) link

same, now that I think about it

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Thursday, 31 December 2020 00:59 (three weeks ago) link

maybe not Loose specifically, but the bands for sure

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Thursday, 31 December 2020 01:00 (three weeks ago) link

Also in 1982, band members current, future and auxilary dipped into the Lee & Nancy well again. Credited to Rowland and performance artist / writer / vocalisator Lydia Lunch, this also featured Harvey, Adamson and Rowland's longtime collaborator & partner Genevieve McGuckin:

Rowland S. Howard / Lydia Lunch - Some Velvet Morning (March 1982)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 31 December 2020 03:59 (three weeks ago) link

Stepping into the confession booth, I have to admit I voted for "By the Time I get to Phoenix" #3 on my Nick Cave list. This is totally because in my 20s I would get totally bombed and then put that tune on repeat on the RCA player while I passed out in the floor shortly after daybreak mooning over the women in my life. I twas totally pathetic, but kind of hilarious in the rear view mirror. I got a real memory of Glen Campbell has a really young kid and this tune had always hit me. I really dig the Issac Hayes epic make out version too.

earlnash, Thursday, 31 December 2020 04:12 (three weeks ago) link

i love Cave’s version of Phoenix, it’s v good

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 31 December 2020 04:13 (three weeks ago) link

That watery bass line opening...very nice. Totally good fucked up listening, slow enough you can still enjoy it.

earlnash, Thursday, 31 December 2020 04:14 (three weeks ago) link

It's the only "proper" cover that placed in the main poll iirc! No need to confess.

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 31 December 2020 04:22 (three weeks ago) link

The Stooges covers were dropped by 1983, and by mid-year, the band fell apart too. Within months, Nick & Mick were recording again, with Blixa Bargeld, Clint Ruin and Barry Adamson for what wwould become the first Bad Seeds album, but first Nick rustled up heroin money on three continents by playing as "the Immaculate Consumptive" (with Marc Almond, Lydia, and Foetus), "Nick Cave - Man Or Myth?" (with Mick, Tracy, Barry and Hugo Race), and the A++ stupidly-named "Nick Cave & The Cavemen" (who became the Bad Seeds, with Mick, Blixa, Barry and Hugo).

The Immaculate Consumptive shows in the US were mainly performed as playback, with the various lead singer/musicians over tapes prepared hastily the week before in London by Mick, Blixa, Barry and Anni Hogan. These gigs & tapes debuted Nick's cover of Elvis Presley's 1969 Australian #1 single In The Ghetto (written by Mac Davis). It was re-recorded by the Cavemen lineup when Nick returned to London, and released as his first solo single ("featuring the Bad Seeds").

Nick Cave - In The Ghetto (March 1984)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 31 December 2020 06:02 (three weeks ago) link

The same month as that recording, The Cavemen played a Peel Session that included a take on Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 1956 I Put A Spell On You, returning to one of the Boys Next Doors' initial live staples (see zip upthread).

Harvey was so unhappy with this entire session that when NME cassette and crossword supremo Fred Dellar licensed it for a covermount, Mick, Nick & Hugo re-recorded the cover in an afternoon.

Nick Cave & The Cavemen - I Put A Spell On You (Peel Session, March 1984)

Nick Cave & The Cavemen - I Put A Spell On You (NME version, April 84) (mp3 link, expires in 2 weeks {but it's been OOP for 36 years})

Nick revisited the song for charity 26 years later, as part of an ensemble.

Shane MacGowan feat. Nick Cave, Bobby Gillespie, Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones, Cait O'Riordan, Glen Matlock, Paloma Faith, Eliza Doolittle & Johnny Depp - I Put A Spell On You (2010)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 31 December 2020 11:19 (three weeks ago) link

(Depp and Jones do not sing)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 31 December 2020 11:55 (three weeks ago) link

Nick Cave's first 'solo' album From Her To Eternity (with "featuring the Bad Seeds" relegated to the back cover) came out the month before the non-album Elvis single, opening with a take on Leonard Cohen.

Nick Cave - Avalanche (featuring the Bad Seeds, c. Mar 1984)

Cave also returned to this piece - originally written by Cohen as a poem and published in 1966's slight volume Parasites Of Heaven - for the Treasure Island prequel TV series Black Sails (me neither) in 2015, and on his solo tour that year.

Nick Cave - Avalanche (for Black Sails, 2015)

Nick Cave - Avalanche (live at the Hammersmith Apollo, 2015 - the show was released as an "instant live" album, but this is a front-row audience video)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 31 December 2020 19:18 (three weeks ago) link

Loving the care taken in this thread so far, although i think it's cheating to call Shivers a cover, any more than any of the other Rowland songs by the BP such as the Cave version of Ho Ho Ho, or Dim Locator.

My ballot for the proper poll had 5 or 6 covers, including Phoenix at #5, and I think Nick's done several great covers that aren't on Kicking Against the Pricks (Helpless, the messy version of Tower of Song, Rainy Night in Soho, Fun House, Wanted Man) but I think Pricks is a much better covers album than you have any right to expect from someone who has so many covers that just kind of hamfistedly bluster their way through the melody and don't really do much with the music. There are a few interesting covers that I don't love but at least try to really reinvent the material, like Avalanche... starting your solo debut lp and your solo debut single with two different covers is interesting.

One thing that really sticks out, is the post-Boys Next Door Birthday Party covered 2 Stooges songs and nothing else. What other bands could they even cover? On the vanguard of noisy post punk listening to other music must have felt superfluous. Marc Riley era Fall had hardly any covers either, a minute of a Sabbath tune on a live bootleg, and a piss take of a pop hit on a Peel Session. One can squint one's ears and imagine Rowland and Tracey on the From Her To Eternity album, somehow accepting the need to give more negative space to the cavernous dirges that make up the record besides Cabin Fever, but adding a bit more scuzz and grime and fire to the proceedings. But what would they have done with In The Ghetto? It almost feels like a declaration of independence from the Birthday Party, to move in this direction of irony-soaked bathos shrouded in gothic cobwebs. It seems very much like Nick wanted to pick the exactly least expected Elvis tune to debut with, like maybe he was also considering turning Rock-A-Hula Baby into a heartfelt ballad.

mig (guess that dreams always end), Friday, 1 January 2021 01:43 (three weeks ago) link

What other bands could they even cover?

spoilers! ;)

almost feels like a declaration of independence from the Birthday Party

yeah, feels very likely that the Avalanche / Ghetto double was intentional in that way

I know Rock-A-Hula Baby from the PWEI cover, of course

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 1 January 2021 02:41 (three weeks ago) link

The second Nick Cave (now And The Bad Seeds, and minus Hugo Race) album, The Firstborn Is Dead, was recorded eight months after the first. Its release was delayed, though, until after its UK launch tour, by the wait for Bob Dylan to approve Cave's rewrite of a song the Zim'd abandoned in 1969 to Johnny Cash's own rewrite, Wanted Man.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Wanted Man (c. Nov 1984)

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 1 January 2021 22:28 (three weeks ago) link

going back chronologically -- this was a cover of an Aussie (?) garage rock band (i think) song that they used to do and was on a number of live albums

sarahell, Friday, 1 January 2021 22:57 (three weeks ago) link

(The delay was probably just as well, as half the band couldn't tour and were replaced by two members of Die Haut, who knew neither the songs nor the English language (Rowland was also roped in, on several hours' notice, also not knowing the new band's material). Despite this, drummer Thomas Wydler has yet to leave this nine-date fill in gig, 36 years later.

(Just before the tour, they recorded a version of a Birthday Party song for a b-side, if anyone wants to count that.)

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 1 January 2021 23:20 (three weeks ago) link

In November 1985, a supergroup of the current Bad Seeds, plus Hugo and visits from Tracy and Rowland, convened for a mega-album of covers and interpretations. Nick and Mick continued recording through December and January, after which the studio held the tapes for months until the band paid their extensive bill. Barry quit before the final session in Berlin, leaving a half-Aussie/half-Deutsche band.

The "Kicking Against The Pricks" album (on which the band are ampersanded) includes covers of

Muddy Water [Johnny Cash cover, written by Phil Rosenthal]
I'm Gonna Kill That Woman [John Lee Hooker cover]
Sleeping Annaleah [cover of Weeping Annaleah by Tom Jones, written by Newbury/Folger]
Long Black Veil [Lefty Frizell and/or Johnny Cash cover, wr. Dill/Wilkin]
Hey Joe [Tim Rose and/or Hendrix cover, wr. Billy Roberts and/or various]
The Singer [cover of The Folksinger by J. Cash & Charlie Daniels]
All Tomorrow's Parties [Velvet Underground cover]
By The Time I Get To Phoenix [Jimmy Webb cover, also notably recorded by Isaac Hayes]
The Hammer Song (Sensational Alex Harvey Band cover, whose material provided much of their teenage repertoire)
Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart [Gene Pitney et al cover, wr. Greenaway/Cook]
Jesus Met The Woman At The Well [trad.]
The Carnival Is Over [cover of Australian 1960s folk-poppers The Seekers, wr. trad/Springfield/Vanilli]

The Singer 12" had versions of Roy Orbison's Running Scared and Leadbelly's Black Betty on the b-side, which were added to most CD versions of the album "in between" side A & B. So I assume most posters have either heard these, or use streaming services with all of 'em on.

shivers me timber (sic), Saturday, 2 January 2021 20:55 (three weeks ago) link

If we weren't doing a separate covers poll, I would have put Black Betty in my top five ...

One could draw a lyrical connection between the cover of Jesus Met the Woman At The Well to the Witness Song from The Good Son

sarahell, Saturday, 2 January 2021 21:22 (three weeks ago) link

yeah that Black Betty is way up there

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Saturday, 2 January 2021 21:49 (three weeks ago) link

i love every cover on this album

Long Black Veil, Running Scared, Something’s Gotten Hold of my heart are deep deep faves

but Sleeping Annaleah is the one for me currently

doing Tom Jones *ever*, for *any* band is reaaaaaallly pushing the boat out even if you are going for irony

the fact that they do it sincerely - i just could not love them enough for pulling it off

like, technically, Nick is not that singer at all: but Nick performs the song with the same intensity & conveys the earnest emotion necessary to take it where it needs to go (and the band’s arrangement & backing vocals are magic)

it’s so impressive to me. and ~deeply~ uncool
for 1984 times

all the hats off

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 2 January 2021 22:02 (three weeks ago) link

yeah an album with no bad songs

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Saturday, 2 January 2021 22:13 (three weeks ago) link

Another traditional song (likely learnt via Woody Guthrie) from the sessions was eventually released on a flexidisk in Reflex magazine in 1989.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Rye Whiskey

shivers me timber (sic), Saturday, 2 January 2021 22:42 (three weeks ago) link

ahhhhhh so great i love this one too

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 2 January 2021 22:42 (three weeks ago) link

Also recorded, but never heard, were "No, Your Product" (by Brisbane's punk pioneers The Saints),"Everlovin' Man" & "Sad Dark Eyes" (by 1960s Aussies The Loved Ones, who had also been recently covered by INXS), "Cry Of The Wild Goose" (Frankie Lane), "John Henry" (Leadbelly) and "Did You Hear About Jerry?" (Harry Belafonte).

Recorded and passed about on hissy cassettes for decades were the trad-via-Bobby-Bare "500 Miles" and Cash cover "Bull Rider." (500 Miles was played live in 1987, and after being revived for this KCRW performance, became a regular in 1989 setlists.) ((The same semi-impromptu acoustic session provided a swing at Bobby Hebb's "Sunny"))

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 3 January 2021 01:13 (three weeks ago) link

how the fuck has there not been an expanded edition with those 5 extra session tracks, jfc

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Sunday, 3 January 2021 01:36 (three weeks ago) link


shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 3 January 2021 01:41 (three weeks ago) link

o right your latest post listed six not 5, plus the 3 that are on the B-sides comp

just insane to me that this stuff languishes in the vaults

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Sunday, 3 January 2021 04:47 (three weeks ago) link

especially given the CD+DVD remaster series

(it's eleven counting the ones on the b-sides box)

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 3 January 2021 05:20 (three weeks ago) link

I read somewhere that they also recorded Eternally Yours (Laughing Clowns song) at these sessions. Would love to hear this, if it indeed exists.

the least famous person you were surprised to discover (emsworth), Sunday, 3 January 2021 10:08 (three weeks ago) link

Three months after Kicking, the band released a double EP by the four-piece lineup, although they'd added an extra German and an American in meatspace in the meanwhile. This was the last studio album ever to include a cover song: another 1967 Tim Rose joint, his reworking of prison song It Make A Long Time Man Feel Bad.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Long Time Man (c. Jul 1986)

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 3 January 2021 12:35 (three weeks ago) link

oops: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Long Time Man (c. Jul 1986)

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 3 January 2021 12:37 (three weeks ago) link

another deep fave, love this one too

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 3 January 2021 16:04 (three weeks ago) link

Re last studio album to include a cover, did I misread/misunderstand or is this not Murder Ballads?

the least famous person you were surprised to discover (emsworth), Sunday, 3 January 2021 20:31 (three weeks ago) link

yes, I forgot that there's one straight cover as well as the trad.s on there

It did take about five years before another cover came out credited to the Bad Seeds at all. Various members kept their hands in, though.

Anita Lane's 1988 debut EP Dirty Sings included a heavily-Seeded take on Chic's 1979 (and 1984) megabeast Lost In Music, fronted by Sister Sledge. Barry, Thomas, Nick (on organ) and Mick all play and, to my ear's guess, sing.

Anita Lane - Lost In Music (recorded July 1987)

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 3 January 2021 20:35 (three weeks ago) link

Sibling band Die Haut, usually instrumentally-focused, had recruited Cave to sing on most of their 1983 album Burnin' The Ice. They turned again to drummer Wydler's Bad Seed bandmates to staff the vocal side of 1988's Headless Body In Topless Bar LP. Anita wrote her own lyric, and Kid "Congo" Powers wrote two, but Nick - with Mick on bass and piano - took a swing at Mickey Newbury's Just Dropped In (originally recorded in 1967 by The First Edition, a Kenny Rogers-led band with a session guitar intro by Glen Campbell on the record). tbh, he does not sound like he's in much condition to see what condition his condition was in.

Die Haut - I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 4 January 2021 09:57 (three weeks ago) link

Harvey stayed on piano for his own vocal take on the aforementioned Sad Dark Eyes, not released by the Bad Seeds two years before. The Loved Ones song had been the other cover in the Birthday Party's live repertoire in 1982, and a regular setlist fixture for the Bad Seeds in 1985. Cave gave it another swing around the stage at a 1992 Die Haut show released on the 1993 live album Sweat.

Die Haut - Sad Dark Eyes (studio version, Mick vocal)

Die Haut - Sad Dark Eyes (live Berlin Tempodrom 1992, Nick vocal)

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 4 January 2021 12:36 (three weeks ago) link

By the way, the video for the original is pretty great for an Australian group in 1967.

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 4 January 2021 12:59 (three weeks ago) link

Die Haut also filled the second side of their 1992 album Head On with Seed associates - Anita, Kid Congo, Lydia Lunch and Blixa variously write and sing four of them, but there's one cover: Peggy Lee and Victor Young's theme song to the 1954 Nicholas Ray / Joan Crawford Western "Johnny Guitar."

Die Haut featuring Blixa Bargeld - Johnny Guitar

Die Haut - Johnny Guitar (live Berlin Tempodrom 1992, Blixa vocal)

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 4 January 2021 20:44 (three weeks ago) link

1989 saw Nick Cave releasing a cover under his own name again, for the Neil Young tribute album The Bridge. The song Helpless was a 1969 Young composition, released by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970. For the solo-credited Cave version, Kid Congo Powers played slide, and Mick Harvey played stationary guitar, bass guitar, drums, produced the record and multitracked a small choir of himself (with a touch of his Crime & The City Solution bandmate Bronwyn Adams) singing backing vocals.

Nick Cave - Helpless

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 10:35 (three weeks ago) link

I love that one so much

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 13:56 (three weeks ago) link

that whole comp is pretty solid iirc

howls of non-specificity (sleeve), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 17:05 (three weeks ago) link

Not a release, but a new (and eventually the most stable) lineup of the Bad Seeds returned to another of their 1985 staples for a quick knees-up on Later With Jools Holland in December 1990. Martyn Casey had been recruited on bass after The Triffids split, and having broken the dam on adding Australians for the first time since the band formed in 1984, Conway Savage joined on piano-shaped things.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Cindy Cindy (live on Later)

Their version of the American folk song was based on the one adapted by Ben Weisman, Buddy Kaye and former Ed Wood girlfriend Dolores Fuller for Elvis Presley (circa 1970?), and covered by Johnny Cash. Cash himself returned to the song in his latter-day Rick Rubin sessions, as a duet with Nick (backed by various bluegrass allstars, and possibly Benmont Tench and / or Glen Campbell.)

Johnny Cash With Nick Cave - Cindy

(released on the Redemption Songs album in 2002's posthumous Unearthed boxset, comprising four new Cash / Rubin joints and a best-of-their-first-four disc.)

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 19:57 (three weeks ago) link

In 1991, the Bad Seeds released their first newly-recorded cover since 1986. The Leonard Cohen tribute album I'm Your Fan (best tribute LP title ever?) featured two Antipodean/German takes on the same song, the other headlined by former Birthday Party squatmate Robert Forster. The Bad Seeds created their take on Len's 1988 Tower Of Song by jamming it in a variety of genres for 80 minutes, then editing down a five-minute medley.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Tower Of Song

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Tower Of Song (long 33-minute edit)

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 6 January 2021 20:51 (three weeks ago) link

Despite breaking that drought, the band were relegated to nigh-anonymity on the next year's all-covers nigh-EP. The A-side was Nick Cave & Shane MacGowan covering Louis Armstrong's 1967 UK #1 What A Wonderful World (wr. Douglas/Weiss). The b-side saw each singer covering the other: Nick on the Pogues' Rainy Night In Soho (from 1986's Poguetry In Motion EP), and Shane on Lucy (from the Bad Seeds' 1990 LP The Good Son).

Nick Cave & Shane MacGowan - What A Wonderful World
Nick Cave - Rainy Night In Soho
Shane MacGowan - Lucy (Version #2)

Nick also did Rainy Night solo circa 1997 for that year's Shane MacGowan doco The Great Hunger.

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 7 January 2021 18:09 (two weeks ago) link

Somewhere around the time of their Lee & Nancy cover, Barry and Anita (and some Germans) took a similarly sultry/unsettling swing at Marvin Gaye's 1982 Sexual Healing.

Anita Lane - Sexual Healing (c. 1992)

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 8 January 2021 00:54 (two weeks ago) link

The Bad Seeds' next cover took over a decade to come to light. Recorded for an album of Australian country tribute album that never came out, it debuted on the B-Sides & Rarities box set. A recording appeared on the songwriter John Ashe's 1974 Advance Australia Fair Dinkum LP (NOT to be confused with 1973's Fair Dinkum Mate!, or with 1971's Fair Dinkum Aussie Fun), but Cave probably knew it from Chad Morgan's 1964 single.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - There's No Night Out in the Jail (c. 1993)

Morgan versions can be found on the 1974 Chad Morgan Sings John Ashe LP, and the 1981 Sheilas, Drongos, Dills And Other Geezers - 20 Chad Morgan Greats compilation. At 87, he's still performing, though I assume this 2020 Cruisin' Country package holiday was cancelled.

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:42 (two weeks ago) link

Anita Lane's 1993 LP Dirty Pearl had been recorded piecemeal over a decade, so it was in keeping with that languid pace that its lead single didn't come out until 1995. It was probably the recording of the B-sides that prompted the release at all. As part of his first two solo albums, an array of his own English translations of Serge Gainsbourg songs, Mick Harvey recorded Anita and Nick doing Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus. Presumably in the same session, they knocked out an interpretation of Drimble Wedge & The Vegetation's Bedazzled, from the titular Cook / Moore film.

Anita Lane - I Love You... Nor Do I (Nick Cave vocal duet, all instruments by Mick Harvey)
Anita Lane - Bedazzled (as per)

shivers me timber (sic), Saturday, 9 January 2021 19:09 (two weeks ago) link

* non-eligible single-Seed sidebar:

Harvey retranslated the Gainsbourg song into German two decades later for his second batch of two Serge albums, and his official youtube channel has an English version of that recording, which appears not to have been released anywhere else.

Mick Harvey featuring Andrea Schroeder - Ich Liebe Dich... Ich Dich Auch Nicht
Mick Harvey - I Love You... Nor Do I

and Barry Adamson had a go at the original French lyric on his 1993 album The Negro Inside Me:

Barry Adamson - Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 10 January 2021 00:57 (two weeks ago) link

There are seven more Mick & Anita takes on Gainsbourg songs across Mick's Intoxicated Man album, the Initials B.B. single b-sides, and a bonus 7" that came with the 2014 LP reissue. If I run out of Cave-sung covers before the month is out, we'll dip back.

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 10 January 2021 20:41 (two weeks ago) link

Nearly a decade after their last bout of reinterpreting traditional songs, the Bad Seeds knocked out a solid fistful for the 1995-96 Murder Ballads b-sides and LP. Folks are probably familiar with the Lee twins...

Nick Cave & PJ Harvey and The Bad Seeds - Henry Lee
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Stagger Lee

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 10 January 2021 23:34 (two weeks ago) link

...but let's also note

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - The Willow Garden
(the trad song is also known as Down In The Willow Garden and Rose Connelly, here sung by Conway Savage. A live take with Nick is here, for the curious)

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Knoxville Girl

Despite the credits, that last is just Nick singing with James Johnston of Gallon Drunk on guitar. Remember the name!

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 10 January 2021 23:54 (two weeks ago) link

The album closed with a full-on Bob Dylan cover, with in-band and guest vocals by Nick, Kylie Minogue, Blixa, Shane MacGowan, PJ Harvey, Thomas Wydler, and Anita Lane.

Nick Caev And The Bad Seeds - Death Is Not The End

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 11 January 2021 08:46 (two weeks ago) link

I was oblivious to the Chad Morgan connection. Nice!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Monday, 11 January 2021 09:59 (two weeks ago) link

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 11 January 2021 10:10 (two weeks ago) link

yeah that was a good tidbit sic - nice one

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 11 January 2021 16:54 (two weeks ago) link

The uncanny thing about Cave's cover of Death Is Not the End is that it seems to entirely flip the message of Dylan's original. Whereas Dylan is saying that it doesn't matter how bad things get in this life, because everything will be fine in the afterlife, the way Cave and the rest of them sing it, they seem to be saying the exact opposite – that death brings no end to suffering, which continues eternally.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Monday, 11 January 2021 17:52 (two weeks ago) link

speaking of

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 11 January 2021 18:55 (two weeks ago) link

In the next 25 years, The Bad Seeds will release just one more cover. But still in 1996, the core of the band snuck another Dylan version out on the Blixa Bargeld / Nick Cave / Mick Harvey soundtrack to regular collaborator John Hillcoat's film To Have And To Hold (with additional arrangements by Barry Adamson, and a sole guest singer).

Scott Walker - I Threw It All Away

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 11 January 2021 18:55 (two weeks ago) link

Death Is Not The End had appeared on Dylan's extremely unbeloved Down In The Groove album in 1983, with the bemusing one-song-only backing band of Sly & Robbie, Mark Knopfler & Alan Clark (Dire Straits & Local Hero keyboardist), and Full Force and Clydie King on BVs.

I Threw It All Away was a single from the better-regarded Nashville Skyline in 1969, backed by an array of country session guns & songwriters like Norman Blake and Charlie Daniels.

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 11 January 2021 19:14 (two weeks ago) link

Nick wasted no time in continuing to issue covers outside the band. The same year, he made two appearances to close out Current 93's All The Pretty Little Horses, the middle LP of 93blokey David Tibet's The Inmost Light trilogy. One was the titular American lullaby, one was based on extracts from mathematician & philosopher Blaise Pascal (d. 1662)'s Pensées.

Current 93 - All The Pretty Little Horses
Current 93 - Patripassian

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 09:08 (two weeks ago) link

was just listening to that record the other day, to say that Cave's appearance on that record was a surprise in 1996 is a serious understatement

Überschadenfreude (sleeve), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 15:30 (two weeks ago) link

i had totally forgotten about these and had never known Patripassian was a cover, of sorts. Will add that.

stirmonster, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 16:26 (two weeks ago) link

plain gold ring off live seeds is one of my favorites

Wayne Grotski (symsymsym), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 19:13 (two weeks ago) link

A 1959-released hit for Miss Toni Fisher, written by Wayne Shanklin for his own Signet Records label, is claimed to be the first record with flanging on it. In 1997, Cave teamed up with that former one-B-side-only (and Lollapalooza) Bad Seed James Johnston and his group Gallon Drunk to cover it, for Jez Butterworth's film adaptation of his play Mojo.

Nick Cave & Gallon Drunk - The Big Hurt

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 19:38 (two weeks ago) link

The same year saw the Most Likely Cave Cover ever, from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's 1928 The Threepenny Opera. The recording was done for a documentary / tribute album coordinated by Hal Willner. Remember the name!

Nick Cave with Spanish Fly and Kenny Wolleston - Mack The Knife

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:49 (two weeks ago) link

Perhaps spurred by Harvey's recent acclaim covering a French songwriter, in 1999 Cave and Bertrand Burgalat took on Polnareff's decade-earlier comeback hit Goodbye Marylou, for the album Hommage À Polnareff. (Written by mysterious svengali Michel Polnareff, lyrics co-written by Jean-René Mariani.)

Nick Cave - Goodbye Marylou

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 08:02 (two weeks ago) link

Rowland inaugurated the new millennium with an Iggy Pop cover, for Dogs In Space director (and his future biographer) Richard Lowenstein's film adaptation of He Died With A Felafel In His Hand. Full credits aren't readily available, but let's face it, it's probably Mick Harvey and Brian Hooper. (Seed associate and future Rowland tribute album contributor Noah Taylor stars in the film, so there's one extra link.)

Rowland S. Howard - The Passenger (2001)

Written with guitarist Ricky Gardiner, for Mr Pop's 1977 album Lust Is Life.

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 20:07 (two weeks ago) link

For that year's soundtrack to Jessie Nelson and Kristine Johnson's film I Am Sam, Cave recorded a Beatles cover. By plan or chance, he recorded a second one while he was at it, which came out the next year as a single.

Nick Cave - Here Comes the Sun (single 2002)
Nick Cave - Let It Be (OST 2001, b-side 2002)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 14 January 2021 17:59 (one week ago) link

lol wtf

Überschadenfreude (sleeve), Thursday, 14 January 2021 18:20 (one week ago) link

Something of a counter to my "most likely Cave cover ever" earlier.

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 14 January 2021 19:03 (one week ago) link

Johnny Cash and Nick squeaked one duet from their session out just before Cash's 2002 death, on American IV. Rick Rubin had asked Cave what song he would most like to record with The Older Man In Black, given the opportunity, and he nominated one frequently covered by Cash, originally released as a Hank Williams b-side in 1949.

Johnny Cash with Nick Cave - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

(Music by Williams, lyrics disputed.)

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 15 January 2021 03:31 (one week ago) link

Also in 2002, Nick returned to the Velvet Underground catalogue with electronic popper Chris Coco.

Chris Coco feat. Nick Cave - Sunday Morning

(Like his kicked prick, from the 1968 debut LP Velvet Underground & Nico.)

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 15 January 2021 11:13 (one week ago) link

Still in 2002, Pulp's Bad Cover Version single came with two good cover versions as its b-side. Moloko's Róisín Murphy questioned the band's Sorted For E's And Wizz, and Nick Cave quested retroactively for 1995's Disco 2000, backed by Richard Hawley and Martin Slattery, and unspecified full-time members of Pulp.

Nick Cave - Disco 2000

Four years later, Pulp put a different version on a different kind of B-side - presumably from the same session.

Nick Cave - Disco 2000 (Pub Rock Version)

Another 14 years after that, Universal Music Group published it to the Bad Seeds' youtube page, claiming that it was previously unreleased. The future really works.

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 15 January 2021 19:13 (one week ago) link

2003 saw the only non-Cave-composition released by the Bad Seeds in the last 25 years. At one minute 47, they really made the most of it!

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - I Feel So Good

From Wim Wenders' documentary The Soul Of A Man, about blues musicians Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir, this cover is of the latter circa 1954.

shivers me timber (sic), Saturday, 16 January 2021 09:22 (one week ago) link

2006 saw Cave crack out half a dozen non-originals for various Hal Willner projects, before taking five years off from covers again.

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 17 January 2021 01:43 (one week ago) link

Just fifteen years too soon for this week's TikTok trend, Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Song And Chanteys was a loose waft of a tie-in with the Pirates Of The Caribbean films. Executive producer credits for J. Depp and Gore Verbinski gave Willner the excuse to convene two discs of all-stars. Nick's two songs include Kate St. John, Leo Abrahams, Martyn Barker of Shriekback, Andy Newmark of Sly & The Family Stone, and Warren in the backing band. (The same group also back Bryan Ferry and David Thomas of Pere Ubu, amongst others, on the record.)

Nick Cave - Fire Down Below
Nick Cave - Pinery Boy

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 17 January 2021 01:45 (one week ago) link

Another Willner project was compiled that year from a series of concerts he'd staged in 1999 and 2001, with a similar array of contributors to the pirate record. No idea what year or who played on Nick's contribution to the 2CD/2DVD The Harry Smith Project: Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited - the director stays in head-and-shoulder shots on Cave and the female backing singers.

Nick Cave - John the Revelator (Live)
Nick Cave - Shine On Me (Live)

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 17 January 2021 19:36 (one week ago) link

Nick had also, unsurprisingly, sung twice at Willner's "Came So Far For Beauty" Leonard Cohen tribute shows. A 2006 documentary based on the 2005 Sydney Opera House version was accompanied by a soundtrack mainly recorded at the Brighton Dome installment in 2004.

Nick Cave - I'm Your Man (Live)
Nick Cave, Julie Christensen, Perla Batalla - Suzanne (Live)

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 18 January 2021 03:32 (one week ago) link

Five years on, what could bring The Dark Professor Of Serious Adult Music back to other peoples' songs, but a chance to record for the soundtrack of a "sexy vampires" soap opera?

Neko Case & Nick Cave - She's Not There

Brief may have gotten confused somewhat - Neko and her co-singer are covering some zombies here, from 1964.

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 18 January 2021 22:19 (one week ago) link

Here's one I had in the wrong place, due to: figuring out the complexities of the Jools Holland R&B Orchestra's similarly-designed & frequently-retitled discography is not something I expected would be necessary tbrr. This was written by TV host Jools and 1980s popster Sam Brown, and in fact might not technically be a cover here at all, by some lights. It appears as a ukulele demo on a self-released EP by Brown later though, and almost certainly wasn't written for Cave, so let's count it.

Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra feat. Nick Cave & Sam Brown - Kiss Of Love (2003)

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 19 January 2021 06:02 (one week ago) link

Well that's interesting. I'd forgotten about all about Brown. I used to have her first (I think) record (well, cassette) as a child.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 08:50 (one week ago) link

used to have

did you Stop!?

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 19 January 2021 19:34 (one week ago) link

While we're going back in time to visit jaunty pop with a melancholy twist, here's a super rarity to download. At the turn of the century, both the Bad Seeds drummers teamed up for a side band, with a variety of floating guests (including former Seed Kid Congo Powers, and future Seed Larry Mullins/Toby Dammit).

Their self-titled album closed with a hidden track, duetting the Bacharach / David song written for 1969's Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, which became a huge hit for BJ Thomas.

The Vanity Set - Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (mp3 link for two weeks)

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 20 January 2021 06:16 (one week ago) link

The band's followup album, in 2003, included an unsecret cover of the Bee Gees' I Started A Joke, but Sclavunos assembled a completely different array of musicians around him that time.

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 20 January 2021 07:08 (one week ago) link

Unlike most of Cave & Ellis' score-based film work, the Hillcoat Western "Lawless" saw them convene a house band with Dave Sardy, Bad Seed Martyn Casey and became-a-Bad-Seed-promptly afterward George Vjestica, to back two guest star singers on a healthy chunk of covers and a few Cave / Ellis originals. Nick sang one himself, recorded alone by John Lee Hooker in 1959, and released on an almost-titular album in 1964.

The Bootleggers featuring Nick Cave - Burnin' Hell

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 20 January 2021 18:51 (one week ago) link

Mark Lanegan was brought in for three covers on that 2012 soundtrack - each of these also had a solo bluegrassier version interpreted by Ralph Stanley, to be used in a less anachronistic mode in the film.

The Bootleggers featuring Mark Lanegan - Fire And Brimstone (originally a single from Link Wray's self-titled 1971 album)

The Bootleggers featuring Mark Lanegan - White Light / White Heat (title track of the Velvet Underground's 1968 LP)

The Bootleggers featuring Mark Lanegan - Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do (originally on Captain Beefheart's 1967 Safe As Milk LP)

shivers me timber (sic), Wednesday, 20 January 2021 21:45 (one week ago) link

Emmylou Harris mostly fronts originals on the album, but does lace two covers.

The Bootleggers featuring Emmylou Harris - Snake Song (original by Townes Van Zandt, on his 1978 Flyin' Shoes. This version opens with a minute of Stanley singing one of the Cave/Ellis pieces.)

The Bootleggers featuring Emmylou Harris - So You'll Aim Towards The Sky (original written by Jason Lytle, on Grandaddy's second album The Sophtware Slump, from 2000.)

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 21 January 2021 07:56 (six days ago) link

Seven years after the first, Hal Willner produced another Verbinksi/Depp-approved sea shanty collection. For Son Of Rogues Gallery, Nick (on BVs and piano) and Warren (violin) revisited The Threepenny Opera in support to singer and harmoniumister Shilpa Ray.

Shilpa Ray w/ Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Pirate Jenny

shivers me timber (sic), Thursday, 21 January 2021 19:44 (six days ago) link

Prolific baby-daddy Cave appeared on a 2016 Starbucks-exclusive album by childrens' artist Dan Zanes, singing another shanty. The song was recorded by Alan Lomax circa April 1960, performed by a group of fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico that he noted as the Bright Light Quartette.

Dan Zanes feat. Nick Cave - Sweet Rosyanne

shivers me timber (sic), Friday, 22 January 2021 20:05 (five days ago) link

Producer (and guitarist) T-Bone Burnett recruited Nick and Warren for the 2015 True Detective telly soundtrack album. They took on a 1979 #1 single by Larry Gatlin And The Gatlin Brothers Band, notably performed at Ronald Reagan's second inaugural gala. Bringing in a star violinist saw Laurel Canyon Rambler and Punch Brother Gabe Witcher switch to bass from fiddle for this track.

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - All the Gold In California

shivers me timber (sic), Saturday, 23 January 2021 19:15 (four days ago) link

only one more Cave-sung cover to go! if I've missed anything, get ready to plug it.

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 24 January 2021 03:20 (three days ago) link

Mick's first single from Intoxicated Man was fronted by himself, but had two b-sides that turned up two years later on his second Gainsbourg album, one of which featured Anita.

Mick Harvey - The Ballad Of Melody Nelson (b-side 1995)

shivers me timber (sic), Sunday, 24 January 2021 23:47 (three days ago) link

The second single from Intoxicated Man spotlighted one of the songs fronted by Ms Lane, and gave her front cover credit, despite not appearing on any of the three B-sides..

Mick Harvey & Anita Lane - Harley Davidson (LP 1995, single 1996)

(When the Pink Elephants album came out the following year, the five previously-released B-sides were clustered at the end, suggesting he thought of them as bonus tracks added to a half-hour album.)

shivers me timber (sic), Monday, 25 January 2021 11:01 (two days ago) link

But the back cover of Intoxicated Man had toplined the project as "Songs Of Serge Gainsbourg Sung In English By Mick Harvey & Anita Lane. Here are the four album-only Anita-featuring tracks from that round of Mick's translations:

Mick Harvey & Anita Lane - 69 Erotic Year
Mick Harvey & Anita Lane - Ford Mustang
Mick Harvey & Anita Lane - Overseas Telegram
Mick Harvey & Anita Lane - Bonnie & Clyde

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 26 January 2021 05:49 (yesterday) link

After another five year break, our old pal Hal Willner dragged Nicholas back last year for a T-Rex tribute album, AngelHeaded Hipster.

Nick Cave - Cosmic Dancer (LP August 2020, 7" Nov 2020)

Willner had died of COVID four months before the album's release, so we might expect another long gap between covers for Cave. Due to a fluke of availability, the drummer on this recording is Superchunk / Bob Mould / Mountain Goats / Split Single skinsman and Best Show comedian Jon Wurster.

shivers me timber (sic), Tuesday, 26 January 2021 18:17 (yesterday) link

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