Of course, “Nocturama” contains more of the same. This voice, long since rhapsody, hymn, longing. The piano. The baroque, comforting spatial sound. Warren Ellis’ violin. The Bad Seeds sometimes dabbing, groping as the Apollonian Salvation Army in the background, sometimes rumbling and bawling as a hell squad. But once heard three times, these night pieces prove to be the culmination of the trilogy that began with the love songs of a doubting boatman, continued with the zealous incantations of an ill-timed creature, and now ends with these heartfelt, weighty, majestic ballads (and sometimes fury songs). Calm comes – in the 40 verses and 13 minutes of the true madness “Babe, I’m On Fire”.
But until then, Nick Cave is celebrating life like he did on The Boatman’s Call when he woke to the sun on the pillow and the morning bird and picked up the Sunday paper and didn’t read a line. This time he finds this idyll of stillness in “Wonderful Life”: “Sometimes our secrets are all we’ve got/ With our lives we must defend/ Sometimes it’s wise to lay down your gloves/ And just give in/ Come in/ It’s a wonderful life/ If you can find it.” Hearing this from the Birthday Party singer may come as a surprise to those who haven’t aged 20 years.
“He Wants You” is a pure love song (but one that taunts the suitor), “Bring It On” picks up the pace, threateningly positions the Bad Seeds. In “Dead Man In My Bed” the men lash out for the first time in the style of the most brutal “Murder Ballads”.
But then Cave becomes very calm again, the drums are canceled, the violin smolders: “Still In Love”. And just as the greatest moment of “No More Shall We Part” is when they came to this road and met (the road that brings death at the end), so this time it’s this powerful, unforgettable moment: “Now, you’re standing at the top of the stairs/ One hand on the banister, a flower in your hair/ The other one resting on your hip/ Without a solitary care/ I fall to sleep in the summer rain.”
There are other wonderful moments on this record, the light-hearted, lustfully nonsensical rhymed “Rock Of Gibraltar” and of course the Dionysian conclusion. But this one is enough. Nick smiles.
An article from the RS archive