LIVE 1981-82

The essence of The Birthday Party was always frustration. Ian Johnstons biography of Nick Cave, "Bad Seed", describes the band's odyssey of drugs and scandalous gigs around England at the time of these recordings. The supposedly vivid London scene had prompted their move from Australia, but once in London they were disgusted with what they heard. Also, money was low and the personal problems within the group - including severe drug abuse - abounded.
As with all decent self destructive rock bands, this frustration seems to have made for brilliant stage performances. Even on this record, the sheer intensity of the playing hits you in the face. The people hammering out these songs aren't trying to rock and roll. Rather, they appear to be playing as exorcism, with their own souls at stake if they fail.
Later, Nick Cave would gradually start exploring the blues and other more traditional musical styles, with the intensity of The Birthday Party still firmly embedded in the core of the song. For better or worse, that fury is unpolluted here in this early stage. "Release the Bats" sounds just like that: a swarm of angry and dangerous small creatures bursting out of the speakers. On the other hand the band handles eerily beautiful "She's Hit" just as well. Here we hear Tracey Pew, now deceased, delicately twanging the strings of the bass like some very poor lonesome cowboy.
The Birthday Party, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division and a couple of hundreds of others are bands that make you curse yourself for not being 18 years old and living in London in the early eighties. This is your chance to live out that fantasy in your living room.
Think Thatcherism, bad hairdos and getting knocked in the head with a mike stand. Gulp down a mouthful of stale beer, put the record on and you're almost there.