Mutiny!/The Bad Seed by The Birthday Party Review
Mutiny! and The Bad Seed are the final studio recordings from Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party. Originally released as two separate EP’s, they were later combined and released as a single CD. The recordings marked the end of one era and signalled the start of another. Mick Harvey was now Nick Cave’s prime collaborator on the songs, with Rowland S. Howard sidelined. Marking the path of the Bad Seeds for the next twenty years. In spite of this, Howard produced some of his best guitar work on these songs. However, in another significant move, recording for the Mutiny! sessions were completed without Howard’s knowledge and long-time Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld played guitar on Mutiny in Heaven.
For a band that was about to implode, Mutiny!/The Bad Seed served up The Birthday Party’s best and most concise work. The Bad Seed EP, whose biblical name was probably taken from the William March novel of the same name kicks off with Sonny’s Burning. Nick Cave’s deliberately provocative cry of “Hands up who wants to die” precedes Mick Harvey’s furious yet precise drums and Rowland S. Howards appropriately burning guitar. “Flame on!” screeches Nick on this spiky feedback drenched demonic opener.
Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party incarnation still sounded like Iggy Pop on Mutiny!/The Bad Seed and this is demonstrated on Wildworld. This sounds like Dirt from the Stooges Fun House album with Tracy Pew’s deep bass rolling the song along. While Fears of Gun offers a psychologically terrifying rocker that builds into a stuttering metallic showdown on Rowland S. Howard’s guitar.
Deep in the Woods gives a nod to Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album with its tale of a murderous love affair with it’s inevitable conclusion. In the midst of all this demonic evil, Nick Cave gives us a taste of his dark sense of humour. “Tonight we sleep in separate ditches”, he quips on this track.
Jennifer’s Vale is the first song from he Mutiny! Part of Mutiny!/The Bad Seed. This dirge of a gothic classic is delivered with gusto and Howard’s guitar sounds great once again. Swampland gives a glimpse into Nick Cave’s 1989 novel And the Ass Saw the Angel. This filthy Southern Gothic tale of desperation signposts where Cave was going with his career and whilst unmistakably a Birthday Party song, could easily fit into the Bad Seeds’ repertoire.
The two bonus tracks from the CD issue of Mutiny!/The Bad Seed are Six Strings that Drew Blood. While both sound somewhat unfinished, Six Strings that Drew Blood sounds much better here than the Bad Seeds version, now included on the reissue of The Firstborn is Dead album.
Rowland S. Howard’s bluesy Say a Spell was his last hurrah on the songwriting front for the Bad Seeds. A shame that his differences with Cave couldn’t be put to one side because this gives a glimpse at Howard’s talent which was often underrated.
Mutiny!/The Bad Seed and, indeed, The Birthday Party comes to a shattering conclusion with Mutiny in Heaven. Nick Cave’s lyrics depicting a terrifying, filthy yet somehow hilarious vision of heaven and hell. “If this is heaven I’m bailing out” declares Cave amongst the densely packed lyrics.
Mutiny!/The Bad Seed is a fine way for The Birthday Party to bow out. As with most bands’ final release there is always a sense of wondering what might have been had the band carried on, especially when the last recordings are this good. Nick Cave was to carry on with Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld to form the Bad Seeds and release From Her to Eternity a year later.
Rated Sound gives Mutiny!/The Bad Seed by The Birthday Party 8/10.
Mutiny!/The Bad Seed (1983) by The Birthday Party Track Listing
1. Sonny’s Burning
3. Fears of Gun
4. Deep in the Woods
5. Jennifers Veil
6. Six Strings That Drew Blood
7. Say a Spell
9. Pleasure Avalanche
10. Mutiny in Heaven