Your Funeral My Trial by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Review
Your Funeral My Trial was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ third album and has been somewhat obscured by the fact that its release was sandwiched in between the Kicking Against the Pricks and Tender Prey. Kicking Against The Pricks offered the spectacle of Nick Cave tackling a cover album, which garnered some publicity. While Tender Prey included The Mercy Seat, which was to become Cave’s most famous song. Your Funeral My Trial was released only three months after Kicking Against the Pricks with no tour or promotion. The original release was on two 45s so it didn’t look like albums did in the 80’s.
If the title conveyed the continued theme of doom and death, the music within marked the continued growth of The Bad Seeds. Your Funeral My Trial saw the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds find their true sound and pointed the way of future releases. That the album sounds so good is remarkable because Nick Cave was in the grip of addiction and the band was in a state of upheaval with Barry Adamson leaving part way through the recording. Mick Harvey put in an inspired multi-instrumental performance to save the day.
Opening with the beautifully damaged love song, Sad Waters, it is clear that Your Funeral My Trial sounds very different from anything Cave had attempted before. The mood on this song was an early indication of the direction Cave would find throughout his career as a romantic balladeer.
Nothing ever sounded like the Carny, either before or since it’s release. The most famous song on Your Funeral My Trial is also it’s longest at over eight minutes. It tells the bizarre tail of a travelling carnival who have lost one of its members in a torrential downpour. Cave’s description of a horse caught in the mud is disturbing and sad while Mick Harvey’s organ whirls in an insane fashion towards the conclusion. Complex and dark, The Carny is ambitious but extremely successful and a song that only Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds could create.
The title track to Your Funeral My Trial is another winner. On first hearing it sounds leaden with its plodding bass line and stop-start delivery from Cave. On further listening, the song’s melody sinks in and opens up into another Bad Seeds classic. The swirling organ shares the same lines as the piano, giving effective backing to some of Cave’s most memorable lyrics.
Hard On For Love could be the title of a Motley Crue song but in Cave’s hands (pun intended) it turns into something more substantial, even if the subject matter is probably the same. Presumably the abrupt and somewhat premature ending is as intentional as some of the clumsy lyrics.
She Fell Away is probably the weakest song on the album but by no means a bad song. Sparse instrumentation give the impression of rising tension as Nick tells us the tale of a woman who “shed him like a skin”.
Stranger Than Kindness is one of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds best songs and it wasn’t even written by Nick Cave. The track’s music was composed by Blixa Bargeld who layered guitar upon guitar to create an atmospheric effect that sounded something like a swarm of bees rising and falling. This was augmented by some sparse organ effects and drumming from the excellent Mick Harvey. The mysterious lyrics that hint at trouble without ever revealing explicitly the source of the trouble were written by Nick Cave’s then girlfriend, Anita Lane, who also contributed lyrics to the Birthday Party’s Junkyard. This is a highlight on Your Funeral My Trial, and album that features only highlights.
Long Time Man is a cover version of the old Tim Rose song and must be a contender for the best cover Nick Cave ever did. Certainly better than anything on the Kicking Against The Pricks album, the song has a wasted yet driving quality and is a fine way to end Your Funeral My Trial.
The new remastered version of the album is a real improvement on the sound of the original CD transfer but I have one minor gripe in that the bonus track, Scum, is only included on the bonus DVD. So if you want to hear Nick vent his spleen at music journalists you have to shell out for the extra disc. A minor complaint though because Your Funeral My Trial is one of the best albums ever released and contains at least two tracks in the Carny and Stranger Than Kindness that are truly unique.
Rated Sound gives Your Funeral My Trial by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds a rating of 9/10.
Your Funeral My Trial (1986) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Track Listing
1. Sad Waters
2. The Carny
3. Your Funeral, My Trial
4. Stranger Than Kindness
5. Jack’s Shadow
6. Hard On For Love
7. She Fell Away
8. Long Time Man