The Ties That Bind

The Birthday Party

Australia’s The Birthday Party, challenging and dark and though championed by influential BBC dj John Peel never achieved much commercial success but

“though often indirect, their influence has been far-reaching.”

Despite that limited success the group’s “creative core”; singer/songwriter Nick Cave, multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey and singer/songwriter/guitarist Rowland S. Howard have gone on to acclaimed careers.

The nucleus of the group formed at the private boys school Caulfield Grammar School in suburban Melbourne in 1973 with Nick Cave on vocals, Mick Harvey on guitar, and Phill Calvert on drums and with other students filling in on guitar, bass and saxophone.

Following graduation in 1975 the group added bassist Tracy Pew. Greatly influenced by 1976’s punk music explosion; and with Australian groups like The Saints and Radio Birdman recording and touring

The Boys Next Door , as they were now called, began performing fast original New Wave material in 1977.”

Guitarist Rowland S. Howard joined in 1978 and with his addition the bands sound began to change dramatically. Drawing on punk, rockabilly, free jazz and the rawest blues their sound resisted precise categorization; though often the instrumentalists sounded as if they were on the verge of collapse which only further served to emphasis the “mania of Cave’s singing, and his expressionist lyrics.”

“Critics have written that “neither John Cale nor Alfred Hitchcock was ever this scary.”, and that Cave “doesn’t so much sing his vocals as expel them from his gut.”

By the time the group left Melbourne for London in 1980 they had played hundreds of shows, released several Australian-only records; “the surprisingly normal-sounding aggressive rock” Door Door and the five-song Hee Haw, and achieved a modicum of success.

Arriving in London the group changed their name to The Birthday Party and recorded and released their first international LP, Prays on Fire

“a raging beast filled with agonized howling, braying Cave vocals flung against a backdrop of violently attacked guitars and no-wave horn noise.”

The group followed up Prays on Fire with the four song live Drunk on the Pope’s Blood in 1982 which includes a side of live Lydia Lunch.

“The disc is honestly described on the jacket as “16 minutes of sheer hell!”

The full length Junkyard and three EPs, The Bad Seed, The Birthday Party EP, and Mutiny! came out in 1983, the year prior to the band breaking up; due in part to drug related exhaustion and a split between Cave and Howard.

Because of their legendary status, and the continued success of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the group’s back catalogue has been re-released on cd several times. Releases in recent years of rare or previously unreleased material has been overseen by Mick Harvey.

Like the Phoenix several new groups arose from the ashes of The Birthday Party; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (featuring Cave, Harvey,Barry Adamson (ex-Magazine) and Blixa Bargeld (ex- Einstürzende Neubauten)), Crime and the City Solution (featuring Harvey and Howard, later just Harvey) and These Immortal Souls (featuring Howard).

The art-punk group Crime and the City Solution was formed by Australian singer/song writer Simon Bonney. The group had four distinct line-ups, with Bonney being the only constant; Sydney 1977-78, Melbourne 1979, and two groupings for Berlin from 1985-1990.

Sydney 1977-1978

Simon Bonney – vocals
Don McLennan – drums
Harry Zanteni – guitar
Phil Kitchener – bass
Dave MacKinnon – soprano & tenor saxophone

Melbourne 1979

Simon Bonney – vocals
Don McLennan – drums
Dan Wallace-Crabbe – guitar
Lindsay O’Meara – bass
Chris Astley – keyboards
Kim Beissel – alto saxophone

Berlin/London 1985-1986

Simon Bonney – vocals
Mick Harvey – guitar
Rowland S. Howard – guitar
Harry Howard – bass
Epic Soundtracks – drums

Berlin 1987-1990

Simon Bonney – vocals
Mick Harvey – drums
Bronwyn Adams – violin
Chrislo Haas – synthesizer
Alex Hacke – guitar
Thomas Stern – bass

Over the course of their existence the group released four studio albums and a number of EPs and a live album was released following their break up.

“Crime were famed for their live performances, where Bonney’s delicate physical appearance contrasted sharply with his deep, dark voice.”

Following the break-up of Crime and The City Solution and tiring of Europe Bonney moved to Los Angles. While still with Crime he had begun to tire of the band’s

“own gloomy brand of experimental art-infused dirge”

and had begun taking a growing interest in American country-western of the late ’60s and early ’70s. When Rowland S. Howard left the group in 1987 Crime began some very slight leanings in that direction as evidenced on both the Shine and Paradise Discotheque albums.

On Bonney’s first solo record, 1992’s Forever, he’s joined by former Dwight Yoakam guitarist J.D. Foster, True Believer Jon Dee Graham (lap steel, Dobro) and ex-Crime violinist Bronwyn Adams. The album is

“languid and calculated to the last note and final sentiment; it could serve equally well in a Wim Wenders film or a seedy Texas bar.”

These Immortal Souls, formed in 1987, with three ex-members of Crime And The City Solution, Rowland S. Howard (guitar and vocals, Harry Howard (bass) and Epic Soundtracks (drums) and keyboardist Genevieve McGuckin. Bluesy and darkly atmospheric the group was a showcase for Howard’s song writing chops. Their debut EP 1987’s Marry Me was released in the UK by Mute Records and in the US by the seminal American indie label SST. That same year saw Mute/SST release the group’s debut LP Get Lost (Don’t Lie). In support of both the EP and Album the group toured Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, France, Scandinavia, UK), and followed that with a 35 date tour of America.

The group would fall silent for several years following their tour, in part because Howard developed a crippling case of writer’s block.

1992 saw the group break their silence with the release of the single “King Of Kalifornia” and the full length I’m Never Gonna Die Again. They then toured again with drummer Chris Hughes.

Rowland, Harry and Genevieve returned to Australia in 1995 where they played a few more shows with a different drummer (Paul Godfrey a.k.a. Epic Soundtracks had by then released three solo records. Sadly he would be found dead in his London apartment on November 5, 1997)

With Lydia Lunch in support the band’s final show was at the Greyhound Hotel, St. Kilda, on July 23rd 1998.


The Birthday Party

Singles, EPs & Full-Length

God Gave Them Sex Appeal (Cass) Not On Label 1980
The Birthday Party (LP) (Missing Link) 1980
“The Friend Catcher” (7″, Single) (4AD) 1981
“Mr. Clarinet” (7″) (4AD) 1981
“Nick The Stripper” (12″) (Missing Link) 1981
“Nick The Stripper” / “Blundertown” (7″, Single) (Propeller, Festival Records) 1981
Prayers On Fire (LP) (4AD, Propeller) 1981
“Release The Bats” (7″, Single) (4AD) 1981
“Dead Joe” (Flexi, 7″, S/Sided) (Masterbag) 1982
“Drunk On The Pope’s Blood” / “The Agony Is The Ecstacy” (12″, EP) (4AD) 1982
Junkyard (LP, Cass) (4AD, Propeller, Shock) 1982
“Nick The Stripper” (7″) (Missing Link) 1982
The Front Row Is Not For The Fragile (Vinyl) (Tuff Monk Records) 1982
Funhouse (w/Lydia Lunch) (LP) (A Lad Insane) 1982
Mutiny! (12″) (Disques Vogue, Mute Records Ltd.) 1983
Pleasure Heads Must Burn (VHS) (Ikon) 1983
Release The Bats EP (12″, Promo) (4AD) 1983
The Bad Seed (12″, EP) (4AD, Powderworks) 1983
The Birthday Party (12″) (4AD) 1983
A Collection … (LP) (Missing Link, Suite Beat) 1985
It’s Still Living (LP) (Missing Link, Suite Beat) 1985
A Collection … (CD) (Missing Link, Suite Beat) 1987
The Peel Sessions (12″) (Strange Fruit) 1987
Junkyard (CD, Album) (4AD, Missing Link) 1988
Prayers On Fire (CD, Album) (4AD, Missing Link, Shock) 1988
The Peel Sessions (12″, CD, EP) (Strange Fruit) 1988
Hee-Haw (CD, Album) (4AD, Thirsty Ear) 1989
Mutiny / The Bad Seed (CD, Album) (4AD, Shock) 1989
The Peel Sessions II (CD, Maxi) (Castle Communications) 1989
Prayers On Fire (CD, Album) (Virgin Records Australia) 1990
It’s Still Living (CD, LP, Cass) (Virgin Records Australia) 1991
Junkyard (CD, Album) (Virgin Records Australia) 1991
Hee-Haw (CD) (Missing Link) 1992
Hits (2xLP, CD, Cass) (4AD, Warner Bros Records) 1992
Hits (CD, RE) (4AD) 1998
Prayers On Fire (CD, Album, RE) (4AD) 1998
Live 81-82 (CD, Album) (4AD) 1999
Hee-Haw (CD) (Buddha Records) 2000
Junkyard (CD) (Buddha Records) 2000
Mutiny / The Bad Seed (CD) (Buddha Records) 2000
Prayers On Fire (CD) (Buddha Records) 2000
The John Peel Sessions (CD, Album) (Strange Fruit) 2001
Pleasure Heads Must Burn (DVD) (Cherry Red) 2003

Tracks Appear On:

“Mr. Clarinet” Natures Mortes – Still Lives (LP) (4AD) 1981
“The Hairshirt” An Hour Of Eloquent Sounds (Cass) (Pleasantly Surprised) 1982
“Nick the Stripper” Doobie Do Disc (LP) (Propeller, Festival Records) 1982
“Mr. Clarinet” Natures Mortes – Still Lives (LP) (Warner-Pioneer Corporation) 1982
“The Hairshirt” Document: Pleasantly Surprised (82 – 85) (Cass) (Pleasantly Surprised) 1985
“Release The Bats” Mixed Peel (Cass) (New Musical Express) 1987
“Big Jesus Trash Can” The Peel Sessions – The Sampler (LP) (Strange Fruit) 1988
“Big Jesus Trash Can” Winters Of Discontent – The Peel Sessions 77-83 (CD) (Strange Fruit) 1991
“Nick The Stripper” Lilliput (2xCD, Promo) (4AD) 1992
“Mutiny In Heaven” Nervous Systems (LP, CD) (Mute Records, Indisc) 1992
“Big Jesus Trash Can” Radio Daze – The John Peel Sessions (Cass) (Vox Magazine) 1992
“Release The Bats” The Indie Scene 81 (CD) (Connoisseur Collection) 1992
“Sonny’s Burning” The Indie Scene 83 (CD) (Connoisseur Collection) 1992
“The Fullness Of His Coming” Dirty Pearl (CD, Album, Digipak) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1993
“Big Jesus Trash Can” In Session Tonight (CD, Ltd.) (Strange Fruit) 1993
“Mr. Clarinet” Natures Mortes – Still Lives (CD, Album) (4AD) 1997
“Attitude Or Message?” Post Punk Diary 1980 – 1982 (CD) (Cherry Red) 1997
“Big Jesus Trash Can” 4AD (Uncut) (CD, Sampler, Promo Album (4AD, Uncut Magazine) 1998
“Nick The Stripper” Kiddy’s Got Four Fingers (CD) (4AD) 1998
“Release The Bats” Nocturnal (2xCD, Album) (Procreate) 1998
“Nick The Stripper” Rage – The Songs Most Chosen By Rage Guest Programmers (2xCD) (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Music)) 1998
“A Dead Song” Breakdown (CD) (4AD) 1999
“Hamlet (Pow Pow Pow)” Hamlet: Music From The Miramax Motion Picture (CD) (Rykodisc) 2000
“Mr. Clarinet” Rough Trade Shops – 25 Years (4xCD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 2001
“Sonny’s Burning” Hometaping Vol. 2 (CD) (Kerrang! Magazine) 2002
“Big Jesus Trash Can” Rough Trade Shops – Rock And Roll 1 (2xCD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 2002
“Happy Birthday” Tales From The Australian Underground – Singles 1976-1989 (2xCD) (Feel Presents, Festival Mushroom Records) 2003
“Ho Ho” Gegen Die Wand – OST(CD, Comp) (Normal) 2004
“Fears Of Gun” 1980 Forward (CD, Album) (4AD) 2005
“Mutiny In Heaven” A Life Less Lived – The Gothic Box (3xCD + DVD) Rhino Entertainment Company 2006
“Blast Off” Tales From The Australian Underground – Vol. 2: 1977-1990 (2xCD) (Feel Presents) 2006
“Release The Bats” The Trip – Curated By Jarvis Cocker & Steve Mackey (2xCD) (Family Recordings (UK)) 2006
“Jennifer’s Veil”, “Mutiny In Heaven”, “Swampland”, “Say A Spell” Mute Audio Documents «1978 – 1984» (10xCD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 2007

Crime and The City Solution

Singles, EPs & Full-Length

Just South Of Heaven (Vinyl, LP) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1985
The Dangling Man E.P. (Vinyl, 12″, EP, 45) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1985
The Kentucky Click / Adventure (Vinyl, 12″) (Intercord Tonträger GmbH) 1986
Room of Lights (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1986
On Every Train (Grain Will Bear Grain) (Vinyl, 12″) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1988
Shine (LP, CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1988
The Bride Ship (LP, Album) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1989
Paradise Discotheque (LP, CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1990
I Have the Gun (Mute Records Ltd.) (CD Single) 1990
Adversary: Live (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1996
Dolphins & The Sharks (CD Single) (Mute Records Ltd.) 2003
Shadow of No Man (CD Single) (Mute Records Ltd.) 2003

Tracks Appear On:

“The Greater Head” Provoke N° 3 (Cass, Sampler) (IMC) 1988
“Six Bells Chime” Les Ailes Du Désir (CD) (Milan Records) 1988
“The Last Dictator I” Red Tape (Cass, Comp, Album) (Select Magazine) 1990
“I Have The Gun (Woody Guthrie Mix)” International Compilation Mute (LP) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1991
“Dolphins & Sharks” Tonal Evidence (USA) (CD, Comp) (Elektra) 1991
“The Adversary” Until The End Of The World (OST)(CD) (Warner Bros. Records) 1991
“Sun Before The Dawn” (Instrumental) Gas Food Lodging (CD) (Elektra) 1992
“Free World” Nervous Systems (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1992
“All Must Be Love” Tonal Evidence 7 (CD, Comp) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1993
“Six Bells Chime” Wings Of Desire (CD) (The Fine Line) 1998


Simon Bonney

Singles & Full-Length

Forever (CD, Album) (Mute Records Ltd., Elektra) 1992
There Can Only Be One (CD Single) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1992
Don’t Walk Away From Love (CD, Maxi) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1996
Everyman (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1996

Tracks Appear On:

“There Can Only Be One” (Alternative Mix) The Sound Of Mute (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1992
“Caesar Needs Brutus” Tonal Evidence 5 (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1992
“Travellin’ On” Faraway, So Close! (OST) (Vinyl, LP) (EMI Electrola) 1993
“There Can Only Be One” Mute Sampler (CD, Comp) (Indisc) 1994
“Where Trouble Is Easier To Find” Rock Furore CD9 (CD) (Rock Furore Magazine) 1994
“Don’t Walk Away From Love” Mute Bank Compilation (2 x CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1995
“Don’t Walk Away From Love” Chain With No Name RTM Sample Issue #2 (CD) (Not On Label) 1996


These Immortal Souls

Singles & Full-Length

Marry Me (Lie! Lie!) (12″ Single) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1987
Get Lost (Don’t Lie!) (LP, CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1987
King Of Kalifornia (CD, 12″) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1992
I’m Never Gonna Die Again (CD, 12″) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1992

Tracks Appear On:

“Luney Tune” Sub Pop Alice Cooper Tribute (2×7″) (Sub Pop) 1991
“Hyperspace” Tonal Evidence 7 (CD) (Mute Records Ltd.) 1993
“You Can’t Unring a Bell” Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits (LP, CD) (Manifesto/Caroline) 1995


Crime and The City Solution – Paradise Discotheque

Playing Time: 38 minutes 36 seconds

Crime and The City Solution - Paradise Discotheque

1. I Have The Gun (3:33)
2. The Sly Persuaders (4:11)
3. The Dolphins And The Sharks (4:44)
4. The Sun Before The Darkness (5:17)
5. Motherless Child (3:49)
6. The Last Dictator I (4:40)
7. The Last Dictator II (5:01)
8. The Last Dictator III (4:48)
9. The Last Dictator IV (2:33)

Buy Paradise Discotheque


The Birthday Party – Hits

Playing Time: 1 hour 15 minutes 40 seconds

The Birthday Party - Hits

1. The Friend Catcher (4:20)
2. Happy Birthday (3:59)
3. Mr. Clarinet (3:42)
4. Nick the Stripper (3:50)
5. Zoo Music Girl (2:36)
6. King Ink (4:40)
7. Release the Bats (2:30)
8. Blast Off (2:18)
9. She’s Hit (6:06)
10. Hamlet (Pow. Pow. Pow) (5:33)
11. Dead Joe (3:09)
12. Junkyard (5:48)
13. Big-Jesus-Trash-Can (3:00)
14. Wild World (3:25)
15. Sonny’s Burning (3:17)
16. Deep in the Woods (4:46)
17. Swampland (3:29)
18. Jennifer’s Veil (4:56)
19. Mutiny in Heaven (4:16)

Hits [Part 1] [Part 2 ]

Buy Hits from

Simon Bonney – Forever

Playing Time: 44 minutes 15 seconds

Simon Bonney - Forever

1. Ravenswood (4:55)
2. Forever (4:55)
3. A Part of You (3:58)
4. Like Caeser Needs a Brutus (4:15)
5. Saw You Falling (3:56)
6. Someone Loves You (5:33)
7. There Can Only Be One (4:23)
8. Now That She’s Gone (4:59)
9. The Son Don’t Shine (4:47)
10. Ravenswood (reprise) (2:34)

BuyForever from

These Immortal Souls – I’m Never Gonna Die Again

Playing Time: 53 minutes 51 seconds

These Immortal Souls - I'm Never Gonna Die Again

1. The King of Kalifornia (3:53)
2. Shamed (4:55)
3. Black Milk (5:23)
4. Hyperspace (5:31)
5. So The Story Goes (4:28)
6. Insomnicide (2:31)
7. All the Money’s Gone (5:05)
8. Crowned (9:25)
9. Bad (2:56)
10. My One-Eyed Daughter (Live In Las Vegas) (4:59)
11. Up On The Roof (4:45)

Buy I’m Never Gonna Die Again

One response to “The Ties That Bind

  1. I tell ya’ from my perspective Mr. Cave has had a phenomenal run. When you contrast a similarly aged performer who is still going, Mr. Mark E. Smith, you soon realize how well in both health and creativity Nick is in. Listening to the insanely clever turns of phrase of his lyrics on both his latest release, Dig Lazarus Dig!!, and the album Grinderman and then listening to the alcohol damaged renditions of late from the Fall surely cuts to the core of it. I’m so afraid of what could go wrong next with my beloved Fall… But in the meantime I will just enjoy my old Birthday Party rekkids and modern Mr Cave tracks.

    ‘Go tell the ladies we’re leaving…’ hah

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