Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-Murder Ballads (Great Australian Albums 2) (2008)

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Released 16-Sep-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Interviews-Crew-Nick Cave, Martyn Casey and Mick Harvey
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 52:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Larry Meltzer

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jillian Burt
Martyn Casey
Nick Cave
Tony Cohen
Dave Graney
Mick Harvey
Rowland S. Howard
Kylie Minogue
Conway Savage
Bernard Zuel
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Nick Cave has been making great music since 1978 when, as a somewhat scrawny ex-private school boy he recorded Door,Door with The Boys Next Door ,which yielded the minor hit Shivers. After several hectic years with The Birthday Party he formed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds a studied, professional outfit compared to the ramshackle Birthday Party. For many years after he and the Bad Seeds made twisted, dark blues and rock culminating, for me anyway, in a series of classic albums in the early-90's : The Good Son, Henry's Dream and Let Love In. Each was equal parts fear and loathing with a few love songs thrown in for good measure.

This part of the Great Australian Albums series homes in on the 1995 album Murder Ballads. It was an important release for more than one reason. After the last thrash chords of Let Love In died out Cave emerged with piano, strings and a series of songs that never broke walking pace. For a Cave tragic like myself there were two shock/horrors to absorb - no thrash numbers and a duet with Kylie Minogue - say it ain't so!

As it turns out Cave was one step ahead, realising that he was getting older and needed to develop a new maturity in his work or risk becoming a joke.

Murder Ballads may not be the best Bad Seeds record but it did lead to one surreal moment - the band singing with Kylie on Top of the Pops!

As with the other episodes in this series we get a chance to hear from the key creative forces behind the album - Cave, multi-instrumentalist and legend Mick Harvey, bassist Martyn Casey (described by Cave as The Rock of Gibralter), piano player Conway Savage, Miss Minogue herself and a selection of other musos, music commentators and old friends. For Birthday Party fans it is great to hear from guitarist Roland S. Howard who popped in to do some backing vocals and other bits on the album.

Other episodes in this series have shown how hard it can be to make a record. This album, however, was described as a "party album" as Cave and the Band and a host of friends put it together in a seemingly stress free manner. Cave relates how the album began as something of a joke and was recorded in that spirit.

The duet with Kylie was a spur of the moment thing and Minogue relishes the delicious irony in the fact that Cave left a message with her mother and she, ringing back, left a message with Cave's mum - how very rock and roll! Friends rocked up to the recording session, forming the Moron Tabernacle Choir providing raucous backing for some songs.

Murder Ballads draws from many sources including American folk songs but it is hard to make any real connection between the 1927 recording of Stackalee and Cave's wild, vulgar and funny Stagger Lee, a staple of his live sets. In fact, listening again to the album it is hard not to see the funny side of some of the songs, particularly the mad polka of The Curse of Millhaven and the epic O'Malleys Bar. For my money, the best track on the album is the one where the fairer sex gets it's revenge - the duet with P.J. Harvey, Henry Lee, where the girl does the stickin'.

This is a great insight into the creative process of Cave and his band of unmerry men.

A must for fans of the band.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


 This episode of the Great Australian Albums series is transferred to DVD using the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

It comprises interview material and a number of video clips dating back to 1978. As well there are a number of excerpts from previous Cave concerts.

Unsuprisingly, the video quality varies according to the quality of the source. The interview footage is nice and clear and Cave's mighty moustache is front and centre!

The recent concert footage was filmed for DVD release and looks excellent whereas some of the older footage suffers from the usual suspects- digital noise, compression problems, aliasing,colour bleeding and visual artefacts. Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, I had a big hit of nostalgia when they played the live video for Deep in the Woods from The Birthday Party's Bad Seed EP.

There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sound for the show is Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 224 Kb/s.

I previously commented on the lack of a higher bitrate soundtrack for this show, relying as it does on recorded music. However, the show really is about the music and contains only brief snippets from a multitude of songs. In short, the lack of surround sound is not missed.

The monologues are all clear and easy to understand. There are no technical problems with the sound. Audio sync is perfect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The DVD case mentions no extras. In fact there are three extended interview sequences with Cave, Harvey and Casey. For fans this is almost as good as the documentary. It is a little raw though and from time to time the focus puller gets excited changing the shot and does so mid sentence.

Cave is notorious for his hatred of interviews and it is a joy to see him frank and open in his discussions about the band and their records. The extended interviews were the source for the snippets used in the documentary. Casey is a pretty shy fellow and the interview contains as many pauses as words but it is still worth a spin. Harvey is quiet, urbane and professional. Seated at the mixing desk he is a man in control.

A good watch

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD is all regions but it does not seem to be available in other Regions.


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an Australian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band despite the fact that just about all their material was recorded overseas.

This documentary is the only real chance fans have had to date to put one of their albums in persepective.

The sound and vision are adequate and the extra interview material is a real plus.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, November 17, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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