UGLY ‘N’ WEIRD UPDATE

Last month, I mentioned I’d been working on a collaborative piece with Ben Kooyman about the Australian film Ghosts… of the Civil Dead. That piece is now up on Ben’s website, Down Under Flix, and I urge anyone reading this to check it out.

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PRAYERS ON FIRE (1981)

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Artist: The Birthday Party

Label: Missing Link
Producer: Tony Cohen, The Birthday Party
Cover art: Jenny, Poly & Evan
Length: 42:06

WEARING NOTHING BUT a loincloth, and with the word ‘HELL’ painted on his chest, a skinny geek twirls around a stripper pole in a circus tent before emerging into a burning Melbourne trash heap, where he cavorts with his bandmates, several psychiatric patients, and a goat. Those only familiar with Nick Cave as Australia’s answer to Leonard Cohen might be shocked to see this video for “Nick The Stripper”, which perfectly captures the carnivalesque hysteria of The Birthday Party’s Prayers on Fire.

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THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

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We went from a raw garage band through experimentalism back to raw blues almost. It was kind of like that, we just ended up doing raw, violent experimental music.

Mick Harvey, Stranded, 1996

Formed: 1978 (as The Boys Next Door), Melbourne, Australia

Featured album: Prayers on Fire (1981)

IF HELL WERE a circus, and that circus had a strip club, The Birthday Party would be its house band. One of the most blasphemous and licentious groups to emerge from the post-punk movement, their career was an all-too short and brutish plummet from grace, filled with drugs, debauchery and some of the most violently original music to come out of Australia both then or since.

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