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The Boatman's Call
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Performer Notes
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Nick Cave (vocals, piano, Hammond organ, keyboards, vibraphone); Mick Harvey (acoustic & electric guitars, Hammond organ, vibraphone); Blixa Bargeld (guitar); Warren Ellis (violin, accordion, piano); Jim Scalvunos (melodica, drums, percussion); Conway Savage (piano, keyboards); Martyn P. Casey (bass); Thomas Wydler (drums, maracas).
  • Producers: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Flood.
  • Recorded at Abbey Road and Sarm West, London, England.
  • Following up the almost pornographically violent MURDER BALLADS, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds switch gears and come up with an album of...you guessed it, love songs. Though known to many as the Stephen King of rock and roll, Cave has a way with lush, heartfelt ballads, and on THE BOATMAN'S CALL he gets to flex his romantic muscles. Still, with Australia's maven of morbidity at the reigns, you can bet you're not exactly venturing into Elton John territory here.
  • Cave's romanticism tends more toward Jacques Brel than Air Supply. THE BOATMAN'S CALL is full of sparsely-arranged, piano-based ruminations on love gone up in flames. In "Brompton Oratory" Cave observes that "No God up in the sky/No devil beneath the sea/Could do the job that you did/Of bringing me to my knees." Even in the midst of an idyllic situation, as in "People Ain't No Good," Cave can't help but bring his misanthropic tendencies to the fore. The Bad Seeds take a more subdued role this time around, providing subtle accompaniment to Cave's Dating Game From Hell.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (p.92) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Over spare piano, he croons of love and pain, brooding over an old flame in 'West Country Girl.'"

Entertainment Weekly (3/14/97, p.80) - "With this set of sparse piano-based crooners, Cave has created, wittingly or not, a kindler, gentler companion to last year's gloomy, dyspeptic, brilliant MURDER BALLADS..." - Rating: B+

Q (12/99, p.92) - Included in Q Magazine's "90 Best Albums Of The 1990s."

Q (1/98, p.111) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1997."

Q (p.44) - "Safe to say nobody writes an aching love ballad quite like the cadaverous Australian."

Uncut (3/03, p.96) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...A tortured break-up album to rival Dylan's BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, and every bit as affecting..."

Option (5-6/97, p.96) - "...a quiet, piano-laden disc filled with ballads, and dirges, where Cave's voice throughout is stately and measured, never aggressive....a somberly mature record..."

Melody Maker (12/20-27/97, pp.66-67) - Ranked #26 on Melody Maker's list of 1997's "Albums Of The Year."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.64) - Ranked #11 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "[A] ballad-based beauty..."

Mojo (Publisher) (5/01, p.46) - "Muted, often desperately unoptimistic collection about Cave's recent relationships..."

NME (Magazine) (12/20-27/97, pp.78-79) - Ranked #23 in NME's 1997 Critics' Poll.

Record Collector (magazine) (p.83) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he album saw The Bad Seeds bring their most masterful, hushed performances to bear on Cave's most sparse, naked, heart-rending lyrics..."
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