Well, in our trip down Nick Cave’s career, we come to the last album of The Birthday Party, Junkyard. Like so often with great bands, this last album is when they really gel. Of course, in their case, that means they go totally crazy. It is amazing to listen to. Yesterday, I said that Prayers on Fire was post-punk. This album is… who knows?! Some of it sounds like free jazz. And then it’s straight rhythm and blues. And sometimes psychedelic — but taken by goths. Today we listen to “Big Jesus Trash Can.”
It’s a very consistent album. It has an emotional core of wry despondency. My favorite track is the most straightforward one, “Several Sins.” But it is by Rowland S Howard (maybe I’ll do a week of him sometime). “Big Jesus Trash Can” is a masterpiece of noise as music. I never much cared for noise bands, but that’s because they rarely managed to turn it into music. Here The Birthday Party does.
In “Big Jesus Trash Can,” it is hard to say what Cave is on about. There are various ways of interpreting it. It is hard for me not to see it in the context of the modern American Christian conception of Jesus as this Rambo sort of character. Certainly there seems to be some kind of statement about America being so Christian and yet so militaristic. But the main thing is the sound: