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From Her To Eternity

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That Cave should open his new outfit’s first album with a cover of a Leonard Cohen song, the delusional visionary brooding of ‘Avalanche’, was a sign that he had moved in for good to what Cohen would later call ‘the tower of song’. Cohen’s original had appeared on Songs of Love and Hate, an album whose title sounds like a manifesto for Cave’s solo career.

The narrative art that Cave had begun to master in the later days of The Birthday Party flourishes on From Her To Eternity, in the sick humour of ‘Wings Off Flies’ (in which a lovesick protagonist plays ‘she loves me, she loves me not’ with an unfortunate insect), and ‘A Box For Black Paul’ (an examination of whose demise could possibly be interpreted as a funeral inquest for The Birthday Party), and the cautionary Mississippi tale of ‘Saint Huck’ who ‘trades in the mighty Old Man River/ For the Dirty Old Man Latrine’.

Blixa Bargeld (recruited from the Berlin experimentalists Einstürzende Neubauten, who were more associated with chains and pneumatic drills than conventional instruments) plays the guitar like someone who had never seen this strange six-string thing before. “I don’t really think he knows how to play in the conventional sense at all,” Cave enthused at the time, “he just makes these incredible sounds”. Mick Harvey’s unique abilities as an arranger sculpted the sound into something that was as expressive as it was violent.

Although From Her to Eternity was recorded in the UK at Trident, Berlin was part of its sonic makeup, not least in the contribution of native Berliner Blixa Bargeld, as was Southern Blues, although this influence is more explicit in the follow up album, The Firstborn Is Dead. And out of the ashes of the Birthday Party, some scratched old records by southern bluesmen, and the last days of the divided Berlin, something new was born.

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