Seaforth, Ontario’s Boyd Devereaux played for 12 years in the NHL, but anyone who knows him knows his enthusiasms stretch beyond the game. Along with producing film and video in a variety of realms for Waking Sound Prod., he’s also run his own record label, Elevation Recording, and last year he participated alongside Woodstock’s Wayne Omaha at the annual Stompin’ Tom tribute (they played ‘Tilsonburg’). The band Black Mountain stayed with Boyd while he was playing for the local Coyotes, and he’s crossed paths with most Canadian independent artists of the last 20 years. It was a natural to have him contribute to this blog, and here he is, writing about the Australian musical giant, Nick Cave.
I came to discover Nick Cave’s music not through the Bad Seeds, but through Grinderman, who could be the coolest fucking band on the planet. I remember buying their “No Pussy Blues” 45 at Rotate This in Toronto. I had heard “No Pussy Blues” online, and although I had plans to buy the full length LP (which wasn’t released yet), when I saw the single on the shelf I felt compelled to pick it up. I don’t buy a lot of 45’s, but I’m so glad I did. It’s become one of my favourite records, 45 or otherwise.
“No Pussy Blues” is pure Nick Cave. The lyrics are dark and hilarious. The music – minimal, lean, and raw – perfectly represents what I think he was trying to do with Grinderman. Warren Ellis lays down the most searing, frenzied guitar. I love how the music seems to boil over in tandem with the frustration expressed in Cave’s lyrics. And those lyrics are delivered in the way only he can manage: the spits and coos and screams and yells. So awesome!
I smiled when I read Bob McKenzie’s post for this blog, where he recalled the experience of listening to a B side, which is a song you assume to be a bit of a throwaway, and realizing you like it better than the A side. This was my experience with this 45. The B side, “Chain of Flowers,” was a song I’d never heard. Since that first listen, it’s become one of my favourite sides of all-time. It’s a slow–dancing-in-the-kitchen type of song. The guitar riff and the vocal harmonies strike me every single time I listen to it. It’s a song I never tire of and I’m so happy to have it on 7-inch. There’s nothing to do when it ends but put the needle back to the beginning and listen again. Which, I think, is the beauty of (a great) 45.
I witnessed the live power of Grinderman at the 2011 “I’ll Be Your Mirror” festival in London. Cave prowled the stage, threw his guitar 12 feet in to the air, screamed into the faces of people in the front. He was just an animal up there! I had visions in my mind about what “No Pussy Blues” would be like live, and the reality blew me out of the water.
That “No Pussy Blues” 45 led me down into the Nick Cave rabbit hole, where I am constantly discovering something new in his body of work with the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds, eagerly anticipating his new music, reading his books, and watching his films. The man’s a legend.