S2E6 Murder Ballads

“When the storm clouds gather ’round you
And heavy rains descend
Just remember that death is not the end”

The month of October is upon us, and we get in to the spirit of the season with an album of dark, dreadful musings.

In 1996, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their ninth studio album, Murder Ballads.

Murder ballads are a subgenre of the ballad. Their subject matter focuses on crime and gruesome death. Nick Cave mines this fertile ground to produce an album that is both unsettling and darkly humorous. From the haunting opening of “Song of Joy” to the over the top bloodbath that is “O’Malley’s Bar,” this album deals in death.

Murder Ballads was the band’s most commercially successful album when it was released. We chose it for this week’s review because of it’s subject matter, which seemed like an appropriate way to start the Halloween season.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of murder ballads, Ron Soodalter wrote an excellent article for Historynet which you can find here.

I would be remiss if I ended this post without a shout out to “Stagger Lee.” This song has been recorded well over 400 times. Cave’s version contains perhaps the weirdest flex ever. We’ll let you be the judge.

One thought on “S2E6 Murder Ballads

  1. Sorry gotta point out, Murder Ballads album was put out in 1996 not 1998 which says in main writing post just above but you say the right year in your podcast, must be a typo but you might like to fix? worth to note: i got the album reissue on yellow/blue vinyl a couple years ago and the tracklisting is different! also did you know the mini-books 33 1/3 series are releasing a whole book on this album next month? Very cool podcast guys! Cheers 🙂


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