Hits Review

artist: birthday party date: 01/09/2008 category: compact discs
birthday party: Hits
Release Date: Oct 13, 1992
Label: 4AD
Genres: Post-Punk
Number Of Tracks: 20
As an album title, Hits is an intentionally ironic misnomer for one of Australia's most influential rock bands of the late '70s and early '80s.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9
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overall: 9.3
Hits Reviewed by: InLimbo11, on january 09, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Birthday Party's main album, Hits, is an intentionally ironic misnomer for one of the most influential bands of the late '70s and early '80s. It was Nick Caves first band before he moved on and formed The Bad Seeds. The sound created by the Birthday Party is unlike anything else up until this day. On Hits they fuse together the intensity and viscerity of punk and rock, with improvisational jazz, funk, and progressive, along with influences of psychedelia from the late '60s. It is almost a new genre in itself up until this day. The music is not conventional in itself, i.e. it does not follow any simple verse, chorus pattern, and instead the music progresses as the song carries on. On Hits, the songs and driven foward by hammering drums, and heavy baselines, with distorted, sometimes detuned guitars, and often organs and brass instruments, to create an intense, dark mesh of sound, that is entirely original. Songs that especially stand out are 'Sonny's Burning', a song driven along by the drums, organ and bassline, with Nick Cave manically shouting over crescending cymbals at the chorus. The second is 'Release the Bats' which has a bluesy almost funk driven baseline, and screeching staccatoed guitars. Overall it is an entirely original sound, backed up by the skill of the musicians. Live, they expressed the same intensity on the CD, that has yet to matched by any other artist. // 9

Lyrics: Nick Cave wrote and sung all the lyrics in Hits. While at this point he had not developed his singing skills much, how he sings in The Birthday Party is entirely unconventional. In many of the songs, growls, snarls, screams, and howls and a routine usage of his voice, and much rhythmical quality within the lyrics and song is abandoned. Many of the lyrics were improvised or built upon by Cave within the song itself. Subjects vary wildly, and often are about nothing at all. All the words, however add to the dark undertone of the music. Cave sings about societies dark side, with the subjects flitting from horror, violence, sex, politics, and sometimes all together. Often while the lyrics do not mean anything, the words used simply add substance to the music in themselves. One example as before mentioned is 'Release the Bats' where Cave simply shouts 'Vampire, Horror Bats, Sex' in random order. The lyrics and singing are one of the highlights of the CD, and the manic singing abandons all conformity and further adds to the intensity and viscerity of the music. // 10

Overall Impression: The Birthday Party, while never reaching any form of commercial success, (though they never tried to), still remain one of the most influential bands of he '70s and '80s. They were championed by many music critics, and what success they did have was largely due to John Peel, who brought much attention to the band. While the band will only appeal to a minority, I suggest that many listen, even just to hear what The Birthday Party managed to create. They were unmatched live at their time, and maybe even still now. They have also influenced the image and look of many bands currently. They were completely original compared to other bands at the time, and while there are criticisms of the record I could make, they are minor compared to the musical brilliance displayed on the record so many times. While heavy at times, there are slower (though just as dark) songs on the album that would influence Nick Cave's and other bands music later on. The Birthday Party truly represented Rock and Roll degredation and degeneration in the '70s and '80s and still do now. // 9

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