Santi Holley takes each song from Nick Cave's infamous Murder Ballads album and delivers fantastic rabbit-hole histories of their lineage, characters, and mysteries. I don't think I've seen another book in the 33 1/3 series get so dang detailed and curious. Though sometimes the book feels less about Nick and his band and more about the history of murder ballads, it gave me a deeper understanding of an album I only recently listened to. Citing everything from The Penguin Book of
Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World to Greil Marcus to true crime to American Psycho, Holley has dug deep and made what was a dark, violent album even more disturbing. Recommended By Kevin S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In a bar called The Bucket of Blood, a man shoots the bartender four times in the head. In the small town of Millhaven, a teenage girl secretly and gleefully murders her neighbors. A serial killer travels from home to home, quoting John Milton's Paradise Lost in his victims' blood.
Murder Ballads, the ninth studio album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, is a gruesome, blood-splattered reimagining of traditional ballads, American folk music, and classic literature. Most of the stories told on Murder Ballads have been interpreted many times, but never before had they been so graphic or profane. Though earning the band their first Parental Advisory warning label, Murder Ballads, released in 1996, brought Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds their biggest critical and commercial success, thanks in part to the award-winning single, "Where the Wild Roses Grow," an unlikely duet with Australian pop singer, Kylie Minogue.
Closely examining each of the ten songs on the album, Santi Elijah Holley investigates the stories behind the songs, and the numerous ways these ballads have been interpreted through the years. Murder Ballads is a tour through the evolution of traditional folk music, and a journey into the dark secrets of American history.