In 1981, at a garbage dump on the outskirts of Melbourne, a band is making a video. The idea is to recreate a vision of hell. A cartoon death’s head with six limbs flashes on the screen. We see a young and scrawny Nick Cave – “a fat little insect” – pole-dancing in the middle of a circus tent. The song is an ode to self-loathing called Nick The Stripper.
Behind him, the Birthday Party swings and stumbles. After a year in London, the band once dubbed the Boys Next Door have returned to their home town a very different and much more menacing beast, ready to cut their first full album, Prayers On Fire. The tune, if you can call it that, hangs on a ghostly three-note refrain by the guitarist Rowland S Howard.
The action moves outside the tent. Along with friends, the band has bussed in residents of a mental health facility; one of them stands atop a gallows. Cave is wearing a loincloth. There’s a disturbing scene involving a goat.
A new documentary on the band, Mutiny In Heaven, lingers over this grotesque carnival of souls for the clip’s full four minutes. The film’s director, Ian White, says it would have been a shame not to use it in its entirety.… Read more..