Classic Albums: Henry’s Dream by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Well, a few days ago was Nick Cave birthday and he turned 59 years old. I’ve written one last post about him for this month about one of his old albums that’s got to be in my Classic Album list. Yet another post before the end of the month which counting this one today it’s add up to a dozen posts in just under four weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 all linked, if you wanna check what you have missed? Today is my fave album of his: Henry’s Dream.

Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry is the opening track on this Bad Seeds album from the year 1992 and what away to start an album too. Out of all the Cave albums including The Birthday Party/The Boys Next Door, Grinderman, the soundtracks and even the Bad Seeds albums that start with the single/video songs this just has to be the best opening song on any of his albums. That hammered acoustic guitar riff by Mick Harvey is just so great and Nick opening lines before the rest of the band comes crashing into the song is amazing but when they do it’s somehow keeps getting better and better, building and building the track which just keeps going and going. The lyrics are one of Cave’s best narrative story telling songs of all-time. It’s his very first song he wrote for his kids, how he wrote this track was sitting and singing his first born son Luke to sleep each night. Luke was going to be called Henry at first but the songwriter keep the name, his second son was also born and only a few days later to a difference mother and in a difference country, Jethro. Both Luke and Jethro born the year before this album in 1991, Jethro was a very big secret for a long time plus he was keeping from his first wife Viviane Carneiro but was one real reason of many of that break up and another big one was called Polly Jean Harvey.

Nick and his shadow in 92

This was the first album with new Bad Seeds members Martyn P. Casey and Conway Savage and the seventh Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds overall. Casey for the Perth indie rock band The Triffids has become the main bass player now over the years and since then only Mick Harvey playing on a few random songs, Aussie Brian Hooper playing on Murder Ballads’ Dylan cover and Barry Adamson playing on a couple from Push The Sky Away album. Savage joining as the piano and keys players which now over the last few albums has been Cave’s job and Conway only roped in for the touring the albums, you have to go back over ten years now to find a studio album with doing that job as a full-time member.

In 92 was a different time and story, on the previous album The Good Son was Cave’s first kind-of piano album but moving back as the front man for this album and sharing the job for most of the 90’s and early 2000’s with only Nick taking it back for the next real piano album The Boatman’s Call. Can I call Henry’s Dream this solid line-up some what debut album after something like 15 years as a band having changing members every couple years of all his bands this line-up don’t change until Blixa Bargeld leaves in 2003.

The band hated recording this album, they got set-up by the record label with Neil Young’s producer David Briggs and doing it in two sessions in California and New York, the only time Cave’s recorded an album in U.S.A. Briggs wouldn’t let anyone touch anything on the studio desk and all play backs was played at top volume ten so you couldn’t heard it or so the band says. Then after Briggs did his final mix of the album Cave and Harvey taken to Tony Cohen in Australia to re-mixed it, with only two tracks of Briggs mix remain in the end which are Christina The Astonishing and Brother, My Cup Is Empty. I totally love these two tracks after Straight To You which was the big single/video at the time with Anton Corbijn director clip which the band also totally hated too and even I will now say it’s mostly likely the worst video he’s ever done. That was the big ballad for the album and the only track for this album the make it on to The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds comp album. I Had a Dream, Joe video is edited and cut for live footage is much better promo clip.

Anton Corbijn also design the album cover with Nick Cave on the billboard with the sunset behind it, amazing artwork in itself. Brother, My Cup Is Empty is like one of the greatest drinking song of all-time. I just want to drink every time I hear it just for the fact it might be the last drink I ever have, not that I do. Christina The Astonishing is just to beautiful for me to even say. It remind me of my gf from 90’s, she was so astonishing too but her name wasn’t Christina. I guess the whole album does really, I remember teenage me dancing with her to this like it was only yesterday. Is yet another album included in the book of 1001 albums you must hear before you die, one of a four Cave albums also in it is the 1982’s Birthday Party’s Junkyard, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ The Boatman’s Call from 1997 and 2004’s Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus double album.

Loom Of The Land is yet another amazing and unbelievable song which I can’t even begin to talk about how and why, it’s just too great for my silly words really and most likely my fave track from the album. It’s does have a little bit lifted from the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov which just makes it even better. Before than is When I First Came To Town and John Finn’s Wife, the latter is like a prequel to his Murder Ballads album and the former is based on the old Traditional song Katie Cruel made famous by Karen Dalton. Then the epic closing song and it comes with a video clip Jack The Ripper and that’s the unedited video clip version.

Nick Cave wanted the sound of the album like the street musicians in Brazil he’d heard that played on old broken acoustic guitar but really violent and brutal, ad-libbing songs but insists they failed to get it right and even says he still hears Henry’s Dream done the right way in his head but everyone else has it this way and god know’s what he’s talking about because I don’t know how you could made it any better. There is an acoustic version of Jack The Ripper with only Harvey’s guitar and The Bad Seeds doing some crazy percussion but maybe that’s not right too because that’s only released as a bonus track on the reissue. Should he have just hired all those same street musos, a translator and recorded in Brazil again but anyway all that’s to late now. It’s a prefect album for me and the ultimate Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album and very few albums come even close to it even now to this day.

 Henry’s Dream track listing and times:

1. Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry – 5:54
2. I Had a Dream, Joe – 3:43
3. Straight To You – 4:35
4. Brother, My Cup Is Empty – 3:02
5. Christina The Astonishing – 4:51
6. When I First Came To Town – 5:22
7. John Finn’s Wife – 5:13
8. Loom of the Land – 5:08
9. Jack The Ripper – 3:45


So what does everyone else think about this album? Henry’s Dream!


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