The Firstborn Is Dead

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The Firstborn Is Dead
Studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Released June 3, 1985
Recorded November - December 1984
Genre Post-punk, blues rock
Length 50:28
Label Mute Records
Producer Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Flood
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds chronology
From Her to Eternity
(1984)
The Firstborn Is Dead
(1985)
Kicking Against the Pricks
(1986)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (7.0/10)[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[3]

The Firstborn Is Dead is the second studio album released by the post-punk band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It was first released in 1985. On this record, singer Nick Cave continued his fascination with the American South, with its references to Elvis Presley and bluesmen like Blind Lemon Jefferson. The photography is by Jutta Heinglein.

The album's name is a reference to Jesse Garon Presley, the stillborn identical twin of Elvis Presley.

The album was remastered and reissued on April 27, 2009 as a collector's edition CD/DVD set. The CD features the original 7-song vinyl LP's track listing, while "The Six Strings That Drew Blood" is featured as a bonus audio track on the accompanying DVD.

The Album was recorded in the Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany. Cave later said of this album, "Berlin gave us the freedom and encouragement to do whatever we wanted. We'd lived in London for three years and it seemed that if you stuck your head out of the box, people were pretty quick to knock it back in. Particularly if you were Australian. When we came to Berlin it was the opposite. People saw us as some kind of force rather than a kind of whacky novelty act."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics by Nick Cave

  1. "Tupelo" – 7:17 (Adamson, Harvey)
  2. "Say Goodbye to the Little Girl Tree" – 5:10 (Harvey)
  3. "Train Long-Suffering" – 3:49 (Cave)
  4. "Black Crow King" – 5:05 (Bargeld, Cave)
  5. "Knockin' on Joe" – 7:38 (Cave)
  6. "Wanted Man" – 5:27 (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash)
  7. "Blind Lemon Jefferson" – 6:10 (Adamson, Bargeld, Harvey, Cave)
  8. "The Six Strings That Drew Blood" – 4:50 (CD only) (Cave, Rowland S. Howard)
  9. "Tupelo" (single version) – 5:01 (CD only)

Songs[edit]

  • "Tupelo" is loosely based on the John Lee Hooker song of the same title, which is about a flood in Tupelo, Mississippi (Hooker's song appears on Original Seeds). Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Cave's song incorporates imagery of the birth of Elvis and the apocalypse at the second coming of Christ. However, the "Looky, Looky Yonder" motif that features in the song is derived from a song of the same name recorded by Lead Belly, usually found as part of a medley which Cave himself covered under the title "Black Betty" on his third album, Kicking Against the Pricks.
  • "Wanted Man" evolved from a song composed by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Cave was granted permission to alter the lyrics. Cave's lyrics include references to his friends, such as photographer Polly Borland.
  • "The Six Strings that Drew Blood" is included on the CD version of the album, but not on the LP. It was the B-side of the "Tupelo" single and a re-recording of a song Cave originally recorded with The Birthday Party during the Mutiny sessions in 1982.

Singles[edit]

  • "Tupelo" (MUTE 038) (July 29, 1985)
    • "Tupelo" (Single Version) b/w: "The Six Strings That Drew Blood"

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Firstborn Is Dead - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds". Allmusic. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Berman, Stuart (May 6, 2009). "From Her to Eternity/The First Born Is Dead/Kicking Against the Pricks/Your Funeral... My Trial". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on January 24, 2011.
  3. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (2004). "Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Completely revised and updated 4th ed.). New York: Fireside. p. 151. 
  4. ^ Dwyer, Michael (July 1998). "Album by Album with Nick Cave". Rolling Stone Australia (Sydney, NSW: Tilmond Pty Ltd) (550): page 41.