Kicking Against the Pricks

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Kicking Against the Pricks
Studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Released 18 August 1986
Genre Post-punk
Length 44:48
Label Mute Records
Producer Flood, Tony Cohen
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds chronology
The Firstborn Is Dead
Kicking Against the Pricks
Your Funeral... My Trial
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[2]
Pitchfork Media 8.2/10[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[4]

Kicking Against the Pricks is the third album released by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. First released in 1986, the album is a collection of cover versions. The title is a reference to a biblical quote from acts 9, verse 5 from Acts of the Apostles:

I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks

The album marked the Bad Seeds debut of drummer Thomas Wydler, expanding the Bad Seeds line-up to Cave, Wydler, Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld and Barry Adamson. Cave would later downplay the importance of the record, but said it helped the band develop musically:

It allowed us to discover different elements, to actually make and perform a variety of different sorts of music successfully. I think that helped subsequent records tremendously.[5]

Remarking on the song selection, Cave said:

They were all done for different reasons. Basically a list of songs were made and we tried to play them. We tried songs by The Loved Ones and The Saints and all sorts of people that never got on the record. Some songs were tributes, like the Tom Jones song; other songs we didn't think the song was ever done particularly well in the first place. Some songs had just kind of haunted my childhood, like "The Carnival is Over", which I always loved.[6]

The strings were arranged by Mick Harvey and played by the Berliner Kaffeehausmusik Ensemble. "The Hammer Song" is not to be confused with the song of the same name from the 1990 Bad Seeds album The Good Son.

The album was remastered and reissued on April 27, 2009 as a collector's edition CD/DVD set. The CD features the original 12-song vinyl LP's track listing, while "Black Betty" and "Running Scared" are featured as bonus audio tracks on the accompanying DVD.

Recordings of seven of these songs, performed by the "original" artists, were later issued on the Original Seeds compilation CDs.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Muddy Water" – 5:15 (Phil Rosenthal)
  2. "I'm Gonna Kill That Woman" – 3:44 (John Lee Hooker)
  3. "Sleeping Annaleah" – 3:18 (Mickey Newbury, Dan Folger)
  4. "Long Black Veil" - 3:46 (Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin)
  5. "Hey Joe" – 3:56 (Billy Roberts)
  6. "The Singer" (a.k.a. The Folksinger) – 3:09 (Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels)
  7. "All Tomorrow's Parties" – 5:52 (Lou Reed)
  8. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" – 3:39 (Jimmy Webb)
  9. "The Hammer Song" – 3:50 (Alex Harvey)
  10. "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" – 3:44 (Roger Greenaway, Roger Cook)
  11. "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well" – 2:00 (Traditional, Arranged The Alabama Singers)
  12. "The Carnival Is Over" – 3:16 (Tom Springfield)

Track listing errors[edit]

Some of the songs were re-titled, possibly through error, and one was miscredited as follows:
1. "Muddy Water" by Phil Rosenthal. On the Cave LP the song is credited to John Bundrick, who wrote a song of the same title, recorded by the band Free. Previously recorded by The Seldom Scene, and Johnny Cash.
3. "Sleeping Annaleah" is the song "Weeping Annaleah", previously recorded by Tom Jones.[7]
6. "The Singer" is the song "The Folk Singer", previously recorded by Tommy Roe, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, and Burl Ives.
7. "Black Betty" is actually three songs recorded by Leadbelly as a medley: "Looky Looky Yonder/Black Betty/Yellow Women's Doorbells".
13. "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well" is credited as "Traditional, Arranged The Alabama Singers". While this song was recorded by The Alabama Singers, it follows the arrangement of an earlier recording by The Pilgrim Travelers, which is credited as "Traditional, Arranged J. W. Alexander".


  • "The Singer" (MUTE 47) (16 June 1986)
    • b/w: "Running Scared" / "Black Betty"



  • Barry Adamson - Bass (1,3,4,6,9,10,11,12,13,14), Backing Vocals (1,3,4,12), Vocals (13,14)
  • Blixa Bargeld - Guitar (1,2,9,10,11,14), Slide Guitar (3,4), Backing Vocals (4), Vocals (9,13,14)
  • Dawn Cave - Violin on "Muddy Water"
  • Nick Cave - Vocals (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14), Organ (1,5), Piano Interior (1)
  • Mick Harvey - Piano (1,3,5,9,10,12,14), Backing Vocals (1,3,4,12), Bass (2), Drums (2,5,7,8), Acoustic Guitar (3,4), Snare (4,11), Guitar (6,9,13), Vocals (9,13,14), Organ (11), Vibes (12)
  • Rowland S. Howard - Vocals (9), Organ (10), Guitar (10)
  • Tracy Pew - Bass (5,7,8)
  • Hugo Race - Guitar (2,4,5,7,8,13)
  • Thomas Wydler - Drums (1,3,6,9,10,11,12,13,14), Tempo (2), Percussion (4)

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
UK Albums Chart[8] 89
UK Independent Albums Chart[9] 1


  1. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Kicking Against the Pricks – Nick Cave / Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-195-31373-9. 
  3. ^ Berman, Stuart (6 May 2009). "Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: From Her to Eternity / The First Born Is Dead / Kicking Against the Pricks / Your Funeral... My Trial". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 151. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  5. ^ Dwyer, Michael (July 1998). "Album by Album with Nick Cave". Rolling Stone Australia (Sydney, NSW: Tilmond Pty Ltd) (550): page 41. 
  6. ^ Tracee Hutchison (1992). Your Name's On The Door. Sydney, New South Wales: ABC Enterprises. p. 115. ISBN 0-7333-0115-0. 
  7. ^ Original Seeds
  8. ^ "Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds | Artist". Official Charts Company. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Lazell, Barry. "Indie Hits: "C"". Cherry Red. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2014.