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Bad Seed: The Biography of Nick Cave
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Bad Seed: The Biography of Nick Cave

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  869 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
An explosive biography of Nick Cave, lead singer of the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds -- and one of the most influential postpunk songwriters in British rock. Based on interviews with Cave's fellow musicians, friends, and colleagues, Bad Seed reveals the inside story of this maverick performer and reluctant icon whose songs, according to Rolling Stone, possess "the auth ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Little Brown and Company
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Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
4/5 stars

I'm finding it hard to rate this book, or even give my honest thoughts for it. I feel as if I'm rating someone's life events, as this is a biography, and that's a strange thing to do. There were times in which I admired Nick, but there were others in which I was scared for him and his behaviour, but that was his life and I don't want to judge the book by it. One things for sure, this book definitely didn't glamorise the 'rock and roll' lifestyle, but rather gave a raw and intriguing por
East Bay J
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music-bios
I really love and appreciate and even respect Nick Cave as a singer and songwriter. I was really looking forward to reading Bad Seed to find out more about this guy, especially The Birthday Party. And, while Bad Seed is full of well researched information, there's something about Johnston's writing style that just doesn't deliver. I wouldn't say the book is boring or even difficult to get through but the writing is almost amateurish.

I did feel like I got to know Cave a little better and what I r
Brent Ecenbarger
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Prior to reading Bad Seed: The Biography of Nick Cave, I was a bit of a Nick Cave fan. I own all of albums, 16 studio albums by the Bad Seeds, two by Grinderman, a few soundtracks by Cave and Warren Ellis, and a few Birthday Party records. I've read both of Cave's prose novels, And the Ass Saw the Angel and The Death of Bunny Monroe, and bought and enjoyed the films he has written, particularly Lawless and The Proposition. I've seen Cave in concert twice, once in Chicago as part of the "Dig Laza ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While a bit dry, it covers Nick's early days with The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party in great detail, as well as the formation of the Bad Seeds up through the release of "Let Love In," which was released shortly before the book. It only took me so long to finish thanks to the head cold that knocked me out for the past week, which basically turned my concentration to shit. I'd love to read anything as thorough on Cave's career for the past 20+ years; it's crazy to realize that he's been cr ...more
Anne Williams
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was really only familiar with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds so this gave me all the background and context for the Birthday Party years. I found it really useful and coupled with some youtube searches gave me an appreciation of the early years and maybe some insight into Nick Cave as a person. Amazing most of them lived to tell the tales.
Ethan Miller
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Not exceptionally well written, structured or edited as well as it could be and Johnston's obvious love is the Birthday Party here but Bad Seed is still compulsively readable and easily devoured for Nick Cave fans. For those that came to NC in the 90s after his decade + of explosive nihilism was beginning to come in for a landing (of sorts) and the man of refinement and tailored suits was beginning to fully form, the early life and career of Nick Cave is a bit of shock. Pre-croon, pre strings, p ...more
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, biographies, music
Whilst I approached this book as a fan of Nick Cave's work, there's always a fear that a biography will be either a smear job or a sycophantic fan's ramblings. This book is neither of those: it presents a timeline of Cave's work with a warts and all approach, balancing the good stuff with the character flaws.

There are lots of direct quotes, both from Cave and his associates, making the book feel real and engaging.

There are some wonderful insights into his methiods of wroking and how he diversifi
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
although this only covers up until the release of 'let love in,' the first 150 or so pages is pretty much everything you want to know about THE BIRTHDAY PARTY which is worth the price alone. its amazing that only tracey pew died but the music that the band made will never be equaled in its panic and klang and johnston does a great job of showing the increasing lack of barrier between cave the man and cave the singer. aside from the heroin, there are riots, fights, electrocutions, stolen cars, ex ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, read_2013
This book is an enjoyable read. But the writing is a bit stilted, mostly due to the author composing the book largely out of long, often multi-paragraph quotes interspersed with his own descriptions and analysis of of the goings on in in the lives of Cave and his bandmates. The most jarring issue I had with Johnson's writing was the rather frequent insertion of seemingly unrelated anecdotes in the middle of descriptions of otherwise cohesive narratives. That said, I'd definitely recommend this b ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography
If you're fascinated by endless song title lists and sets and the finest details of recording contracts, then this is the book for you. If you wanted to read something more akin to a story of someone's life, not mere vignettes of their worst moments, sandwiched between record industry tables, then go ahead and save your money for Nick Cave's actual novel And the Ass Saw the Angel or for his records.
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a great biography. It gives a detailed account of Nick Cave’s musical journey from his early days in The Boys Next Door, to the wild years of The Birthday Party, up to his first ten years as frontman of the Bad Seeds. We too journey with him, traveling from Melbourne Australia, to London, Berlin, New York and San Paolo. This was a good read and an excellent way to give a listen to all his discography again.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ozzy
this book totally satiated...

favourite scrap... great description of growing up melbourne, reminds me of my own pull towards sydney, phoenix & rollins:
"...the work of his favourite painter at the time, brett whitely, seemed to offer some focus for his rebellious attitude towards moribund suburban melbourne. cave was intrigued by the intensity and diversity of the themes that the sydney-based painter included in his landscapes"
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it
I really hope that someday there will be an extensive and completely awesome biography of Nick Cave. Until then this book is lackluster, but much better than nothing.

In case anyone is wondering, the timeline of this book begins with Cave's childhood and ends between the release of Let Love In and the very beginnings of Murder Ballads.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Bright yet functional account of a mythically fun modern rocker. Never escapes the 'and then the band started work on this album/ and then they went on tour/ but not before this happened' structure of the majority of rock biography, but the anecdotes themselves are funny and ridiculous enough to satisfy.
Oct 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting subject and story. The biases of the author are fairly transparent, and he seems to have placed great reliance on one source in particular. Sadly, the book seems to have lacked much editorial oversight - bad grammar and misused words abound.
James Ricci
Jun 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fortunately this text doesn't take away from the mythology of Cave. He is still every bit the gorgeous and mysterious creature he was before I picked the book up. It chronicles all releases up until 'Let Love In'. A fantasy drive, a post-punk western, sharp in the tooth and short on breath.
Jan Jørgensen
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeg må komme med en ordentlige anmeldelse senere. man kan kun sige at den er fyldt med smæk lækre anekdoter og fortællinger. Jeg troede ikke at jeg var til biografier men den her bog har givet mig blod på tanden til at vide mere om mine ynglings musikere.
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Enjoyable but felt it didn't get into the depths of this interesting creative force.
Jun 10, 2009 is currently reading it
Early going for this book. Wanted to know more about this enigmatic musician and where he came from. I'll get more into it once I'm done with HOTEL CALIFORNIA.
May 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NOBODY!
This bio was, so, so incredibly boring I could not even believe it; HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE NICK CAVE SO GODDAMN BORING????
Dec 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: pretentious dorks
Shelves: non-fiction, kick-ass
My love for Cave goes beyond the rational. That said, this book was entertaining, not overly sycophantic as celebrity bios tend to be, and very informative. It was over all too soon!
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Nov 09, 2012
rated it it was ok
Jan 01, 2017
Colleen Reese
rated it it was amazing
Oct 30, 2012
Kj Davies
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Mar 07, 2013
Lisae Eidson
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Jul 05, 2011
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Apr 07, 2009
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Sep 28, 2011
Paula Mourão
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Feb 15, 2013
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

As a freelance writer, Ian Johnston has contributed numerous articles on film and music to various publications. He has also worked on several music videos. His book on the career of the The Cramps was described as "one of the best and most diligently researched music book
More about Ian Johnston

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