Monday, September 23, 2013

The Lyre of Orpheus

I closed Friday's blog post with Supernaturally by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and at some point during the intervening weekend, it occurred to me how often I listen to its parent album, The Lyre of Orpheus, and how seldom I listen to the other half of that album, Abattoir Blues.

There are plenty of double albums in my collection, but Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus is the only one that I tend to take as two separate albums (possibly along with that Outkast album). I think if the two sets were simply labelled Disc 1 and Disc 2 - as 95% of other double albums are - I would be more inclined to listen to the whole thing as one sole work, but since Mr. Cave was kind enough to give each CD a proper name, I sometimes forget that they're two halves of the same album.

As for why I prefer TLoO to AB...well, my tough-eared teenage self would cringe if he could read this, but The Lyre of Orpheus is just an easier listen. Abattoir Blues is good fun, sure, but there are a lot of harsh sounds that make it somewhat harder to enjoy. Aside from the demonstrable Cave classics like Nature Boy and There She Goes, My Beautiful World, the half-album mostly manifests itself in the form of drawn-out jams with silly, slightly violent lyrics. Again, it's fun, but not as out-and-out excellent as its counterpart.

Of course, TLoO isn't short on gore - listen to the title track for a prime example - but on the whole, the focus is on love and relationships, which is much easier to swallow than AB's unhealthy obsession with more visceral stuff. Compare these two tracks; the first is from Abattoir Blues, the second is from The Lyre of Orpheus:

Hiding All Away is plenty enjoyable, but the stuff about the chef making the woman climb inside his oven puts me slightly ill-at-ease. For one reason or another, I'd much sooner listen to Nick Cave sing about putting his hand down someone's panties.

Oddly enough, I had assumed pre-purchase that I'd prefer Abattoir Blues. I had it in my head that the first disc was full of big, rocked-up numbers, while the second disc was softer and more acoustic. I wasn't entirely wrong, but as it turns out, sensitive Nick Cave can sometimes be even better than rocked-up Nick Cave. I was surprised, but just listen to Breathless and tell me you'd rather listen to something with a drumkit and a Marshall stack behind it:

Besides, The Lyre of Orpheus isn't devoid of rockers - Supernaturally demonstrated that quite ably on Friday.

Can you think of any other double-disc sets that really do feel like two separate records? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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