The Bad Seeds, en masse, pitch up in Berlin. The album spawns the classic Cave compositions “The Mercy Seat” and “Deanna” – both still in the band’s live set. The recording is marked by a certain degree of chaos.
Cave: “By that stage we were hitting on something, but hitting on it a little too hard. That record was so fucked up, the making of it was seriously difficult for everybody. I think you can kind of hear that a lot.”
Harvey: “Hearing it back again, I’d completely agree with that. It’s a complete basket case of a record. We did tracks in Berlin, then it moved through three different studios in London, and on to Australia, different studios in Melbourne. It was a real ramshackle… mess.”
Cave: “‘The Mercy Seat’…I think that was the one song I wrote when I was writing the novel [And The Ass Saw The Angel]– I was writing the novel on this desk, but had a notebook on the side and lyrics kept dropping into that. Every mix we did, we went back and remixed it, to try to get this song we thought was monumental, to work in some kind of way, and that was really difficult.”
Harvey: “At the time Nick had a room in Berlin above someone’s apartment. It was a real stateless city, a haven for disaffected artists from all over. It was a bizarre setting, with the Wall. At pavement level, it was madness.”
Cave: “Why was the recording difficult? Everyone was very fucked up, in a standard kind of way, and a little bit more so. The producer, Tony Cohen, he was in pretty bad condition as well. I remember we lost him for a couple of days.”
Harvey: “We were starting to get worried about him, and thought something terrible must have happened to him as he still hadn’t shown by six the next evening. And eventually he just reappeared: bleary-eyed, hair matted, and said, ‘Ah, I feel fantastic!’ He’d crawled up into the ventilator shaft and gone to sleep for 24 hours. So that was the condition he was working in.”
Cave: “There was a lot of time wasted. It took a week to sing ‘Slowly Goes The Night’, never one of my favourite songs, first of all trying to stand, then trying to sing. And still, it’s woefully out of tune. It could have gone on for ever.”