You’ll excuse us but there’s something about watching a young Nick Cave that makes us feel a little uneasy. The leader of The Bad Seeds among various other projects, Cave has grown into one of our favourite rock stars, ageing gracefully with ragged decorum and literary flair all coupled with a murderous and marauding rock ‘n’ roll output. His image as the jet black haired Agony uncle of the modern age means seeing this footage form 1978 is a little unsettling.
The clip we’re referring to, of course, is Cave in his first musical outing with The Boys Next Door performing a quite sensational cover of Nancy Sinatra’s iconic song ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’. Released in 1978, it was the moment that Nick Cave became a star.
The Boys Next Door formed in 1973 around Mick Harvey, Nick Cave, Phil Calvert and a mutual love of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Roxy Music and Alice Cooper. The group would spend the next five years in the adolescent wilderness of forming a band, trying to find their feet and musical pathway. Of course, the group would find that pathway with the birth of new wave and a brand new name for their band—The Birthday Party.
A name which has had some mythical meanings attached to it but that Rowland Howard but an end to in 2008 when he said: “The name The Birthday Party came up in conversation between Nick and myself. There’s this apocryphal story about it coming from a Dostoyevsky novel. It may have had various connotations, but what he and I spoke about was a sense of celebration and making things into more an occasion and ritual.”
But before the name switch, the group released this startling cover of Nancy Sinatra’s hit. At only 21-years-old when the video was shot it would be natural to expect to see Cave as a quivering mass of energy and electrified hormones.
Instead, he is fully formed, his persona polished and perfected and his power as a performer and frontman are as vibrant as ever.
Released in 1978 and before the band formally became The Birthday Party, this clip remains a stunning document of Nick Cave’s unwavering dedication to the art and, perhaps more importantly, that for a sartorially elegant man such as Nick Cave, rock ‘n’ roll has always suited. For an extra bonus, we have a live performance of the track too!