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Birthday Party

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(This page covers both the Birthday Party and the band's previous incarnation as the Boys Next Door. See also Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.)
Photo lineup1
The Birthday Party (originally known as The Boys Next Door) were an Australian post-punk band, active from 1978 to 1983. In 1980, they moved from Melbourne to London. Disillusioned by their stay, the band's sound and live shows became increasingly violent. They broke up soon after relocating to West Berlin in 1983. Despite limited commercial success, The Birthday Party's influence has been far-reaching, and they have been called one of "the darkest and most challenging post-punk groups to emerge in the early '80s." In his lyrics, Nick Cave frequently used Old Testament imagery, combining "sacred and profane" themes. Their 1981 single "Release the Bats" was particularly influential on gothic rock, a tag which the band rejected. The creative core of The Birthday Party went on to acclaimed careers: singer and songwriter Nick Cave, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Mick Harvey, and singer, songwriter and guitarist Rowland S. Howard....(read more at Wikipedia)

Links To Peel

As with Joy Division, Peel found that new bands he listened to either copied or were inspired by the Birthday Party, and while he lauded the intention warned that they had created a considerable benchmark to be surpassed. At one point he is said to have cited Phil Calvert as his favourite drummer. [1] He named Release The Bats as his single of the year in 1981 and chose it for that year's Peelenium.

The band recorded four Peel sessions over a period of two years. All featured previously recorded material apart from the last: they regarded this as the worst, with Nick Cave declaring that he was "really uninspired that day." [2] In the same interview, Howard added:

"When we went in to do that we were just - we had already recorded two of the songs, and we were just going through the motions of recording them again. It's very hard when you are doing a Peel session. You have extremely limited time, so you don't really have the time to approach songs from a new angle. It just has to be basically live, which is the way Sonny's Burning and Deep In The Woods were recorded on the EP. So it just felt dumb because we were just recording them exactly how we had done them before."

However, it would appear that most fans disagree with this, opining that the sessions replicated their live performances fairly accurately. [3] Nick's solo live set (TX 11 October 2001), part of a broadcast to honour Peel's purported 40 years on the radio, concluded with this tribute:

"I'd just really like to thank, on a personal note, John Peel, who helped the Birthday Party a lot when we arrived here. He was the only one who would go near us: he played us a lot, we did a lot of Peel Sessions with him, and thank you John."

Festive Fifty Entries

The Birthday Party - Nick The Stripper (1981)03:47

The Birthday Party - Nick The Stripper (1981)

Nick The Stripper, the only promo video made by the band



Four sessions. All available on The John Peel Sessions / The Complete John Peel Sessions (CD/2xLP, 2002/2011, Strange Fruit). 'Release The Bats' also released on Mixed Peel (cassette, NME, 1987).

1. Recorded 1980-09-10. First broadcast 25 September 1980. Repeated

  • Cry / Yard / Figure Of Fun / King Ink

2. Recorded 1981-04-21. First broadcast 28 April 1981. Repeated 20 May 1981, 01 July 1981, 27 July 1981, 20 August 1981, 23 December 1981, 04 February 1982.

  • Release The Bats / Roland Around In That Stuff / (Sometimes) Pleasure Heads Must Burn / Loose

3. Recorded: 1981-12-02. First broadcast: 10 December 1981. Repeated

  • Big Jesus Trash Can / She's Hit / Bully Bones / Six Inch Gold Blade

4 Recorded 1982-11-15. First broadcast 22 November 1982. Repeated 09 December 1982, 09 January 1985.

  • Pleasure Avalanche / Deep In The Woods / Sonny's Burning / Marry Me (Lie! Lie!)

Other Shows Played

(This list was compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive. Please add more information if known.) While the band changed their name after the release of records under the name Boys Next Door, JP started to refer to them as The Birthday Party while playing these Boys Next Door records.

  • 12 March 1980: Happy Birthday (single) Missing Link (as Boys Next Door) (Peel expresses surprise that the Boys Next Door single was cut at Porky in London.)
  • 12 March 1980: Riddle House (single - Happy Birthday) Missing Link (as Boys Next Door)
  • 18 March 1980: Happy Birthday (Single) Missing Link  (as Boys Next Door)
  • 20 March 1980: Death By Drowning (EP - Hee Haw) Missing Link (as Boys Next Door)
  • 14 April 1980: Happy Birthday (single) Missing Link (as Boys Next Door) (Peel points out that Boys Next Door have changed their name to Birthday Party.)
  • 29 April 1980: Catman (album - Birthday Party) Missing Link
  • 30 April 1980: Hats On Wrong (LP – The Birthday Party) Missing Link
  • 15 May 1980: The Hair Shirt (LP – The Birthday Party) Missing Link
  • 20 May 1980: The Friend Catcher (unknown release) Missing Link
  • 02 June 1980: Mr Clarinet (7”) Missing Link
  • 07 July 1980: Mr Clarinet (7") Missing Link
  • 10 July 1980: Happy Birthday
  • 17 July 1980: (JP plays track from an Ears record that was sent to him by a member of The Birthday Party.)
  • 13 October 1980: The Friend Catcher (7") 4AD AD 12
  • 20 October 1980: Waving My Arms (7" - The Friend Catcher) 4AD AD 12
  • 13 November 1980: end of unknown track
  • 26 November 1980: The Friend Catcher (7") 4AD AD 12
  • 11 January 1984: Swampland (EP - Mutiny) Mute
  • Peel Mid Feb 1984: Fears Of Gun (EP - The Bad Seed) 4AD
  • 08 May 1984: The Hair Shirt
  • 27 September 1984: (JP - "I spent most of today listening to new records - I spend most of my days listening to new records, and I'm quite content to do so, most of the time. But, I just want to say this. If any more of you are planning a career sounding like The Birthday Party, this is what you've got to aspire to.") King Ink (LP-Prayers On Fire) 4AD (JP - "Now back to the rehearsal rooms with the rest of you...")
  • 05 December 1984: Release The Bats (7") 4AD
  • 01 April 1985: Big Jesus Trash Can (LP - It's Still Living) Missing Link
  • 16 April 1985: She's Hit / A Dead One / Pleasure Heads Must Burn (album - It's Still Living) Missing Link
  • 22 April 1985: Junkyard / Blast Off (album - It's Still Living) Missing Link
  • 01 May 1985: She's Hit / A Dead One / Pleasure Heads Must Burn (album - It's Still Living) Missing Link
  • 25 June 1985: Blast Off (LP - It's Still Living) Missing Link
  • 16 September 1985: The Friend Catcher (7") 4AD


  • 23 February 1987: Release the Bats (The Peel Sessions EP 12") Strange Fruit
  • 03 March 1987: (Sometimes) Pleasure Heads Must Burn (12" - The Peel Sessions) Strange Fruit
  • 28 December 2000: (JP: "[Gutterville Splendour] sound amazing, I have to say ... you can't help but be reminded of the Birthday Party, but what a good band to be reminded of.")
  • 23 August 2001: Figure Of Fun (LP - The John Peel Sessions) Strange Fruit
  • 28 August 2001: Release The Bats (LP - The John Peel Sessions) Strange Fruit

See Also

External Links

  1. However, Calvert was fired in 1982 over being too conventional and having "very limited personal vision". [1]

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