The Birthday Party: Nick Cave (vocals); Mick Harvey (guitar, drums); Rowland S. Howard (guitar); Tracy Pew (bass); Phill Calvert (drums).
Additional personnel: Philip Jackson, Mick Hunter, Stephen Ewart (brass).
Producers: Tony Cohen, The Birthday Party; Nick Launey.
While the Birthday Party never had any hits, what they did have was a collection of full-on assaults that they called songs. It's this kind of hit to which this collection's title refers. HITS collects tracks from the band's years with the influential UK independent record label 4AD between 1980 and 1983.
Though all the tracks are classics (or near-classics), some of the standouts include "Mr. Clarinet," a crunching track with some wicked organ riffs courtesy of Mick Harvey, "Nick the Stripper," a punishing foray into self-flagellation, and "Zoo Music Girl," which highlights Nick Cave's desperate vocals. Rowland Howard's skittering guitar lines, and Tracy Pew's fat, snaking bass sounds spike the tricked-out rockabilly of "Release the Bats," a song which probably did more for the then-nascent Goth movement than anything since Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead." "Dead Joe," built on the accelerated and wildly careening drumming of Phil Calvert, and "Wild Wood," are burned-out blues-influenced tracks that are clear indicators of the direction that Nick Cave would follow in his subsequent solo career. HITS is the obvious place to start if you've got the nerve to enter the world of the Birthday Party.
Reviews...they roar, howl, and rail like a preacher on fire, relishing the ecstasy in the agony... - Rating: A- - Entertainment Weekly