Formed: Melbourne, Australia

Band Bio / Discography / Lineups

In my opinion, Australia’s fourth-finest band - after The Saints, Radio Birdman, and The Celibate Rifles. The Birthday Party began life as The Boys Next Door and introduced of of the major players in alternative/indie rock: Nick Cave, their manic, obsessive singer who went on to become King of the Goths (an accolade I believe he wasn't cock-a-hoop about). However, the Party was far from solely the product of Cave’s fevered imagination. His band mates - Rowland S. Howard (guitar), Mick Harvey (guitar, drums, organ, piano), Tracey Pew (bass) and Phill Calvert (drums) - provided lyrics, tunes and playing just as destructive as Cave’s. They started off as a fairly normal Roxy/Velvets-influenced rock band but went punk in late 1976 and, with the addition of second guitarist Rowland S. Howard in 1978 began producing wild music, borrowing from artists as diverse as Howlin’ Wolf and The Velvet Underground.

Their first album, Door, Door was recorded when they were called The Boys Next Door, and is fairly straightforward new wave art-punk with a vaguely paranoid edge. On ‘Brave Exhibitions’ and ‘Roman Roman’ (a silly homage to Polanski) saxophones are played in standard fashion and melodic backing vocals are the order of the day. Side one is given over to tightly strummed guitars and a steady 4/4 beat. It is probably the band’s most honestly enjoyable record, with only ‘Shivers’ really offering any hint of the majesty to follow. A big slushy ballad, it turns the act of being dumped into major melodramatic teen angst. And it’s great.

The Hee Haw 12" single introduced more abrasion and murk into the brew and took them further away from the mainstream, as did their second album The Birthday Party, released first as The Boys Next Door and then as The BIrthday Party. This was by some measure their most deranged sounding record yet, and coincided with their move to London.

Nick CaveBlokeBirthday partySkull

In the UK The Birthday Party’s music was met with much favour amongst music critics and high-cheekboned kids dressed in black who were looking for more than Anti-Pasti and their ilk had to offer. They signed to the happening 4AD Records (and then Mute) and in between 1980 and 1983 issued a brace of mad-sounding barrier-breaking singles and two LPs, Prayers On Fire and Junkyard (They also released records back home via the Aussie label Missing Link.)

One of their EP's, the live Drunk On The Pope’s Blood was aptly self-described on its sleeve as “16 minutes of sheer hell!”, and it was split with the like minded Lydia Lunch.

All of these records are notable for the astonishingly violent lyrics and music, full of brutally pummeled rhythm guitars, piercing lead runs and loose-sounding arrangements which often obscures the fact that the band's skills are highly developed, their ability to twist the screw unmatched by any other at the time.

The Birthday Party / Boys Next Door Nick CaveNickThe Birthday Party - The Bad Seed

ABOVE: Article from Punk Lives #6, and an advert

Following two excellent 12" EPs in 1983 - The Bad Seed and Mutiny! - they split.

For anybody wishing to delve further into their formative period, the bootleg album Boys Next Door (1988) features the contents of a studio tape from August 1977, recorded prior to Howard joining. Interesting poppy punk, it even has versions of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’ (not the 7” version) alongside spunky originals like ‘Masturbation Generation’ and ‘Who Needs You?’.



Singles & Albums / Extraneous Releases / Bootlegs / Various Artists

The Boys Next Door - These Boots Are Made For Walking These Boots Are Made For Walking (7", as The Boys Next Door, 1978)

The Boys Next Door - ShiversShivers (7", as The Boys Next Door, 1979)

The Boys Next Door - Door, DoorDoor, Door (LP, as The Boys Next Door, 1979)

The Boys Next Door - Hee Haw Hee Haw (12", as The Boys Next Door, 1979)

The Birthday Party - The Birthday Party LPThe Birthday Party (LP, as The Boys Next Door, 1980)

The Birthday Party - The Friend Catcher The Friend Catcher (7", 1980)

The Birthday Party - Mr. Clarinet Mr. Clarinet (7", 1980)

The Birthday Party - Prayers On FirePrayers On Fire (LP, 1981)

The Birthday Party - Nick The Stripper Nick The Stripper (7"/12", 1981)

The Birthday Party - Release The Bats Release The Bats (7", 1981)

The Birthday Party - Junkyard Junkyard (LP, 1982)

The Birthday Party / Lydia Lunch - Drunk On The Pope's Blood / The Agony Is The EcstacyDrunk On The Pope's Blood (12", split with Lydia Lunch, 1982)

The Birthday Party - The Birthday Party LPThe Birthday Party (LP, reissue, 1982)

The Birthday Party - The Bad Seed The Bad Seed (12", 1983)

The Birthday Party - MutinyMutiny! (12", 1983)

Extraneous Releases

The Boys Next Door / Models - SplitBoys Next Door / Models (7", gig freebie, split, as The Boys Next Door, 1979)

The Boys Next Door - Happy BirthdayHappy Birthday (7", gig freebie, as The Boys Next Door, 1980)

The Birthday Party - Dead JoeDead Joe (7", flexi, 1982)

The Boys Next Door Live Tape 1982Live (Tape, as The Boys Next Door, 1982)

The Birthday Party - The Birthday Party 12"The Birthday Party (12", 1983)

The Birthday Party - It's Still Living It's Still Living (LP, 1985)

The Birthday Party - A Collection ... A Collection (LP, 1985)

The Birthday Party - The Peel Sessions The Peel Sessions (12"/CDS, 1987)

The Birthday Party - The Peel Sessions IIThe Peel Sessions II (12"/CDS, 1988)

The Birthday Party - Mutiny / The Bad Seed Mutiny / The Bad Seed (CD, 1989)

The Birthday Party - Hee Haw Hee-Haw (LP/CD, 1989)

The Birthday Party - Drunk On The Pope's BloodDrunk On The Pope's Blood (CD, 1991)

Definitive Missing Link Recordings 1979-1982 Definitive Missing Link Recordings 1979-1982 (5xCD, box set, 1991)

The Birthday Party - Hits Hits (2xLP/CD, 1992)

The Birthday Party - Live 1981-82Live 1981-82 (CD, 1999)

The Birthday Party - The John Peel Sessions The John Peel Sessions (CD, 2001)

The Birthday Party - Peel SessionsPeel Sessions (2xLP, 2011)


LiveLive (Tape, as The Boys Next Door, 1982)

Live In BerlinLive In Berlin (Tape, 1982)

Coiutus Sanctus AmenCoitus Sanctus Amen (LP, 1984)

Boys Next Door Boys Next Door (LP, as The Boys Next Door, 1984)

Devil In A BottleDevil In A Bottle (LP, 1985)

A Social Gathering For The Celebration Of Someone's BirthA Social Gathering For The Celebration Of Someone's Birth (LP, 1987)

Next DoorNext Door (CD, as The Boys Next Door, 1994)

The Front Row Is Not For The FragileThe Front Row Is Not For The Fragile (LP, with Lydia Lunch, 2004)

The Birthday Party feat. Lydia Lunch - Funhouse Funhouse (LP, feat. Lydia Lunch, 2006)

Born DeadBorn Dead: The John Peel Sessions 1980 & 1981 (LP, 2007)

A Fuckin' Rotten Business This!A Fuckin' Rotten Business This! (LP, 2007)

Masturbation GenerationMasturbation Generation Live 1977 (LP, as The Boys Next Door, 2008)

Drunk On Deutschen BloodDrunk On Deutschen Blood (CDR, 2009)

Lost And BraveThe Lost & Brave Exhibitions Of... (LP, as The Boys Next Door, 2009)

Slum ChurchSlum Church (CDR, 2009)

The Boys Next Door - What's The Storey? What's The Storey? (LP, as The Boys Next Door, 2011)

The Birthday Party - Peel Sessions 1980-1982Peel Sessions 1980-1982 (LP, 2011)

The Birthday Party w/ Lydia Lunch - Welcome To The Car Smash...Welcome To The Car Smash... (LP, as The Birthday Party with Lydia Lunch, 2012)

God Gave Them Sex AppealGod Gave Them Sex Appeal (Tape, 1980s)

CremationCremation (LP)

Your Birthday Party Have Now Begun!Your Birthday Party Have Now Begun! (LP)

Various Artists

Lethal Weapons Australia LP 1978 (Suicide): These Boots Are Made For Walking / Masturbation Generation / Boy Hero

Fast Forward #2 Australia Tape 1980 (Fast Forward): Figure Of Fun / Yard / Interview

Fast Forward #10 Australia Tape 1982 (Fast Forward): Release The Bats / Interview

Dogs In Space UK LP/CD 1987 (WEA): Shivers

Inner City Sound Australia 2xCD 2005 (Laughing Outlaw): Sex Crimes

Tales From The Australian Underground - Vol. 2: 1977-1990 Australia 2xCD 2006 (Feel Presents): Dive Position

Silhouettes & Statues (A Gothic Revolution 1978 - 1986) UK 5xCD 2017 (Cherry Red): Release The Bats





Nick Cave Collector's Hell 1977-2011



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