CRIME & THE CITY SOLUTION – A History of Crime: Berlin 1987-1991

January 01, 1970



Let’s face it: you can’t talk about Crime & the City
Solution without referencing Nick
Cave & the Bad Seeds.
Not because the band contained Birthday Party guitarists Rowland S. Howard (in
the group’s early years) and Mick Harvey, but because bandleader Simon Bonney
is so obviously enamored with his fellow Australians’ signature rootsy art rock


That said, the world ain’t exactly overrun with
Cave-influenced bands, so we can forgive Bonney, violinist/lyricist Bronwyn
Adams and crew their stylistic homages. Indeed, A History of Crime: Berlin
makes a strong case for Crime as a continuance of the distinctive
sound the Bad Seeds pioneered, rather than a copy. Covering the years when the
band was based in the titular city and had traded Howard for Einstürzende
Neubauten guitarist Alexander Hacke, History draws its tracks from Crime’s final three LPs: 1998’s Shine, 1989’s The Bride Ship and 1990’s Paradise Discotheque,
adding “The Adversary,” from the soundtrack to Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World.


Bonney’s tastes in Americana run more toward folk and
country, rather than blues and gospel, which gives tunes like “The Dolphin and
the Sharks,” “On Every Train (Grain Will Bear Grain)” and the exceptionally accessible “I Have the Gun” a lighter,
less claustrophobically intense feel than the usual Cave opus. The haunting
“The Adversary” starts out with ominous BP/BS menace, but adds a soaring chorus
that introduces a modicum of hope, while “Keepsake” proves the band’s ability
to deliver a disturbing anthem. And on the four-part epic “The Last Dictator,”
the Solution stakes out its own colorful, dramatic territory.


Not every track here works to Crime’s advantage – “The Bride
Ship” indulges in too much droning melodrama, while “Hunter” pushes Bonney so
far over the top he surely got dizzy from lack of air. But overall A History of Crime: Berlin 1987-1991 is a strong overview of
a career often unfairly dismissed as a Bad Seeds pastiche. Given that the group
has reunited (with Bonney, Adams and Hacke joined by 16 Horsepower’s David
Eugene Edwards, the Dirty Three’s Jim White and Outrageous Cherry’s Matthew
Smith), it makes an excellent introduction as well.


the Gun,” “Keepsake,” “The Last Dictator I-IV” MICHAEL TOLAND


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