On September 19th, 1988 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds released their fifth studio album Tender Prey. The album was produced by Flood, and was recorded during several sessions over the course of four months at Hansa Studios in West Berlin.
The album opens with one of the Nick Cave’s most well known and beloved songs, “The Mercy Seat,” which has been performed at nearly all the band’s live performances since 1988.
During a recent performance in Berlin, Cave remarked to the crowd that the song was written in a flat in Kreuzberg under the influences of copious amounts of amphetamine. Cave’s drug use was noted to be at its worst at the time he was writing the songs from Tender Prey, with heroin also on the menu.
During the same time as the album’s release, Cave was writing his novel And The Ass Saw The Angel, and continued the theme of incarceration set in the Mercy Seat by starring in the prison film Ghosts of The Civil Dead.
“The Mercy Seat” was later covered by one of Cave’s influences, Johnny Cash, on his album American III: Solitary Man (2000), which is fitting, given the song’s death row theme blends seamlessly into the lore of Cash’s song catalog that was often performed live at prisons across the US, such as San Quentin, and Folsom.