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Inspired by Andy Murray's Wimbledon triumph? Still seeking a luxury holiday this August? A couple could save up to £1,200 by booking a seven-night holiday for the price of four nights at Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Montego Bay in Jamaica. It holds summer tennis clinics run by former Davis Cup players and features rooms designed by Ralph Lauren, the official outfitter of the Wimbledon Championships.

Pop: Pick of the crop from the Seeds

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Astoria, London

Classic cinema: I wept and wept, from start to finish

A FRIEND of mine invited me to attend an advance screening of a Russian film in Soho. I asked him what it was like and he said, "Well, nothing really happens and then someone dies. Come along. You'll love it." My friend was releasing the film in this country, so I felt obliged. Sitting through a Russian film is the kind of thing friends do for each other.

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How we met: Henry Rollins and Nick Cave

When Henry Rollins is not lifting weights, he is singing with the Rollins Band (having graduated from the LA hardcore legends, Black Flag), writing novels, performing spoken-word shows and acting in Hollywood movies, such as 'Johnny Mnemonic' and 'Heat'. His date of birth, 2.13.61, is also the name of his publishing company, which has brought out two books by Nick Cave. Since leaving Australia, Cave, 39, has recorded over a dozen albums of dark, literate rock music with the Birthday Party and, after 1984, the Bad Seeds. He has also written a novel, 'And the Ass Saw the Angel', and published two books of lyrics. He is divorced with one son and lives in London

POP& JAZZ

The Braxtons play Glasgow SECC, 5 Mar; Manchester Nynex, 6 Mar; London Wembley Arena, 8, 9 Mar; Sheffield Arena, 11 Mar; Birmingham NEC, 13, 14 Mar

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RECORDS NEW RELEASES

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Murder Ballads (Mute, CD/LP/tape, out Mon). Some records catch your ear or break your heart. This one ties a flex round your neck, fills your skull with bullets and plunges a penknife in your chest. Turning away from his recent introspective material, Nick Cave goes for the jugular with 10 tales from the crypt: all gothic gloom, with some pitch-black humour for added darkness. It's not often you see the word "Aaaaaaaaah!" on a lyric sheet. The Bad Seeds supply impeccable, uncluttered backing, abetted by a spooky P J Harvey on the spine-chillingly lovely "Henry Lee" and a saccharine Kylie Minogue on "Where the Wild Roses Grow". The only problem is that Cave hasn't twisted the repetitive formula of traditional folk ballads far enough. For all the ghoulish fun of the hammy Hammer horror, the stories aren't all that tense or shocking, and the subject matter isn't examined with much insight. Perfect for scaring small children on Hallowe'en, but I'm not sure that you'd want to listen to it more than a few times. If you do, you should be arrested. Nicholas Barber

Pop / Grant Hart The Garage, London

There was a loose, informal atmosphere at Grant Hart's acoustic show last weekend. A touch too loose and informal, actually: everyone was chatting. Hart may have relieved his songs of their sizzling feedback for the night, but he still didn't play anything you could mistake for background music. (If you heard his new live album Ecce Homo piped into your supermarket, you'd throw yourself infront of the nearest speeding trolley.) His tales of love laboured and lost make Nick Cave's "Where the Wild Roses Grow" sound like an ode to Alan Titchmarsh. Time has clearly stood still in Angstville, USA.

Now look here: Mick Harvey is Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg's predecessor as the bad boy of chanson, Jacques Brel, has been widely (and often wildly) translated, finding his way into most record collections via David Bowie, Scott Walker, Alex Harvey or Marc Almond. But Serge himself has never really crossed the channel.

ROCK / Thin dark dukes of Goth

IN THE middle of his superb set at the Empire, Nick Cave told the crowd a joke. It went like this. 'Bloke walks into a bar. Gets his head shot off. It could have been any of a dozen people.' And people say the man has no sense of humour. Admittedly, the punchline lacked focus, but the build-up was faultless. With that, his mighty six-piece band, the Bad Seeds, rattled into a song called 'Jangling Jack', from Cave's new album Let Love In. It was all about a bloke who walked into a bar and got his head shot off. Oh dear, it hadn't been a joke after all. He had just been introducing the next number.

MUSIC / Critic's Choice

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

DANCE / Journey of a kilted jilter

CHASING unattainable dreams in exotic settings. This is the stuff of Romantic ballets such as La Sylphide and Giselle. Matthew Bourne, artistic director of Adventures in Motion Pictures, has selected La Sylphide for the zany treatment he gave The Nutcracker, a recent smash hit. In Highland Fling, the reworked title for the Scottish ballet, Bourne keeps the original story, but slaps it about with irreverent wit. James, a crofter, is transformed into a kilt-wearing, drug-abusing, jobless welder who is lured from his wedding by a sylphide (or sprite). With not so much as a nod in the direction of his jilted bride, he tries to possess the sprite as enthusiastically as a bag of Ecstasy.

ROCK / At last, a comfortable Cave: The daunting front-man of the Birthday Party has mellowed into a songwriter fully at home with himself. Ben Thompson met him

WHATEVER else Nick Cave does, he will always stand out in a crowd. I know this because I saw him in one once; bowling along Kensington High Street in an immaculate pin-striped suit, foreign-language students scattering to the left and right of him. With his high forehead, his hair swept back and his finely wrought legs tapering with the sturdy elegance of a Chippendale cabinet, Cave looked more like a character in a book than someone you might actually talk to.
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