Anita Louise Lane was born in Melbourne in about 1959. She began singing and writing songs at the age of 16. She was a classmate of Rowland S. Howard, while both were students at the Prahran College of Advanced Education, undertaking the Tertiary Orientation Programme.
Anita Lane met Nick Cave in 1977 and the pair began an intermittent personal relationship. Cave on lead vocals, was a member of a new wave group, The Boys Next Door, with Mick Harvey on guitar, Phill Calvert on drums and Tracy Pew on bass guitar. By December 1978 Rowland S. Howard had joined the line up on lead guitar. In February 1980 The Boys Next Door were renamed as The Birthday Party and, with the group, Lane and Cave, relocated to London.
Lane and Cave co-wrote the lyrics for "A Dead Song", which appeared on their debut album, Prayers on Fire (April 1981). AllMusic's Greg Maurer praised the album, and noted Lane's song writing contribution. George Sarostin of Only Solitaire felt that on this track, Cave "sounds, with all of his whiny 'okay okay', just like one of those poor innocent or half-innocent victims with a bloody nose and a gun at their temple in a gangster movie".
For their second album, Junkyard (May 1982), Lane and Cave co-wrote two tracks, "Dead Joe", and "Kiss Me Black". Session and touring musician, Barry Adamson, provided bass guitar on "Kiss Me Black". The group relocated to West Berlin in August 1982 prior to their cessation in June of the following year.
Anita Lane on keyboards, backing vocals and occasional lead vocals, was briefly a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, with Adamson, Cave, Harvey, Blixa Bargeld on guitar (also a member of Einstürzende Neubauten) and Hugo Race (ex-Plays with Marionettes). She supplied lyrics for "From Her to Eternity", the title track of their debut album (June 1984). She left the group soon after.
Lane co-wrote "Stranger than Kindness" with Bargeld, which appears on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' fourth album, Your Funeral... My Trial (November 1986). Chris Long of BBC Music reviewed the album in May 2009 and found that "Stranger than Kindness" was a "twisted love song. At once both beautiful and startling, it is a song that sounds like a held breath, never letting slip the power that swells within it".
Lane added her lead vocals over a musical score by Bargeld, Cave and Harvey for the soundtrack of the 1988 Australian film, Ghosts... of the Civil Dead, including the track "A Prison in the Desert". Jon Behm of Reviler.org praised her "ethereal howling/whispering vocals, which due to her babydoll voice sound a bit like the ravings of a mentally disturbed child. It's a pretty intriguing tune for any fan of moody, somewhat frightening music".
She also provided guest vocals on a track, "The Bells Belong to the Ashes", for the album, Headless Body in Topless Bar (1988), by German post-punk post-rock band, Die Haut. In 1989 Lane guested on Adamson's debut solo album, Moss Side Story; with Harvey, she was part of the Freedom Choir on "Suck on the Honey of Love" and "Free at Last". She supplied vocals again for his second solo effort, the soundtrack for the film, Delusion (1991).
In 1992 she performed a duet with Kid Congo Powers on Die Haut's track "Excited" and another with Bargeld on "How Long (Have We Known Each Other Now)" for the German group's album Head On. Lane and Bargeld duetted again on "Blume" for his group, Einstürzende Neubauten's sixth studio album, Tabula Rasa (1993). The track is co-written by Lane, Bargeld and his group members.
In 1995 Lane contributed vocals to Harvey's Serge Gainsbourg tribute album: Intoxicated Man. She returned, in 1997, for his second Gainsbourg-inspired album, Pink Elephants. Over the two albums Harvey had Lane "singing the female parts originally performed by the likes of Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot and Anna Karina".
For Murder Ballads (February 1996), the ninth studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Lane sang a verse of their cover version of Bob Dylan's "Death Is not the End" – other verses were by Kylie Minogue and Shane MacGowan – and also vocals for "The Kindness of Strangers".
Anita "Dirty" Lane has had a "sporadic solo career" beginning with her four-track extended play, Dirty Sings, in 1988 on Mute Records. For the recording she was joined by Adamson, Cave, Harvey and Thomas Wydler on drums (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, ex-Die Haut); while Harvey produced the EP.
Lane co-wrote "If I Should Die" with Adamson, "I'm a Believer" with Cave, and "Sugar in a Hurricane" with Harvey and Katy Beale. The third track, "Lost in Music", is a cover version of Sister Sledge's 1979 single and has Cave on piano. AllMusic's Dean McFarlane describes her EP as "arresting" with the "outstanding tracks" being "If I Should Die" and "Sugar in a Hurricane", where Lane "summons the spirit of Nancy Sinatra, Nico, and Marianne Faithfull. [She] plays the scared chanteuse role beautifully".
In 1993 Lane issued her debut solo studio album, Dirty Pearl, which had been recorded from 1982 to that year. It consists of her work with The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Einstürzende Neubauten and Die Haut, as well as exclusive album tracks. The album was co-produced by Bargeld, Cave, Harvey, Johannes Beck, John Cafferty, Die Haut, Einstürzende Neubaten, Sven Röhrig, and The Birthday Party. An expanded CD version includes all four Dirty Sings tracks.
Ned Raggett of AllMusic noted that Dirty Pearl was a "collection organized in reverse chronological order", which was "a bit fragmented as a result [it] still makes for an involving listen, demonstrating clearly that her work is worth taking on its own terms instead of simply being a Cave footnote". He praised her singing "a good if at points girlish voice, albeit one that she's shown more control over with time ... she has a taste for smoky sonic settings for her vocals, sometimes low-key and sly, other times frenetic even as she keeps her cool". Consumable Online's Reto Koradi felt the music "glooms in the dark, slow and almost hypnotic. The lyrics paint pictures of dreams, love, sex, religion and death". Most of the original tracks were co-written by Lane with Harvey.
The album provided Lane's single, "The World's a Girl", which appeared on 5 June 1995. Koradi declared that it was "an obvious choice as a single, it's the most radio-friendly track". The lead track was co-written with Harvey. The two B-sides were duets with Cave for cover versions of "Bedazzled" – originally by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore for their 1967 film of the same name; and "I Love You... Nor Do I" – originally by Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot in French as "Je t'aime... moi non plus" (recorded in 1967).
Lane's second solo studio album, Sex O' Clock, was released on 23 October 2001, which was produced by Harvey. AllMusic's Stewart Mason found it "mixes sleek, creamy, and often danceable R&B-tinged pop tunes with the sort of lyrical plain-spokenness implied by the title". He could not decide whether her delivery which is "so deadpan that it's hard to tell if the sexually-obsessed (and to be honest, rather trite) lyrics ... are meant as parodies of Tori Amos and/or Alanis Morissette, or if Lane takes ... [her lines] seriously".
Sex O'Clock includes a cover version of Gil Scott-Heron's song "Home Is Where the Hatred Is", which Mason lists as one of its "best tracks". Another of Mason's favourites is "I Hate Myself", co-written by Doc Pomus and Ken Hirsch. Lane and Adamson duet on a cover version of Lee Hazlewood's "These Boots Were Made for Walking". In May 2008 Guy Blackman of The Age felt the album was under-appreciated, it was "a classic of suggestive orchestral pop. It should have set the world alight, but didn't".
Digital hardcore band, Lolita Storm, covered "Stranger than Kindness" for a tribute album, Eyes for an Eye: A Tribute to Nick Cave, in 1996. Swedish singer Karin Dreijer Andersson (under her pseudonym, Fever Ray) also covered it in November 2009, which was accompanied by a music video. It was issued as a single in support of Andersson's self-titled debut album. "A Dead Song" was performed by US artists, Get Hustle, for a tribute album, Release the Bats – The Birthday Party as Heard Through the Grinder of Three One G (2006). Australian singer-songwriter Tim Rogers tackled "From Her to Eternity" on Straight to You – Triple J's Tribute to Nick Cave in February 2012.
From 1977 Anita Lane and Nick Cave had a personal and professional relationship; they separated as a couple in 1983 but intermittently worked together professionally into the 1990s. Lane formed a personal relationship with Australian journalist and writer, Nicolas Rothwell. As of 2005, Lane resides in Byron Bay, Australia with her children.Dirty Pearl (October 1993) (Mute STUMM 81, CDSTUMM 81)
Sex O'Clock (24 September 2001) (Mute 5016025611836, Everlasting EVERCD189)
Dirty Sings (23 May 1988) (Mute 12MUTE65, Restless/Mute 7 71436-2)
Yadi Yadi (Gudrun Gut and Anita Lane) (1995) (Intercord INT 825.424)
Yadi Yadi Remixes (Gudrun Gut and Anita Lane) (1995) (Intercord INT 825.435)
"These Boots Are Made for Walking" (Anita Lane and Barry Adamson) (1991)
"Delusion" (Anita Lane and Barry Adamson) (1991)
"The World's a Girl" (1995) (Mute 177)
"Firething" (Gudrun Gut and Anita Lane) (1996) (Intercord)
"Harley Davidson" (Mick Harvey and Anita Lane) (1996)