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Old 10-02-2008, 06:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 608
Default John Cale - A few albums

How many artistes can still make relevant music into their old age? But a handful in my opinion. One of these is the great John Cale. I had the pleasure of seeing Cale perform at a venue that would hold 1,600 but there was lucky to be 250 people. Brisbane Australia on a rainy night is a strange place indeed. The rain just seems to scare people away, or do I overate his importance to the town that produced Punk pioneers The Saints?
Be that as it may he was on his Circus Live tour and it was a wonderful show for a small audience.

I thought that as I am the owner of a few of Cales albums that I just might present some reviews. Defying convention I also thought that I would work backwards.

From 2005 we have Black Acetate

The first track Outta the Bag is a funky number sung with a falsetto that the brothers Gibb would have been proud of. But not staying still we are then offered Foraride a mid paced rocker with Cale's fine vocal over some good crunching rhythm Guitar along with great bass and drums with lead guitar coming in late. Brotherman is Cale experimenting with an electronic spoken word track. Some may say that he has been in this spoken word direction before but in the context of his free form musical background it may be enjoyed by some but not others who care for a more Rock driven direction. 4 slower paced tracks follow. Satisfied has a lush feel and has Cale singing a love song. In A Flood is darker and brooding with a slight blues feel. Hush follows and also has a slow funk feel with Cales vocal backed by female chorus. Gravel Drive slows things down even further as we reach the middle of the album. A ballad of slow picked guitar and hushed organ. Perfect ups the tempo as we have a standard rocker with Cales vocals hitting a height with the Rhythm section showing their stuff. Sold Motel follows with a slower grunge style guitar and male backing vocals with Cale again singing beautifully. For me Women is a highlight. Cale for me has been at his best when he stretches himself and he is seemingly doing that in this song that mix's slow spoken word over electronica but slips into a straight rock chorus with crunching guitar and a further change into a scat style vocal. Not to be stuck in a rut the chorus gets almost choral to take the song out to the end.
Wasteland slows the pace but with simple piano and acoustic guitar behind Cales plaintive vocal and sharp Viola. Turn The Lights On is a straight out rocker and the final track Mailman(Lying Song) is a mid paced song with the acoustic guitar and various electronic sounds meandering away in the background as Cale again sings very well.

I am of the impression (though I am very far away from the musical universe that is the US and Europe so may well be wrong) that Black Acetate was seemingly ignored. Why? From the first to the last each track has a different feel and direction and covers his many and varied styles from his long years of making mostly quality music. Rockers through to slow ballads and even folk and blue's influences are here. Cales vocals are as good as ever. He has even embraced technology as is shown by the electronica background of some tracks. Lets be realistic, Cale is never going to make or be involved in anything as important as the first two VU releases but that should not stop anyone with some admiration of his career at least enjoying some parts of this not too bad album.

More later.
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