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Old 10-17-2008, 01:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
4ZZZ
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Songs For Drella. 1990



Songs For Drella is a collaboration between Cale and fellow Velvets member Lou Reed. Much has been written as to the relationship that Cale and Reed had and have had from the VU days. Whatever the truth they got together to record this tribute to Andy Warhol who had passed away in 1987. This is an album for the VU, Cale and Reed purist. There is a certain dynamism that suits each of these two reported egotists who, when they have worked together, have produced some rather interesting to wonderfully great music. Sadly they do not seemingly have the ability to work together too comfortably.

This is in it’s self a concept album about their thoughts, recollections and their own narratives as if Warhol, their early VU mentor. There is generally a certain minimalism in instrumental approach with Reed playing only the Guitar and Cale the keyboards and the occasional Viola. There are no drums and bass. The backing instrumentation plays its part in filling the sound out but with the lyrics, being generally of a narrative style, the key to the album.

Reed sang all of the tracks bar 5. The opener Small Town is sung by Reed is a sing/talk discussion of the trials and tribulations of being different in a small town. This lyrically sets the tone for the entire album. That Warhol was a different individual than most is evident from Small Town to the dreamy words of Hello It’s Me the final track. There are five tracks that Cale sings and they are Style It Takes, Trouble With Classicists, Faces & Names, A Dream and Changed Forever. Style It Takes and Trouble With Classicists are both Cale as Warhol narratives and actually stretches the guitar of Reed and Cale’s piano. A fine song indeed and would not be out of place on any of Cale’s albums. Faces And Names, the next track sung by Cale, is also Warhol the narrator/singer and it wanders softly along with nice guitar work by Reed and the keys warbling away as background. Images is a Reed sung song that has Cale’s drone viola bringing back strong memories of VU. Lyrically the most interesting song is I Believe, a song with an almost bar room piano played by Cale and Reeds distorted guitar coming in and out. The lyrics are pointed. This is a song about the attempted assassination of Warhol by Valerie Solanis. Reed sings

From inside her idiot madness spoke and bang
Andy fell onto the floor
And I believe life's serious enough for retribution
I believe being sick is no excuse and
I believe I would've pulled the switch on her myself

A Dream will bring back slight memories of The Gift from VU’s White Light/White Heat. This is a deadpan to whispering narrative from Cale with the Keys and Guitar freeform in the background. Forever Changed is another Cale sung song with Reeds Guitar playing a leading role. Finally we finish with Hello It’s Me. An at times poignant lyric by Reed with some regrets by him. Cale’s Viola is as tuneful as anything he has done.

This is a very good album and should appeal to those that are Cale, Reed and VU fans. It is lyrically very strong but then it should be considering the intimate knowledge both Cale and Reed had of the subject matter. The songs themselves are tuneful and the limited instrumentation suits the concept as it fills the sound where necessary and keeps away when not. This may not be a good start for the beginner looking to hear the works of either of these artistes or VU but none the less they have done worse work.
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