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Old 11-10-2008, 07:27 PM   #21 (permalink)
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For those who have not heard Cale's solo stuff, or the Velvet Underground. you really should, this thread gives great inisght into his albums and should provide you a personal starting point for exploration.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:41 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayJamJah View Post
For those who have not heard Cale's solo stuff, or the Velvet Underground. you really should, this thread gives great inisght into his albums and should provide you a personal starting point for exploration.
Of course you are 100% correct. A couple more posts to come and then I can devote my listening elsewhere.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:56 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Back to the future.

Words for The Dying. 1989.



I have only come across this album in the last few weeks so was reticent to review it without giving it a fair listen. In researching it I have found there was a tendency to dismiss it by some fans and critic's but I like it. It is to me what the career of Cale encapsulates. The strangeness of the musically safe and the expectation of something experimental and this oddly sums that up. The album starts out with 6 tracks consisting of The Falkland Suite.
Their various titles are as follows. 1) Introduction, 2) There Was A Savior/Interlude I, 3) On A Wedding Anniversary, 4) Interlude II, 5) Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed and 6) Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. They are all orchestral pieces with the lyrics being the poems of Dylan Thomas. As well as orchestra there is a boys choir. I tend to find this all softly and gently melodic for the majority of the time. I have always enjoyed Cales voice so have no issue with his singing. I am no reader of poetry so have no idea how the lovers of Thomas' poems would react but it is all fine with me. Of all the pieces Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night would be my favourite.
The next 2 tracks are Songs Without Words I and II. Both short piano based tracks I find them pleasant and enjoyable enough and in keeping with the direction of the album. The final song is The Soul Of Carmen Miranda and some would consider that this piece of pop was out of keeping with the general feel of the album. Well that's Cale, get used to it. This may not have been out of place on the magnificent Cale/Eno Wrong Way Up reviewed earlier in this thread. A nice meandering electronic pop song with Cale throwing in a viola for good measure.

5 tracks. 2003.



An EP that I have also been able to secure in the last few weeks and in hindsight showed a good insight to the direction that Cale eventfully took with Hobo Sapiens and Black Acetate. Cale made extensive use of ProTools for these 5 tracks and it shows with a less than organic sound. Verses starts us out with a moody song with Cale's gruff voice backed with a wordless female singing in the background. Waiting for Blonde follows and is a tale of a travelling salesman on a train. A funky song with the lyrics spoken at times. This is a very good song. Chums Of Dumpty (We All are) is a bit less melodic though it does come across that he is having fun using his new found music software. Plenty happening in the background an lots of direction changes. E Is Missing has a Guitar leading before getting back to the programmed music. A sad tale and Cale sings accordingly.
Wilderness Approaching finish's this EP. A strong vocal performance with a more minimalist approach to this musically with this song with the vocal and the lyric taking the forefront initially with processed vocals in the background of this slowish song.
A good EP and well worth tracking down for those who like Cale.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:33 PM   #24 (permalink)
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The final review is the last release that Cale has made. A live album called Circus Live from 2007.


Live albums are by nature a generally hit or miss affair. I am of the opinion that the live atmosphere is rarely recaptured and they are fan fodder at best. There are always exceptions. Though to a degree this is in the most part fan fodder it has it's moments and I put that down to the fact that Cale has had no issue with reconstructing a couple of his songs for live performance. It is also generally a "best of" with a few recent tracks and has wonderful packaging consisting of 2 CD,s and a DVD.
There are a couple of VU songs on Disc one. Faithful versions of Venus In Furs and Femme Fatale. Femme Fatale melds with an obscure Cale B Side Rosegarden Funeral Of Sores with good effect. A couple of blasts from the Island years in Save Us, Helen Of Troy, Buffalo Ballet, Cable Of Hogue and Dirty Ass Rock and Roll. A track follows called Set You Free from an album I do not have nor have I heard called Walking On Locusts. The other tracks are of recent vintage from both Hobo Sapien and Black Acetate and are performed very well and faithfully. Disc 2 opens with a cover of Walking The Dog and a totally reconstructed 12 minute version of Gun shows Cale at his experimental best in a live situation. If you are looking for that famous guitar solo forget it. Hanky Panky Nohow from Paris 1919 harks back to the early days and then he rocks out with a nice crunchy version of Pablo Picasso that segues into Mary Lou a nice obscure rock and roll song from a compilation called Guts. Cale whips in a drone, what would be a live performance without Cales famous drones, and then we get the recent Zen from Hobo Sapiens, Style It Takes from Songs for Drella with a version of Heartbreak Hotel. The anti war Mercenaries (Ready For War) from Sabotage Live follows and we finish out with another Drone. The DVD is good as it has band practise in dribs and drabs and a new song with a cartoon film clip called Jumbo In The Modern World and a couple of audio tracks, Gravel Drive and a 2007 version of Big White Cloud. I actually prefer this to the original from Vintage Violence. Modern Production techniques are better for the song. This DVD alone makes the package a worthy addition to the Cale fans collection.
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:12 AM   #25 (permalink)
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So after this extensive review of Cales discography just where does your reviewer stand as to his place in the music world since his first appearance in the 60's? First as is obvious I am a big fan. My thinking could be considered biased but I would like to think not. I have not reviewed the first 2 VU albums as there are already very good reviews on this Album Review Board that are worth the VU/Cale/Reed novice looking up. I consider them both masterpieces with a slight feeling that I would have The Velvet Underground and Nico over White Light/ White Heat. Though commercially unsuccessful at the time of their release both, with time, they have become two of the most influential albums in modern music. Of all the artistes that I have listened to over the years it is only Dylan that I can think of that has had a more profound influence on what I have heard in contemporary rock music and its various derivatives. Even today when I listen to some releases, this years Songs In A and E by Spiritualized for example, I hear some Cale VU influences. Though Lou Reed was the major songwriter, and in the end the leading force, it would, in my opinion, be disappointing for anyone to not consider the utmost importance of Cales contribution in the making of those 2 seminal albums.

Cale was a child prodigy and it has been reported that he had composed his first piece at High School. He moved from Wales to study with minimalist composers in 1963 but hooked up with Reed and came into rock. He plays bass, guitar, various keyboards and viola. He is also a noted producer. Horses by Patti Smith or The Stooges anyone?
When listening to the first 2 VU albums the Viola drone and pounding keys add a sense of minimalist adventure and experimentalism to the music that was a rare commodity in rock of the time. What I have found profoundly odd about his solo work, thus consequently attractive, is the odd mix of standard composition in pop that at times takes in avant-garde changes that in the end would not be attractive to those that are more, shall we say, mainstream in listening but at times far too mainstream for those that, shall we say, are dismissive of the more friendly melodic song. Be that as it may he can still put together some amazingly left field albums when he has the inclination. Music For A New Society comes instantly to mind. His last couple of albums, Hobo Sapiens and Black Acetate, are as good as anything that he has produced outside of VU and I would suggest he has shown a few younger bands, that are more popular than they should be in comparison, a thing or two in song composition and album construction. But he is a bloke in his mid 60's now and the world is for the young even if older music listeners like me may not understand that.

JayJamJah asked as to how I felt about the solo career of Cale when compared to Reed. I have a strange musical relationship with Reed. I consider him an at times brilliant songwriter. The VU albums, even the ones without Cale stand the test of time and are brilliant. As a young man I first heard Reed via Walk On The Wild Side and then Transformer. I had a few of his early albums and generally liked them but I had the misfortune to see him live at Brisbane's Festival Hall in 1977 and he had the tough luck to follow the night after a spellbinding live performance by Osibisa and he was tame and lame in comparison. I did not look into his solo material again until a couple of years back. This was unfair in hindsight but at 17 one is prone to be this intransigent. As of late I have been replaying his music and have gained a new appreciation. In fact I am thinking of giving him the same treatment as Cale if anyone's interested. But in answer to the question as to where they stand I am a Cale fan first and foremost but it would be wrong of me to suggest that Reed has not had a bigger impact as a solo artist. Reed can fill a large hall and appear as a headliner at Festivals etc where as Cale is unable to follow that. Cale being a bit more diverse in style and delivery has not the impact that Reeds best work, Say Transformer and Coney Island Baby that were focused rock albums, have had. I have noticed that Reed has become more experimental with age and as reviewed I rate Songs For Drella as an excellent album. I noticed that Reed has even produced an ambient album. That should make interesting listening.

For those that have not heard or read of VU's impact I recommend a crash course and after an appreciation is gained take time to listen to some Cale as he is a unique musician who is worth giving time to. If I was to recommend some of his albums I would suggest The Island Years compilation, the highly avant garde Music For A new Society, Wrong Way Up and one of the two recent releases, either Hobo sapiens of Black Acetate. If he performs live in your town go just out of curiosity as you will be seeing one of the most influential artistes in music ever.

I hope that this has not been too long and boring but if it has I doubt anyone go this far.
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Old 11-13-2008, 01:38 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Good work. I really enjoyed following the thread.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:54 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Big bump. Praise be to blog world. I have found an album of Cales that passed me by. I have been giving it a good play over the last couple of weeks.

Honi Soit. 1981.



Dead Or Alive
opens and we are treated to a vintage Cale song. Wonderful trumpet to start with Cale's singing at a peak. Good Guitar work along with solid rhythm make this a fine and melodic start. Excellent song. Strange Times In Casablanca follows and has Cale's talk/sing voice ripping through a rocker with synth sounds swishing away. Cale's career is littered with songs like this, lyrics that demand a listen, a standard rock beat and synth washes that give that slight experimental feel.
Fighter Pilot has female backing vocals with some sturdy lead guitar in the background. Wilson Joliet is Cale presenting his forte, a background viola drone and his plaintive then aggressive vocals with the usual odd lyrics that give him and edge over others of his vintage. Streets of Loredo is the only non Cale composition and is a Country folk standard given the Avant treatment.
Title track Honi Soit (La première Leçon De Français) has French lyrics and has a catchy chorus though odd male backing vocals. The interesting thing for this reviewer is that the song is seemingly a nod to the future in that it would not have been out of place on Hobo Sapiens or Black Acetate. Damn good song this.
Riverbank brings the tone back as we get a slow melancholy track.
Russian Roulette has one of those lyrics that has attracted me to Cale.

Well Delilah is your [envy flowing?]
Samson's shorn and hoarse
With fifty caliber bullets
For the [trutches??] in the human race
Japan, Japan, Japan, we love you
They carve you like Californian turkey
Feed to hungry missiles sucking
The moist vagina of the world
Leave it


This song rocks along and has fine guitar work that is both chunky and rhythmic. Cales mixes his singing and his speaking and just occasionally slurs his words and gets a bit of grunt into it.
Magic and Lies finishes with a melodic tune consisting of thumping piano, odd time changes and the usual enigmatic lyric.

This is a good album. It is probably just a rung below the Island years albums and the last 2 studio albums. It has the usual "problem" of being too experimental for those that are not of that ilk and the reverse for those that are. This makes Cale for me the most enigmatic of artists.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:16 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Great writing. I would have liked to have seen your take on Sabotage/Live, though.
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:13 AM   #29 (permalink)
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John Cale is my favorite musician and I never understood why he's never reached a wider audience. It's great to read reviews of Cale's work by someone who understands his huge signficance as artist.

A good album for new listeners is Songs for a Rainy Season which may be the best live album I've ever heard. It's just Cale playing solo and the album showcases his strengths as a songwritter, vocalist and pianst.



I saw Cale live for the first time when he released Honi Soit which is his most lividly uncomfortable album besides Fear. It's a lost jewel in the Cale catalog. I also admire the fact that Cale remained a friend and musical associate of Nico's long after everyone else had written her off as a hopeless junkie. I saw Nico perform in 1980 a few years prior to her death in 1988 and despite her legendary heroin excesses, she could still walk on a stage and mezmerize an audience.

My favorite Cale song is Dying on the Vine. Cale has said that Dying on the Vine is the one song he couldn't escape.. It's an autobiographical song in which Cale is ruthlessly self critical about his own decandent lifestyle. Notice Nick Cave at the other piano in this lineup in the video below.

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Old 12-07-2009, 08:10 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Bump. I remembered this thread after coming into possession of a couple of new Cale albums and I also picked up a DVD at a very nice price. I rarely read so much music criticism nowadays as I am less prone to care what people think about music that I like. Be that as it may I am rather proud of this thread as I wrote some nice words and thought that I would add my latest finds.

I am not sure if Almauro contributes any more but thanks for the request. I will try and secure the album and let you know what I think. Also the same to Gavin B. Gavin B I have come across a DVD of Songs for a Rainy Season that on a couple of plays so far I am loving. I intend to give it a few more plays over the next week or two and will post a review.

I will have to also play both 1985's Artificial Intelligence and 1991 Even Cowgirls Get The Blues a few more times before commenting. I have also found a Peel Sessions, an album called John Cale and Strings Concert 92 Art Munich Project though these are not listened to as yet.

Any works of Cale that I own or have heard are reviewed on this thread or mentioned in this post. All others I have not heard. If anyone comes across links in their blog travels and would be so kind as to direct me via PM, I will be most grateful.
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