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Old 12-07-2009, 07:23 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Excellent thread 4ZZZ,

Ive had a good re listen to Paris 1919 off the back of it, have to say I think this album is very underrated in the grand scheme of things, its tremendous.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:25 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TheCellarTapes View Post
Excellent thread 4ZZZ,

Ive had a good re listen to Paris 1919 off the back of it, have to say I think this album is very underrated in the grand scheme of things, its tremendous.
^I just found your old The Cramps thread and couldn't believe I ever missed it. The same goes for you 4zzz, fantastic thread! I've really never gotten into much John Cale, but I've wanted to for a while. I did, however, end-up with Songs For Drella, which I thought was a pretty good album.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:06 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Good to see this thread bumped/back in action again. I've been on many a musical adventure over the last year but, despite my post on page 1, I kinda forgot to go on that hunt for John Cale albums that I mentioned. In fact, I think it's been at least four or five years since I last heard a single song of his. As such, I've enjoyed glancing over your reviews again, particularly the Paris 1919 one - it was the only Cale album I ever had which I've long since lost my copy of, and one I have very vague memories of that your review brought back.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is you've done a great job with this here thread 4ZZZ. Looking forward to the next update.
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Old 12-14-2009, 03:33 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Excuse the corny video footage I've embedded below, but this Cale version of Hallelujah is brilliant. Cale has recorded at least two other versions of this song....one is at a slower dirge-like tempo and on another session he added a string section.

This version I've embedded is my favorite rendition because of the sparse beauty of Cale's plaintive voice and his forceful but ornate piano playing. Cale's gifts as a piano player are underappreciated. Cale has been singing the once obscure Cohen song for nearly three decades... long before the current crop of vocalists discovered the lyrical magic of the song.

The song's composer Leonard Cohen's version of Hallelujah is a guarded and modest understatement compared to Jeff Buckley's effusive and spine tingling version which comes close to being a histrionic overstatement. I also have a recording of an Imogen Heap's acapella version of Hallelujah. Imogen's version is haunting but she cuts the song short after singing only two verses and it sounds like an unfinished project.

There's probably 100 other covers of Hallelujah out there, but the Cohen, Buckley, Heap and Cale versions are the real standouts. You'd have to be a masochist to suffer through versions of Hallelujah by a legion of singers like kd lang, Il Divo, Allison Crowe, Rufus Wainwright, Damien Rice, Bon Jovi, Amanda Jenssen (American Idol), Regina Spektor, the Roches, the Silent Monks and the rest of the usual musical suspects, just to prove to me that a better version of the song exists. Be my guest... It's seems that everybody and their uncle is doing a cover version of Hallelujah these days. Stay tuned for a Celine Dion version.

Buckley's version is dazzling and a formidable interpretation of Hallelujah . Many people mistakenly think Buckley (not Cohen) wrote the song because of the widespread recognition of his version of the song on the album Grace. A lot fewer people have heard Cale's version which trumps even the glories of celebrated Buckley version. I heard the Cale version long before Buckley version was recorded. Early on, I was under the spell of the Buckley version and Buckley's rendering almost eclipsed my devotion the Cale version. However there was a point in time when I returned to playing the Cale version and rediscovered my undying passion for his version. The Cale recording of Hallelujah is the one I'd run to rescue, if my house were burning down in the middle of the night.

Buckley's pristine voice was capable of leaping octaves over, under and around Cale's vocal range, but it's Cale who really owns the song like no one else. Buckley's version draws the listener's attention to the beauty and range of his singing voice while Cale's version directs the attention of the listener to the beauty of Cohen's lyric and music. And as Frank Sinatra once said, a good vocalist showcases the song, not his voice.

Cale's rendition is one the most soulful renditions of a song I've ever heard.



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Old 12-27-2009, 04:11 PM   #35 (permalink)
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yo, gavin b....have a listen. Index of /John Cale/Sabotage Live CBGB's 1979. I'll have it up for the next couple of days.
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:59 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Church Of Anthrax. 1971.




This is a collaboration with minimalist composer Terry Reilly. Consisting of 5 songs in total this was no doubt what the more avant garde/experimentalist fans of Cale were after as the VU days that had not long passed were still a strong memory. This is an album that is rather unique in my Cale listening, in fact if I had been given the opening track blind I would have thought that I was listening to a jazzy jam by say someone of Keith Emersons ilk. The opening track is the title track Church Of Anthrax and is a rather jazz oriented 9 minute improvisation of keyboards and saxophone. Late into the song the familiar drones of Cales VU and earlier days appear and make this a chunky opener. The Hall Of Mirrors In The Palace At Versailles follows and having visited this wondrous room I for the life of me had never imagined that this was a tune that would somehow suit the ambience. Be that as it may it is a nice piece with minimalist piano under a free form sax. I am reminded of something that Nyman may have composed from his soundtrack work for a Peter Greenaway movie. The Soul Of Patrick Lee is a vocal pop song that is an odd change of direction considering the non pop/rock nature of the 2 previous songs. This may have been better on a Cale solo album considering that he headed in the direction of Pop with several of his 1970's recordings. Ides Of March follows and normal service is resumed. Chunky piano and off beat drum start out and end this 11 minute song. To me there is an almost ragtime feel to this song though in a thoroughly modern and minimalist kind of way. I like the drumming as it compliments without being overbearing. We finish with a short 3 minute track called The Protege with the piano the prominent instrument and the drums keeping a good beat.

This is a minimalists dream and I suspect that those of the progressive jazz ilk will be impressed as well. Considering that Cale and Reilly both play keyboards, the most prominent being the piano I am presuming that they are duelling as most of the time there are two playing as counter points. Reilly also plays the Sax with Cale playing his trusty viola. A good album for the progressively inclined.
i feel like all the songs on this album sound like they could go on forever. pure awesome.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:31 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Fragments For A Rainy Season DVD. 1992

Though not strictly an album a review of this is warranted.



A live album recording from Cales European tour of 1992 with this concert in Brussels. There is also a CD of the same name from 1992 available with 20 tracks as opposed to this that has 16. As I have stated often live recordings are generally fan fodder but any admirers of the great Cale would be doing themselves a huge injustice not to track down this. This has many fine songs with Cales voice in fine form and his piano playing, to my ears and eyes, superb. Some could also accuse this of being just another best of set done acoustically but this holds no water with me. I have always liked artists striping back their songs to the bare bones as it gives us the listener, a chance to see of the songs stand up. Cales songs being of a compositional nature do.

It is Cale who has claimed in interviews that he is a composer as opposed to a song writer. There are those that could ask what the difference is but it is watching him perform various songs from his and other repertoires and how he can manipulate them in an entirely differing manner that stands out in my opinion. As an example it is hard to imagine say Thunderstruck being anything other than a rock song in the key of E whereas Fear and Paris 1919, so admirably performed on here in a stripped back manner with just voice and piano, show that Cale is a seriously good composer with the songs transformed. Fear I might add has Cale giving his piano an almighty clunking thrashing at the end as he screams the lyric in a startling manner.
All bar three of the songs presented are with voice and piano with 3 others covered with an Acoustic Guitar. As well as Fear and Paris 1919 other stand out songs are Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Cordoba, the sublimely brilliant (I Keep A) Close Watch and a splendid cover of Cohen's Hallelujah. See Gavin B's previous post. I agree with his sentiments 100%. This song is made for Cale's vocal and to quote Gavin B "Cale's version directs the attention of the listener to the beauty of Cohen's lyric and music. And as Frank Sinatra once said, a good vocalist showcases the song, not his voice."

For the fan an excellent DVD to add to their collection. Highly recommended.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:44 AM   #38 (permalink)
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"uh uh uh uh oh uh uh oh! She doesn't live here any more" sings Cale in his distinctive and under appreciated voice at the end of the opening track, Catastrofuc off Extra Playful, an EP that was released in September 2011. This track was played one morning, while I was driving to work, on my favourite radio station. The moment the vocal started I knew it was Cale. This had to be new as the production values were rather contemporary to his recording style circa Black Acetate.

"John Cales latest" said the presenter. But it was not and I had missed it's release by several months? Why?

Well to be frank, in fact lets be brutal, I hardly read the music press and steer clear, generally, of music opinion. At this stage in my life, I could not care that what some 15 year old Floridian Fraudsters, some headstrong Hamburg Hipsters, some limited London Lunatics nor some Pitchfork ponce has to say about what I like or dislike.

Be that as it may I did write some nice stuff on here and any new one from Cale deserves a mention for those that care.

catastrofuc is a good song and is not out of place in Cale's pantheon of songs that make an impact. Whaddya Mean by That? is typical of the slowish ballads that Cale produces at will. I think that this would have been better with just Cale with voice and Piano. The song is melodically good enough to be stripped back.

Hey Ray is Cale at his daring best. I first heard this track when he performed it live on his Circus Circus tour and announced it as a homage to the paranoid Ray of his acquaintance from his VU days. Sister Ray? He did not say/sing "She's busy sucking on my ding-dong" but does sing "Hey Ray your driving me crazy" and proceeds to give it to Ray (verbally) about the 60's being "all over". This is a great song. A piss take with a talk talk beat and a catchy chorus. "It's all over Ray"! This Ray is an artist by the name of Ray Johnson. Not a transvestite. Cale is a superb music man. Not a bleeding heart.

Pile a L’heure has our man almost going Air, as in French synth pop Air. Slow funk air, Exactly on Time? not like me. Just like a Watch repair shop in Lyon? Google that. Good song.

Perfection finishes the EP with a strong tune that starts darkly with a solid bass and head nodding beat. As usual Cale has that ability to turn a rock guitar sound pop and vice versa.

I have made a search and this is supposed to be a forerunner to an album that is in the works for next year. Cale is now 70 years old and is still producing vital music. There are no formulaic process for those that like order. He has gone from one style to another and some may not like that. Stiff I say. May Cale make music until he is 170.
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:41 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Great write-up on Paris 1919 this is a great album that I still put on now and again and really enjoy.
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:26 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Across the years, John Cale`s music has hopped around from one genre to another, so this is a great thread for getting to know his rather daunting discography. I thought I`d give it a bump, to mention two albums:-

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ZZZ View Post
Church Of Anthrax. 1971.




This is a collaboration with minimalist composer Terry Reilly. Consisting of 5 songs in total this was no doubt what the more avant garde/experimentalist fans of Cale were after as the VU days that had not long passed were still a strong memory. This is an album that is rather unique in my Cale listening, in fact if I had been given the opening track blind I would have thought that I was listening to a jazzy jam by say someone of Keith Emersons ilk. The opening track is the title track Church Of Anthrax and is a rather jazz oriented 9 minute improvisation of keyboards and saxophone. Late into the song the familiar drones of Cales VU and earlier days appear and make this a chunky opener. The Hall Of Mirrors In The Palace At Versailles follows and having visited this wondrous room I for the life of me had never imagined that this was a tune that would somehow suit the ambience. Be that as it may it is a nice piece with minimalist piano under a free form sax. I am reminded of something that Nyman may have composed from his soundtrack work for a Peter Greenaway movie. The Soul Of Patrick Lee is a vocal pop song that is an odd change of direction considering the non pop/rock nature of the 2 previous songs. This may have been better on a Cale solo album considering that he headed in the direction of Pop with several of his 1970's recordings. Ides Of March follows and normal service is resumed. Chunky piano and off beat drum start out and end this 11 minute song. To me there is an almost ragtime feel to this song though in a thoroughly modern and minimalist kind of way. I like the drumming as it compliments without being overbearing. We finish with a short 3 minute track called The Protege with the piano the prominent instrument and the drums keeping a good beat.

This is a minimalists dream and I suspect that those of the progressive jazz ilk will be impressed as well. Considering that Cale and Reilly both play keyboards, the most prominent being the piano I am presuming that they are duelling as most of the time there are two playing as counter points. Reilly also plays the Sax with Cale playing his trusty viola. A good album for the progressively inclined.
^ I think 4ZZZ should have laid more stress on this album, as being an absolute stand-out in JC`s work. With the exception of one track, it`s an instrumental album of gloriously ramshackle playing, with so much going on that the "minimalist" tag is pretty misleading. Yes, there are insistent rhythmic piano phrases, but they always maintain a brisk pace and the overall impression is of two musicians so enjoying the collaborative experience that they are hardly listening to what the other guy is playing. Track after track bounces along as JC or TR swap from electric organ to honky-tonk piano to sax to give a change of tone to these long, exuberant workouts.
Whatever merits the one vocal track has, here in the middle of Church of Anthrax it sticks out like a dog`s bollocks, if you`ll forgive the expression. It really should`ve been put on another album because it`s a complete mood-breaker, in a stlye alien to the rest of the album.

Quite why JC didn`t make more albums like Church of Anthrax is a mystery to me. (The closest I could find on other albums were the tracks Philosopher and Days Of Steam.)




Walking On Locusts (1996)

After almost a decade of silence, JC released this album, which no-one has mentioned yet. It features JC, the cryptic crooner of his own quirky style of sombre pop.
The opener, Dancing Undercover is a catchy, loping song about a trip to New Orleans or Mexico which closes with a few bars of sweet and satisfying violin.
Unfortunately, the album tails off after that imo. There are some agreeable, mellow songs that seem to be lamenting past relationships, most obviously on So Much For Love . Most of the songs are easy on the ear, but unadventurous; best title award goes to Indistinct Notion Of Cool which perhaps indicates what JC wanted to achieve with this subdued album; capture a kind of wry resignation. There is a track, Crazy Egypt , co-written with David Byrne, which is a lot livelier, but as with most of the album, the lyrics don`t make much sense and if you`re waiting for a hook line, then your wait will be in vain. Songs seem to be full of oblique references to events at which we weren`t present; lyrics that only John Cale understands, and ultimately, I suspect, only JC is interested in.
If you `re stuck indoors on a rainy afternoon, this album might quietly lift your spirits for a while, but for me it remains, to copy a phrase from Goofle, "pleasantly boring."
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