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John Cale - Slow Dazzle CD (album) cover


John Cale


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2.71 | 21 ratings

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2 stars SLOW DAZZLE contains a couple of first-rate songs, a couple of interesting ones, and a lot of second-rate material. In that respect it's similar to the studio albums John Cale has been releasing during the past ten years.

In my view, "Guts", "Mr Wilson" and "I'm not the Loving Kind" are all first rate songs. The first is probably the strongest rocker Cale has ever released (and definitely the bleakest); the second is an exquisite ballad which sounds like an escapee from the masterly PARIS 1919; and the third is an overly lush ballad on the subject of sexual impotence. (It opens with these lyrics, exquisitely intoned: "When my lady passes me by, I lose the love I thought I had in mind....")

If you happen to have a John Cale compilation which features all three of the above-mentioned tracks, you need not bother with the rest of the album. You could buy THE ISLAND YEARS, of course, a two-disc set which combines SLOW DAZZLE with all of FEAR and HELEN OF TROY, both of which are superior. As a collection, THE ISLAND YEARS really can't be faulted, especially since it contains some first-rate bonus material.

Anyway, you will probably want to hear Cale's notorious cover version of "Heartbreak Hotel", but the piano-and-voice-only version on FRAGMENTS OF A RAINY SEASON is far more chilling than SLOW DAZZLE's Grang Guignol performance. Nevertheless, "Heartbreak Hotel" (as played here) is what I'd call one of the "interesting" tracks, together with "The Jeweller", which is really no more than a Poe-esque horror story, read out by Cale in his lugubrious Welsh accent.

The remainder of the album is throwaway pop. I've always assumed Cale was trying to make a commercial album at the time. However, by including at least three tracks on scary or unsavoury subjects he immediately sank his own ship. And a good thing too, since this allowed him to become a mentor to Patti Smith and the entire punk/New Wave movement.

fuxi | 2/5 |


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