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John Cale Vintage Violence album cover
3.38 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hello There (2:44)
2. Gideon's Bible (3:21)
3. Adelaide (2:19)
4. Big White Cloud (3:29)
5. Cleo (2:33)
6. Please (4:17)
7. Charlemagne (4:59)
8. Bring It On Up (2:22)
9. Amsterdam (3:12)
10. Ghost Story (3:46)
11. Fairweather Friend (2:29)

Total Time: 35:31

Bonus tracks on 2001 remaster:
12. Fairweather Friend (alternate version) (2:35)
13. Wall (outtake - instrumental) (6:07)

Line-up / Musicians

- John Cale / vocals, guitar, keyboards, composer (excl. 11 & 12), arranger & conductor (4), co-producer

- Ernie Corallo / guitar
- Garland Jeffreys / guitar, backing vocals
- Stan Szelest / piano
- Harvey Brooks / bass
- Sanford Konikoff / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Isi Valeris (photo)

LP Columbia ‎- CS 1037 (1970, US)
LP Columbia ‎- CS 1037 (2014, US)

CD Edsel Records ‎- ED CD 230 (1988, UK)
CD Columbia ‎- CK 65935 (2001, US) Remastered by Darcy Proper with 2 bonus outtakes from the album sessions, previously unreleased

Thanks to snobb for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JOHN CALE Vintage Violence ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

JOHN CALE Vintage Violence reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars < ugly title, ugly cover, ugly album>

Out of the psychedelic 60's came one band I never cared for, because they were more about attitude and artsy-fartsy than musical. If The Velvet Underground appears to be groundbreaking still today, it's partly because of the Andy Warhol tutelage and the presence of uber-model (and then chanteuse) Nico, but also because of a certain kind of minimalism, mostly induced because all but one musicians were actually quite crappy at their respective instruments, the exception being the classically-trained Welshman John Cale. After this group's slow gradual demise, Lou Reed would be the first to return to fame, John Cale never really seeking the spotlight anymore. Actually Cale had already left VU and already had produced a highly-acclaimed album for VU's ex-chanteuse Nico. His first solo album is anything but a good hint at his talent. Behind this ugly shot on the cover, the disc contains absolutely nothing worth remembering if you're a proghead, despite having some kind of (dubious) concept hinted in the lengthy liner notes.

This debut album is more like a collection of short, (all but two are under the 4-mins mark) mainly commercial or radio-friendly tunes aimed at America (rather than the UK), often having a slight country rock (Please and many more) tinge and at others showing a certain Beatles influence (Adelaide). The only track escaping the ugliness of the album is the enthusiastic Ghost Story track, even if ending in a maelstrom of white noise

Best avoided, unless you're a fan of the Lone Welshman, but this is not to say that will be true for all of his future, starting with the upcoming Anthrax collaboration.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This is possibly one of the most ironically titled albums in the history of rock. I can remember contemplating buying Vintage Violence long ago. I knew Cale had spent a couple years with the rough and cynical Velvet Underground, he was producing equally cutting-edge urban artists such as Nico and Iggy Pop, and he had a reputation for noisy avant-garde experiments. Surely this album of his was harsh, jaded, dissonant and possibly somewhat painful; ...wrong! Quite the opposite, instead John gives us beautiful relaxed pastoral tunes with sentimental personal lyrics framed in folksy instruments such as acoustic guitar and piano, as well as plaintive pedal steel guitar and orchestral strings.

If you like singer/songwriter albums that eschew technical instrumental virtuosity in favor of heart searching lyrics and unforgettable melodies that make those lyrics hard to escape, then this album is for you. On a level with Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom and some of Stevie Wonder's most personal revelations, this album contains my favorite collection of folk/rock tunes, a genre I don't normally listen to at all.

There is a mature recollective nature about this album that defies Cale's young age at the time. He seems to be on a mountaintop surveying a lifetime of bitter sweet experiences, but I suppose a few years with the likes of Lou Reed and Andy Warhol could give someone a crash course in emotional aging. The sentimental longing that haunts many of these pieces likewise seems to come from a much older person, at a very early age John has found there is a price to pay for jaded experience and other worldly knowledge.

Along with the mellow reflective material there are also a few 'rockin' tunes that suggest someone who longs to have a few pints with local mates and maybe look up an old girlfriend, once again the overall effect of these bar room piano driven numbers is more sentimental than all out rock.

This album perfectly captures the mood of someone who feels like they have taken in a bit too much and now they feel a need to pull back and reflect on all the good and bad they have experienced, and likewise, they are bringing everything home by reconnecting with simple emotional longings.

Review by Rune2000
3 stars Interesting to see so few but highly mixed opinions about John Cale's solo debut album and so I should probably add balance to the debate with my take on Vintage Violence!

Cale made quite a name for himself as a member of the Velvet Underground where he managed to associate his presence with highly controversial avant-garde experimentation that he depicted on now renowned The Velvet Underground & Nico and its even more experimental followup White Light/White Heat. After leaving the band it was only a matter of time until Cale would bounce back into music, but was Vintage Violence actually the album that the audience expected of his debut album?

To say that the album is a departure from the Velvet Underground sound would be an understatement because despite the very avant-garde-looking album cover this is actually a very accessible album comprised entirely of fun little pop tunes. Still, it wouldn't be fair to dismiss Vintage Violence as just a simple pop album of its time since John Cale definitely adds his own unique approach to the music of the time. The material is very mixed featuring everything from straightforward rock arrangements, like on the opening tune Hello There, low-key acoustic guitar-driven ballads like Amsterdam and even stretches to sounds of Country on Bring It On Up!

Even if there are a few questionable choices made on a couple occasions these missteps can be attributed to the fact that this was Cale's debut album and it definitely didn't take him long to find his own unique style which already began forming here. My favorite compositions are the two slower performances titled Gideon's Bible and Ghost Story. It's actually pretty interesting to hear how much of a difference of style these pieces have between themselves although both have that great moody sense in their arrangements that can only be attributed to the artist in charge.

Vintage Violence is a joyful little debut album from the Velvet Underground-mastermind John Cale. It might not be his most experimental 35 minutes of material but you'll probably be too busy swept by these great tunes to notice that!

***** star songs: Gideon's Bible (3:21) Ghost Story (3:46)

**** star songs: Hello There (2:44) Adelaide (2:19) Cleo (2:33) Charlemagne (4:59) Bring It On Up (2:22) Amsterdam (3:12) Fairweather Friend (2:29)

*** star songs: Big White Cloud (3:29) Please (4:17)

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ex Velvet Underground man John Cale released this debut in 1970 and generally the album is a mellow mix fo great songs with catchy melodies. " Hello there" such a clever opener with excellent piano and beatles like vocals. Very upbeat and positive not unlike some psychedlic Caravan elements." Gideon's Bible" a great follow on which smacks of a musician well ahead of his times. " Adelaide" a nostalgic kick back ot younger times. He seems to have an affinity with the Southern Hemisphere, reference Paris 1919. Great harmonica too. It is wrong to compare his music to other artists but this album reminds this reviewer of Al Stewart. It has that optimistic bouyancy about it. The highlight of the album is the beautiful " Big White Cloud", lovely bass and just seems to march on forever, the days of a 1000 summers perhaps.

The albums continues to remain convincing " Please" being another great tune. There is something addictive about Cale's voice, whilst not the best around it has it's very own unique style. " Amsterdam" could be referring to Nico, I am not sure but is great nevertheless. There seems divided opinions on Cales debut. It is strongly recommended, richly rewarding musically and strongly indicative of this man's great talents. It is clear Velvet Underground would never have outlived him.Or put it another way, he squeezed the best out of them and moved on. Four stars!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Good album, nice sound, a remembrance of the Velvet Underground vein, almost indiscernible, but there is... Actually i was pretty tired about listen albums from Cale, that was already almost shelving, and as Zappa i was bored to that, an album after another, and nothing good or convincent, lis ... (read more)

Report this review (#244809) | Posted by Diego I | Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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