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John Cale biography
John Davies Cale - Born March 9, 1942 (Garnant, Wales, UK)

John spoke a southern dialect of Welsh during his early childhood (his grandmother's dialect) and did not learn English until he attended school at the age of seven. In 1963 Cale moved to the U.S. so he could study composition and become involved in NYC's vibrant avant-garde music scene. Befriended by famous composers such as John Cage and Aaron Copland, it wasn't long before John was involved in projects and performances such as the first full length version of Erik Satie's 18 hour Vexations. From 63 to 65 Cale performed with LaMont Young in their ensemble Dream Syndicate, possibly one of the first groups to combine serious concert hall sensibilities with rock influenced volume and casual presentation. Their loud droning minimalism still sounds modern to this day.

In 1965 Cale helped form the Velvet Underground, one of the first rock groups to be influenced by the avant-garde and minimalism. Although VU would later settle on being a noisy garage rock band with clever song writing, when Cale was involved the band covered much more progressive and experimental territory. Cale's use of repeating minimalist figures, noise textures and droning hypnotic sounds place the early VU light years ahead of almost any rock band from that time period. To this day, Cale's early emphasis on sound and texture places him in the forefront of many musical innovations and styles from the late 70s to today.

In 1968 Cale left VU and began a lengthy solo career. At first his direction seemed split between artsy pop/rock albums such as Vintage Violence, and more attempts at concert hall composition and improvisation such as his highly successful collaboration with minimalist composer Terry Riley on their album Church of Anthrax. Finally John settled on art-rock and has only returned to serious composition for several movie scores in the 80s. Over a lengthy career Cale has produced over thirty albums and has collaborated with an all-star cast of fellow art-rockers including Robert Wyatt, Lou Reed, Phil Manzenera, Brian Eno and many others. John continues to perform and record his highly personal and emotionally moving songs and music to this day.

- Easy Money

See also: WiKi

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The Island YearsThe Island Years
Island Records 2006
$4.46 (used)
Wax Cathedral 2015
$10.06 (used)
Music For A New Society / M:FANS (2CD)Music For A New Society / M:FANS (2CD)
Domino Recording Co. 2016
$19.50 (used)
Honi SoitHoni Soit
Music on CD 2018
$8.20 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Dead City Radio by William S. Burroughs (CD,1995, Island) VG+ John Cale USD $5.79 Buy It Now
John Cale Dangereuse Sous Tous Rapports Blu Ray DVD French 3700301046574 USD $31.12 Buy It Now
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1h 18m
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KEVIN AYERS - JOHN CALE - ENO - NICO - JUNE1, 1974 - 12" VINYL LP USD $8.10 [2 bids]
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Lou Reed John Cale & Nico Batakuran 1972 Japan CD MSIG-907 Extra tracks OBI USD $26.99 Buy It Now 15h 2m
Seducing Down the Door: A Collection 1970-1990 by John Cale(2CD,Rhino) Brand New USD $47.50 Buy It Now 16h 5m
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JOHN CALE 5 Tracks SEALED 5 track CD ex Velvet Underground USD $6.00 Buy It Now 19h 6m
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21h 2m
cd JOHN CALE - CALE STREET GDR Hamburg 1983 USD $22.18 Buy It Now 21h 16m
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JOHN CALE Even Cowgirls Get The Blues JAPAN CD MECR-25015 1992 USD $62.05 Buy It Now 1 day
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JOHN CALE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

JOHN CALE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 23 ratings
Vintage Violence
4.29 | 46 ratings
John Cale & Terry Riley : Church Of Anthrax
3.48 | 19 ratings
The Academy In Peril
3.27 | 42 ratings
Paris 1919
3.33 | 25 ratings
2.71 | 18 ratings
Slow Dazzle
3.82 | 14 ratings
Helen Of Troy
3.39 | 12 ratings
Honi Soit
3.32 | 16 ratings
Music For A New Society
4.00 | 12 ratings
Caribbean Sunset
3.39 | 10 ratings
Artificial Intelligence
2.44 | 13 ratings
Words For The Dying
4.10 | 23 ratings
John Cale & Lou Reed: Songs For Drella
3.20 | 5 ratings
23 Solo Pieces For La Naissance De L'Amour (OST)
3.57 | 7 ratings
John Cale & Bob Neuwirth: Last Day On Earth
3.83 | 6 ratings
N'Oublie Pas Que Tu Vas Mourir (OST)
3.25 | 4 ratings
Antártida (OST)
3.10 | 12 ratings
Walking On Locusts
4.00 | 4 ratings
Le Vent De La Nuit (OST)
2.19 | 7 ratings
Dream Syndicate: Day Of Niagara
4.67 | 3 ratings
Saint-Cyr (OST)
4.01 | 19 ratings
Hobo Sapiens
3.17 | 10 ratings
Black Acetate
3.67 | 3 ratings
Process (OST)
3.07 | 8 ratings
Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood

JOHN CALE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.88 | 8 ratings
4.75 | 4 ratings
John Cale Comes Alive
3.75 | 4 ratings
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
4.18 | 9 ratings
Fragments of a Rainy Season
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live - Broken Hearts (Two Concerts In Germany 1984/1992)
4.23 | 4 ratings
Eat / Kiss Music For The Films Of Andy Warhol
4.00 | 3 ratings
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Unknown (soundtrack)
3.00 | 2 ratings
Le Bataclan '72 (with Lou Reed and Nico)
3.19 | 7 ratings
Circus Live

JOHN CALE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Fragments of a Rainy Season

JOHN CALE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 6 ratings
4.50 | 2 ratings
Paris S'eveille (Soundtrack)
4.13 | 5 ratings
Seducing Down The Door
4.13 | 4 ratings
The Island Years
4.09 | 3 ratings
Close Watch - An Introduction To John Cale
2.67 | 3 ratings
Sun Blindness Music
3.00 | 1 ratings
Inside the Dream Syndicate, Vol. 3: Stainless Steel Gamelan
3.00 | 1 ratings
Inside the Dream Syndicate, Vol. 2: Dream Interpretation

JOHN CALE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Man Who Couldn't Afford To...
4.00 | 1 ratings
Animal Justice
3.00 | 1 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Keep A Close Watch
0.00 | 0 ratings
Villa Albani
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ring Of Fire / Shuffle Down To Woodbridge / Merry Christmas (Brian Eno / John Cale / House Of Freaks)
4.00 | 1 ratings
Spinning Away (with Brian Eno)
0.00 | 0 ratings
More Fragments
4.50 | 2 ratings
5 Tracks
4.00 | 1 ratings
Turn The Lights On
4.00 | 1 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 John Cale & Terry Riley : Church Of Anthrax by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.29 | 46 ratings

John Cale & Terry Riley : Church Of Anthrax
John Cale Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In 1969 John McClure, the leader of CBS Masterworks, had a revolutionary idea to bring together these two figures from New York's avantgarde circles to make an album. The Welsh John Cale had naturally been in Velvet Underground, and Terry Riley had released his highly influential albums In C and A Rainbow in Curved Air that are connected to the minimalistic movement. The improvisation- based collaboration worked well until all of a sudden, during the mixing, Riley felt his ideas weren't taken seriously enough and bitterly walked out of the unfinished project. Before the album was finally released in 1971, Cale had already released his debut Vintage Violence.

The end result is however closer to the mentioned Riley works than anything Cale has ever since done as a solo artist. According to Cale he dug out the funk hidden in Riley's hypnotic patterns of organ and soprano saxophone. Whatever, this unique fusion of minimalism, experimental rock and free jazz is not as hard to digest as one could expect. There are three longer tracks between nearly eight and eleven minutes - my favourite is probably the title track - plus two short ones. The other of them, 'The Soul of Patrick Lee', is written by Cale only and features the vocals of Adam Miller. It feels somewhat out of place amidst the more innovative material. The album's total running time is approximately 33 minutes only, but that doesn't prevent it being an interesting work that has fully deserved its cult status. Esoteric Recordings' re-release features a detailed essay - and this little review is translated from my article on ER's numerous recent releases. Sorry to give very little information on how I personally was impressed by this album. I guess I like it to some degree but can live very well without it too. 3˝ stars rounded up for uniqueness and notable historical value.

 Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.07 | 8 ratings

Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood
John Cale Prog Related

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Flawless John Cale music!

There are albums that certainly are born under a good sign. This "Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood ", 2012, is one of those privileged efforts. Creative non stop, from start to finish, it shows a very mature, yet simple, songwriting. Simple not simplistic.

No "tour de force" or "spectacular" soloings or shoutings, no, John Cale's own aquired style is far from that kind of horseplay or market-wise strategies. He has never been and has had the guts to stay practically "underground" or un-mainstream to put it simply.

John Cale's music is closer to Rock n Roll troubadours like Bob Dylan or Lou Reed or Ray Davies than Peter Hammill or Peter Gabriel, for starters. He is highly creative, imaginative and a great lyricist, but still faraway of the "super-famous" and quiet cliched Prog music's idiosincracies. That is a fact!

A highly inspired songwriting, full of bright compositions (as opposed to its "dark" Art-cover), song by song, with astounding arrangements, energetic performances, full of subtle surprises, and a quiet playful John Cale at his best!

****4.5 "I guess not a prog-fanatic's dream, but it is still "Gold" for me!" PA stars.

 Fear by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.33 | 25 ratings

John Cale Prog Related

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

3 stars On Fear, Cale manages to create a deft mix of singer/songwriter, piano man-type midtempo rockers and ballads and a darker, more hard-edged and weirder chaotic energy that mucks about underneath the well-groomed surface, hoping to find a way out. Unfortunately, it's kept on too tight a leash for the most part, only occasionally making the full jump out into the open, leaving it mostly just teasingly rippling the surface.

Uncluttered, basic, earnest (if at times a bit sentimentally honeyed) and often bass-propelled underlying arrangements engages in flirtations with diversions into tingly, screechy, confrontational atonality, skewed guitar fun and mischievous keyboard patterns and effects. Given enough time, a few of the songs willingly start to disintegrate and blur the picture, wheezing and wailing their way towards chaos.

With all his artsy smartness, Cale still has a tendency to embrace a sweetly nostalgic melancholia with orchestrated and choir-enriched woolliness, but the dreamy or more down-to-earth soft touches retain a refreshing clarity and never really take over on Fear. Instead, raw energy and commanding directness clear the air in pleasing and regular intervals. That makes the cushioned and simple richness of tingly, dreamy, grandiloquent pop feel less saturated.

While obviously a proficient song-smith and writer of catchy, driving and engaging melodies using the simplest of means and the minimum of trappings, the music sadly and quickly wears itself a bit thin in a drudging no-man's-land of pseudo-edgy anonymity. That's not to say it's really bad in any way, but the feelings of familiarity, comfort and absent-mindedness that creep into the listening experience for me is a clear sign of the material lacking staying power and the ability to arouse some proper long time interest. Fear feels a bit stuck in the mud: never hook-laden, catchy or melodious enough to drag you in that way and never experimental and challenging enough to reward more adventurous listeners.

But it remains a decent enough chunk of slightly gnarled, efficient and diverse art rock. In the impossible-to-hate-impossible-to-love category.

3 stars.


 Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.07 | 8 ratings

Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood
John Cale Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Catching up to John Cale in the second decade of the 21st century (for me, after a long separation), we find the now seventy-year old troublemaker sporting pink highlights in his unruly mop of hair, and a hipster's mini-goatee on his graying chin. Too bad the music on his latest-to-date studio album doesn't share the same ageless spirit of rebel nonconformity.

Apparently winning an OBE (I almost wrote "earning an OBE", catching myself just in time) isn't the ideal stimulus to edgy songwriting. The backbeat on these dozen tracks is a little too basic and borderline techno for even my liberal tastes, and the melodies follow the same tired lead, providing an entirely featureless backdrop to a surprisingly underwhelming performance by Cale himself. What's missing is the passion and peril of his best work, that exhilarating sensation of clinging to a runaway freight train always about to jump its emotional rails.

With his voice pitched somewhere between the fading pipes of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, and too often leaning hard on awkward auto-tuned crutches (in the songs "December Rain", "Mothra", and elsewhere), Cale seems to be merely going through the motions here: a sad state of affairs for the same artist who once penned a song vividly titled "Dirtyass Rock 'n' Roll". Maybe he's only trying to keep pace with current trends in commercial music, collaborating with a producer who calls himself "Danger Mouse", and titling one song in silly texting shorthand ("I Wanna Talk 2 U"). Or maybe it's all part of a belated mid-life crisis. Either way, let's hope he finds a late-life second wind and remembers how to live dangerously again.

 Honi Soit by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.39 | 12 ratings

Honi Soit
John Cale Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The royal coat of arms that gave the album its title (quoting fully: Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense: Evil to Those Who Think It) was a nice ironic touch for a songwriter otherwise given to such malignant obsessions. But his 1981 LP is, in my own admittedly incomplete experience, one of John Cale's more accessible efforts, a fact that hardly compromises its quality or strength. Cale had already absorbed some of the energy and attitude of Punk Rock (see his previous "Sabotage/Live" album), and the same aggressive impulses continued into these sessions, filtered somewhat through a commercial sieve of 1980s New Wave marketability.

The album opener "Dead or Alive" is an atypically conventional rocker: John Cale crossed with Bruce Springsteen, maybe. But it doesn't take long for the old warhorse to begin scratching his usual wounds, and with a vengeance. The lyrically twisted "Strange Times in Casablanca", with its couples "sleeping in each other's mattresses / like maggots in despair", is actually one of the album's milder psychotic detours. Even more alarming is the schizophrenic free association of "Wilson Joliet", with Cale's voice ascending relentlessly toward an apotheosis of indescribable fury.

On the punchy title track the singer improvises non-sequiturs in schoolboy French over a heavy dance-floor backbeat, and because it's John Cale one of the phrases is of course "coup d'état" (mais oui, le voilŕ!) And no Cale album would be complete without a pathological cover song, in this case giving the cowboy ballad "Streets of Laredo" a moody New Wave facelift, perfectly suited to its morbid tale of a dead gunslinger ("...wrapped in white linen and cold as the grave") wandering the back trails of Texas.

The sharp sound of the album was the work of ace producer Mike Thorne, best known at the time for having applied his signature audio gloss to the angular art-punk of early Wire. Thorne provided similar guidance for Cale on this collaboration, keeping the Welshman on a tighter leash than usual while still allowing him room to prowl the darker shadows of his cage. The result was one of those rare albums that made us believe the '80s might not be so bad after all...a false hope, as it turned out, but don't blame this effort.

 Guts by CALE, JOHN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1977
5.00 | 6 ratings

John Cale Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm not entirely sold on the validity of a John Cale page here at ProgArchives, but this 1977 collection has some killer music no matter how you define it. Three of the songwriter's most representative albums from his mid-'70s creative peak were distilled (or gutted, if you prefer) into a rare five-star compilation album, without an ounce of fat or fluff.

Maybe the music is Progressive in a more literal sense of the word. Most of the songs here begin in a more or less rational frame of mind, but progressively lose their already tenuous hold on anything resembling sanity. The album's title track, excerpted from the 1975 "Slow Dazzle" LP, is a good example: in less than four minutes it drags the listener through a netherworld of parrot sh!t; parrot spit; piss that missed the pot; poison souls; and the singer's urgent encouragement to "kill all you want; make sure, do it right..."

We're a long way from the Heart of the Sunrise, in other words. And that's before the jaw-dropping dementia of "Leaving It Up To You", omitted from the 1975 album "Helen of Troy", possibly due more to Cale's delivery than his lyrical content. Or the nihilistic philosophy expressed in "Fear is a Man's Best Friend" and "Gun". Or the rape of Elvis Presley in the malevolent update of "Heartbreak Hotel", sung as if by an axe-murderer approaching an ecstasy of bloodlust.

Given the extremities of subject and style, even the Prog-Related label might seem like a stretch. But you can see the connection in Cale's choice of session players: Phil Manzanera, Brian Eno, Phil Collins (back when the Genesis drummer still had musical aspirations), and ace guitarist Chris Spedding, the latter not really a Prog artiste but certainly among friends. There are far more comprehensive Cale samplers on the market, spanning a wider cross-section of his larger career. But there's a tighter focus in the limited range of this album. A great song selection, strong performances, and a scary/funny iconic cover photo make it an essential package of truly great hits, most of them below the belt.

 Mercenaries by CALE, JOHN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.00 | 1 ratings

John Cale Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars On the sleeve it's advertised as "another cheap and nasty product". But this rare 45-rpm single is now something of a collector's item, and a novelty on any web site devoted to the pomp and nuance of Progressive Rock. The A-Side is an abbreviated studio alternative to the concert version of the same song opening the 1979 "Sabotage/Live" album, pitting the ex-Velvet Underground viola player against the insidious threat of Commie infiltration, from "the dirty old Belgian Congo" to ground zero Moscow.

Given a choice of allies between the combined military might of the Free World or John Cale, I'll take the guy in the hard hat playing guitar, every time. The song was the perfect vehicle for such an infamous agitator (see the "Animal Justice" EP), making an unspoken metaphoric connection between modern rock 'n' roll stardom and the life of a soldier of fortune. The singer growls and shrieks his way into the Kremlin with more raw vocal authority than PETER HAMMILL at his most unhinged, and no one can touch Cale in a reading of any lyric asking, "Are you ready for war?"

The B-Side presents a more experimental psychodrama, performed by JC alone on bass guitar and distorted electric piano, over the primitive chatter of an old rhythm box. The song was later memorably covered by the goth-rockers of Bauhaus, but the original is quintessential John Cale, with obscure stream-of-consciousness lyrics rhyming "sores" with "whores"...probably the first words that came into his fevered mind at the time.

It was later added to the "Sabotage/Live" CD, as a bonus track. But the title track is MIA, the master tapes reportedly lost, or possibly confiscated at some remote Third World border crossing. So hold on to that precious 7" disc of vinyl with the oversized hole (as I did); when played loud enough it may be your best defense against the Red Menace.

 Animal Justice by CALE, JOHN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
4.00 | 1 ratings

Animal Justice
John Cale Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars John Cale needed to be in the ProgArchives database like he needed "a hole in the head", quoting a lyric from the lead track off his notorious 1977 EP. Look at the cover photo; listen to the song "Chicken Shit"; and try to imagine a more unsuitable candidate for a website celebrating the finer points of Progressive Rock.

A fascinating backstory only underlines the non-Prog appeal of the song. Cale wrote it to mock the rent-a-punk poseurs who reacted with such outrage after the singer beheaded a chicken on stage and tossed the dismembered carcass into the crowd (the bird was already dead, by the way). It was an admittedly crass but effective act of true Punk subversion, probably aimed at showing a tough audience just how tame they actually were.

The foreground is all driving rhythms, aggressive guitars, and a more-or-less typically deranged vocal performance by Cale. But it's the hilarious background chatter that brings the song to life, transforming a tasteless piece of confrontational theatre into something closer to social satire. Would any Prog (or even Prog Related) rocker ever contemplate taking a meat cleaver to a chicken corpse, just to make a point? Very, very doubtful...

Elsewhere on the EP the song "Memphis" does to Chuck Berry what Cale had earlier done to Elvis in his adaptation of "Heartbreak Hotel", injecting a rock 'n' roll roots classic with a lethal dose of late-'70s proto-Punk rage and paranoia. But it's the nearly 8-minute B-Side (longer than the two A-Side tracks combined) that will likely capture the attention of any true Proghead: a slow, menacing ballad titled after the Henrik Ibsen protagonist "Hedda Gabbler". Even on a tighter leash than usual Cale can still work up a head of dramatic steam, and with a more imaginative drummer the song might almost have been described as symphonic.

The entire EP was appended to the "Sabotage/Live" compact disc. But as any audiophile with a working turntable can tell you, some music needs to be heard on vintage 12-inch vinyl, dust pops and scratches included.

 Paris 1919 by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.27 | 42 ratings

Paris 1919
John Cale Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars On Paris 1919 John Cale offers up a disparate range of songs in a range of styles that collectively evoke an air of mildly wistful nostalgia but otherwise don't seem to have very much in common. Those who know him as Lou Reed's guitar sparring partner and teller of tall tales from the Velvet Underground may find the album disappointingly conventional, and indeed it seems to consciously balance Cale's art rock aspirations against a rather bland production - and whenever the two are in tension, blandness wins. Perhaps this is the right place to start with Cale if your musical diet to date has been unchallenging soft rock, but for those who are used to a little more zing in their music it's likely to be a snore-fest.
 Hobo Sapiens by CALE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.01 | 19 ratings

Hobo Sapiens
John Cale Prog Related

Review by ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Cale is a f**king elitist. He did not like the people he was playing for. He's Welsh, and they're all nasty bastards (Nat Finkelstein)

Notwithstanding the repugnant racist bile of a bitchy little fag photographer poisoned by the pollutants from Andy Warhol's Junkie Factory, the tracers of paranoid disdain linger, like those 'stubborn hard to shift' stains on Cale's spattered hockey goaltender's mask. (he's always been a reluctant defender, resentful of his failure to cut it as an attacker) Deep at the heart of this ubermodernist iconoclast, there is a conservative nugget of kryptonite classicism, so wherever John negotiates to at any given time, he's slumming it and it's our fault see?.

The witty title is purportedly sourced from an article Cale wrote about Bob Dylan but there is scant evidence that the latter has any particular relevance to what's on offer here. We encounter instead, the recognizable tread of the Beta Band and the mosey of a Beck, but where the nostril hemorrhaging Grand Guignol of Sabotage or protopunk of Animal Justice are absent, supplanted instead by the heavily anchored claustrophobia of hip hop, mutated electronica and that mordant glacial baritone summoning forth ghosts that are reassuringly ancient but unnervingly close. The foregoing cannot be construed as Punk's absent godfather having necessarily mellowed, it's just he's always known aggression is unsustainable and like his acrimonious divorce from a chemical reality, subject to the law of diminishing returns. (or what the EMI suits would have equated to sales boyo) Jimmy Porter's 'angry young man' does not sit comfortably on the slumped shoulders of a 61 year old inebriated mental patient who no-one dares make eye contact with on the bus.

Crotchety living legend teams up with hot young producer for major label smasheroonie? Nope (Utah Saints be praised) Our aging hero has not leapt into the sack with a noughties Edie Sedgwick and can therefore still appreciate the irony of 'drop dead gorgeous' for several more years to come. In short: JC retains his dignity and doesn't make a complete a.r.s.e of himself using dance loops, layered beats, sequencers, sampling and the types of music technology traditionally the preserve of the re-cyclist of idea and stiff of finger.

Quite what EMI had in mind when they signed Cale to their roster for his first collection of songs in eight years is anyone's guess. The artist was living and recording in his basement Greenwich Village studio during this time yet his expectant paymasters neglected to give Hobosapiens, an American release. Cale bizarrely had no US label in 2003 so only very expensive imported versions were available until the OR imprint picked up the album - the latter put a bonus track thereon which can only be played on conventional CD players if you rewind past the start of track one (I've never heard this Set Me Free freebie and I don't even know if it exists on my review copy)

Well look up the country of issue on the CD you silly little rodent doesn't say or I can't find it, or it's too small to read...

Get yer eyes tested fleabag, it's probably a JJ Cale album yer looking at...jeez

What vestige of avant-garde remains in the Cale cookie-jar is strictly limited to the use of incongruity within pop music idioms e.g. layering two incompatible or contradictory beats together to arrive at an ambiguous poly-rhythm which threatens to undermine the incessant tyranny of the cyclic pulse (albeit he never actually allows this insurrection to succeed), or splicing a melodic theme prematurely into earlier 'foreign' harmonies within the same song (see Look Horizon where initial puzzling dissonance is uncloaked as the beautiful sci-fi ambiance of the closing fade - yet next time you hear the track the aforementioned frisson is somehow magically assuaged? Cale's being a clever bugger here, (you have to hear this to appreciate the phenomenon I've completely failed to describe adequately)

Long term ally Eno is referenced on the catchiest track on offer in the shape of Things re To assault Tiger Mountain when the sun comes up and we ain't exactly a million miles away from that feel here but the massive demarcation criteria being that Cale's delivery and lyrical imagery are so inimitable as to represent a tonsil textual brand. Based almost entirely on a two chord pivot that remains unaltered between verse and chorus (only Cale's masterful phrasing separates these as sections in our head) it's as spontaneously natural, laconic and effortlessly brilliant throughout as anything produced by his supposed peers Bowie and Reed. Trivia fans may source some succor that the line things to do in Denver when you're dead is NOT from the wretched Tarantino wannabe neo-noir film of the same name but the infinitely superior Warren Zevon song of the same name recorded in 1991

Having produced over 80 albums, and for some very 'difficult' artists like the Stooges, Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman, Nico, Happy Mondays and Nick Drake, it seems somewhat ironic that Cale has failed to realise for the longest time that the last person who should produce a John Cale record is John Cale. Throughout a very uneven career he has been conspicuously short of a trusted adjutant who could safely say ditch that John, it's a pile of incoherent lazy coke fueled hippy wank. As a keen observer of the contemporary musical landscape and a big hip-hop fan, Cale would have identified Lemon Jelly's Nick Franglen as one of the 'go to guys' in the knob twiddling studio boffin stakes. The lush, clean and detailed nature of his production is distinctly at odds with the enduring grime aesthetic that still holds sway in indie/garage land reverence for all things VU related. I'm sure this must irritate Cale as he is on record as saying the lo-fi nature of the Velvets was never by design and they would have leapt at any opportunity to inhabit a higher fidelity realm.

Modus Operandi - Cale wrote all the songs in his basement studio in a matter of hours i.e. there was no premeditated baggage or relics long poured over in danger of becoming stale and he combines traditional acoustic sounds with imaginary (and maybe impossible) electronic ones. As ever, his viola is exquisitely lyrical and sparing where appropriate and utterly frenzied, diabolic and thoroughly violated at the extremities mirrored in these fantastic and disorienting audio collages. Such is the intricate layering at work here and the artificial spaces created in the sound picture, this is perhaps the antithesis of a 'performance' record but certainly does not suffer any loss of coherence as a result. The drum loops utilised for Zen are sourced from a Bernard Purdie recording (the drummer who claimed that Ringo never played a note of any Beatles records) Don't let that dissuade you as no-one is ever gonna sample anything north of Purdie's neck forever hence and the performance captured is uncannily apt for this track.

Letter from Abroad was inspired by a documentary about the Taliban in Afghanistan called 'Beneath the Veil' and Cale allegedly telephoned Bono (why, did he misdial?) for advice about the suitability of the subject matter In the light of the events of 9/11. John had misgivings about tackling such an emotive and recent tragedy but pressed ahead regardless. The creaking and rusted loop was provided by Eno but it sounds uncannily like a Beck outtake?

I had some great fun playing the instrumental portions of this album to those stubbornly pale homies at work who fancy themselves 'hip' to urban dance music and they all remarked without demur that this was 'dah bomb diggidy' - which I'm advised means 'thoroughly splendid', bordering on 'smashing' y'all.

Bicycle lets the tyres down somewhat, being but an 'intermediate' DAW tutorial in generic rawk beats underpinning a 4 note call and response nibbly morsel of negligible merit and it's the only track here that falls into the yawning trap of merely proving it would fall apart as a musical construct if removed from the rarefied sanctuary provided by Pro Tools. Anyone who has heard the excellent Fragments of a Rainy Season will be surprised that Cale is guilty of releasing a creation that fails to stand up to the litmus test of piano and vocal melody resilience. Similarly, Things X is a doomed exercise in how one sublime song with melody unaltered would sound like with completely random and unrelated chords underneath?. Answer: w.a.n.k.y. deconstructed s.h.i.t.e, which may have yielded the brilliant 'one-off' spookiness of Heartbreak Hotel but falls flat on it's concrete botoxed post modern backside here.

Twilight Zone starts like (gasp) Sinking by the Cure with its clattering dissonant shock piano chord which retreats to reveal a rather contrived structure albeit one with a redemptive hook as reward for our forbearance. It ain't bad but suffers from the very good company it rubs shoulders with.

There are loads of artists and writers referenced in Cale's output (but tellingly very few composers apart from Brian Wilson, Brahms and Rimsky Korsokov) and it seems transparent he considers himself worthy of consideration in the same breath as Picasso, Magritte, Hemingway, Burroughs, Dylan Thomas and Graham Greene. As much as I adore this contrary welsh alchemist, when pressed, I'm sure he would consider such chutzpah as all the proof that were needed for an admission that his potential went unfulfilled.

So lap this up Cale fans, as it's perhaps one of his strongest solo albums to date and its successor will have you unwittingly apeing one of the most terrifying audible artifacts in rock i.e. an inconsolable John Cale scream, being the only dignified response that the execrable Black Acetate deserves.

Thanks to easy money for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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