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John Cale - Animal Justice CD (album) cover


John Cale


Prog Related

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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