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John Cale - Guts CD (album) cover


John Cale


Prog Related

4.97 | 6 ratings

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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.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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