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John Cale - Fear CD (album) cover


John Cale


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3.34 | 35 ratings

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3 stars Hard to say what kicked John Cale out of the lethargic state that got him to record Paris 1919, but Fear is a compelling work of art-rock where Cale has found his edge back. Though the songs are pretty basic, the smart arrangements and the urge and bite of the performance makes them magical.

Assisted by a gang of Roxy Music veterans, Cale makes a decisive choice for innovative and bleak music, quite a relief after the mellow pop of Paris 1919. The intensity of the vocals, the jagged rhythm and disturbing bass guitar at the end of Fear make it a mandatory listen, especially so in order to place some of the origins of punk. Cale moves rock into new and dangerous playgrounds here, where nothing will be as innocent and naive as it used to be.

As much as I despised the ballads on Paris 1919, Buffalo Ballet is simply wonderful. It suggests so much pain underneath the smooth surface. Barracuda continues with a sort of folksy experiment, great tune. Emily breaks the momentum a bit, but Ship Of Fools is a next highlight, it's a slightly sentimental evergreen with great minimalist keyboard arrangements.

The best part on the album is Gun, a pulsating 8 minutes of avant-rock that brings back the best of Velvet Underground's debut. Even though this album comes after the peak of the kraut scene, it's easy to see where they got their chops from: a steady entrancing beat, harsh sound effects, dissonance and touches of artsy violin. The next two songs are rather average. The Man Who Couldn't is a typical Cale song with his well known rhythmical staccato playing on the piano. It all ends with the disturbing Momamma Scuba that seems to continue the musical journey of Gun.

While it isn't strong enough for 4 stars, it's a landmark that has many highlights. Sure one of his most relevant and inspired albums.

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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