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John Cale - Vintage Violence CD (album) cover


John Cale


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3.38 | 28 ratings

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Easy Money
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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.

Easy Money | 5/5 |


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