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John Cale - Music For A New Society CD (album) cover


John Cale

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5 stars The inclusion of John Cale on this site is a brave decision, if not a truly progressive one. His general work doesn't sit comfortably next to any conventional, classic Prog Rock, yet his uncompromising compositions, his avantgarde approach to Rock'n'Roll and Pop holds more of its own to most outings of plenty of other bands on Progarchives. "Music For A New Society" proves just this case. At its core this album is primarily a collection of straight forward pop ballads (Broken Bird, Chinese Envoy, Taking Your Life In Your Hands) boiled down to their bare bones and given an experimental uplift, and avantgarde experiments (Sanities, In The Library Of Force) that could in some other strange universe be rock anthems. Damn Life is the highlight here - borrowing Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony for a melody hook as a gentle opener, sequeing into a midtempo rocker before returning to the main theme for a dark, moody conclusing. The closest any of these tracks comes to what most people understand as Prog. Although the production might for the most part sound very 'Eighties' it is all done in Cale's inimitable classy (and classical) way. If you like Hammill's output from the same era you will embrace this album with pure joy. Not a masterpiece of Progressive Rock Music, simply a masterpiece of Music, and therefore essential.
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Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars MFANS is another critically acclaimed album from John Cale that yet has to start speaking to me. It combines the mellowness of 1919 with an ill-fitting artsy pretension. Not the most exiting of combinations thinkable.

It starts with recycling Close Watch, a new recording of the best tune from Helen Of Troy and one of the highlights here. Broken Bird maintains the same reflective ambience. The sought-after punk with art pretension of Changes Made is rather awkward though. It had better been left off the album to make more room for pensive musings such as Chinese Envoy. Not a really strong piece neither but at least it provides some sort of thematic cohesion that could have make this album a bit better then the sum of its parts.

Damn Life is a simple rock ballad that is arranged into a pretentious affectation, with the Beethoven's 9th inclusion as the most preposterous climax. Also If You Were Still Around and other tracks that follow merely sound like art-posturing to me. Only Taking Your Life has the mark of quality of the opening tracks. Overall, this is an average singer-songwriter album for me but certainly not among the best in that field.

I have to conclude that the most popular albums from John Cale suit me the worst. Both this one and Paris 1919 have only kept to disappoint me in the many years they've been gathering dust on the attic. But then, I'm a kind of prog/new-wave/metal/zeuhl hybrid sort of person, so I've obviously not understood any of this at all.

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Posted Monday, February 15, 2010 | Review Permalink

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