Though Lou Reed is often thought of as the abrasive member of the Velvet Underground, during the punk era Reed was writing confessional singer/songwriter albums while his former bandmate John Cale was traveling the world in the company of a band of snot-nosed youngsters raised on hard rock, shrieking himself into a frenzy, wearing a hard hat on-stage, and writing songs like "Chickenshit," a real-life tale of the time he beheaded a chicken (already dead) on-stage and threw the carcass into the crowd and his whole band quit in protest, set to the most merciless music he'd been a part of since White Light/White Heat.
Live set by former Velvet Underground member and the ringmaster of the avant-garde, Mr. John Cale. The album is virtually a career retrospective, recorded live on John's 2006 European tour. Cale felt like he'd finally found the personnel to interpret his songs with new twists, new dimensions and new emotions. None more so evident than the track 'Gun', originally appearing on 1974's Eno & Manzanera produced Fear but now sounding akin to a heavy arsenal of crunching weaponry. Inspired, Cale recorded the dates and the band began to tear up a 40 year musical history book, challenging and breathing new life into Cale's work…
While John Cale is one of the most famous and, in his own way, influential underground rock musicians, he is also one of the hardest to pin down stylistically. Much has been made of his schooling in classical and avant-garde music, yet much of what he's recorded has been decidedly song-oriented, dovetailing close to the mainstream at times. Terming him a forefather of punk and new wave isn't exactly accurate either.
Right from the start, Cale makes it clear he's not messing around on Fear. If his solo career before then had been a series of intriguing stylistic experiments, here he meshes it with an ear for his own brand of pop and rock, accessible while still clearly being himself through and through. Getting musical support from various Roxy Music veterans like Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Mackay didn't hurt at all, and all the assorted performers do a great job carrying out Cale's vision.
John Cale's 1992 live Fragments of a Rainy Season holds a special place in the hearts of longtime fans. Cale was no stranger to concert sets. Among his most notorious are the snarling Sabotage/Live from CBGB's and 1986's howling Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Fragments captures Cale completely solo. His iconic singing voice, rainbow variety of melodies, and poetic lyrics are accompanied only by his piano or acoustic guitar. It's easily his most welcoming album, the one that provides a solid introduction as he ranges through his back catalog.
Both Brian Eno and John Cale have always flirted with conventional pop music throughout their careers, while reserving the right to go off on less accessible experiments, which means they've always held out the promise that they would make something as attractive as this synthesizer-dominated collection, on which Eno comes as close to the mainstream as he has since Another Green World and Cale is as catchy as he's been since Honi Soit. The result is one of the best albums either one has ever made. [A 2005 reissue added two bonus tracks: "Grandfather's House" and "You Don't Miss Your Water."]
Funding Velvet Underground member John Cale performed the band’s 1967 masterpiece, The Velvet Underground & Nico, alongside selections from its follow-up, White Light/White Heat, during a gig at La Philharmonie de Paris. As previously reported, he was joined by a handful of guest performers including Animal Collective, Mark Lanegan, Pete Doherty and Carl Barât of The Libertines, and more…