The mighty John Cale has re-emerged — he’s touring Europe as we speak and has a new LP coming out early next year (You can check out the Weyes Blood-assisted “Story of Blood” now). In the meantime, let’s go back to the mid-1970s when John was just getting going as a touring act. He’d obviously played live plenty before, but following the release of 1975’s Slow Dazzle, he really leaned into being a traveling musician.
Cale’s band at this point is ace: Chris Spedding on guitar, Chris Thomas on keys, Tim Donald on drums and Pat Donaldson on bass. That rhythm section is cool — Donald and Donaldson were folk-rock favorites, having played on Richard & Linda Thompson’s first few records. It’s a safe bet that the just-converted-to-Muslim Thompsons were very different employers than Cale, who was entering his wildman phase. Spedding, meanwhile proves himself a truly adaptable player – not really surprising since his 1970s CV boasts work with both Nilsson and the Sex Pistols. Check out his beautifully rendered solo on “Child’s Christmas In Wales” at the top of the set and then marvel at the wicked feedback he coaxes from his amp during the closing “Dirtyass Rock & Roll.”
Even though Cale’s Island Years are perhaps better known for their extreme material, this is a well-balanced set, with plenty of pleasing ballads and sparkling Paris 1919 material. But don’t worry, there’s also a fair share of extreme stuff, from the unhinged “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend” to a scorched earth rendition of the Modern Lovers’ “Pablo Picasso.” And as a bonus, Cale’s old pal Nico pops up for a weirdo rendition of the spoken word piece “The Jeweler.” Do you want to hear Nico’s opening set? Sure you do. | t wilcox
Child’s Christmas in Wales / I’m Waiting For The Man / Buffalo Ballet / Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend / Chatter, Laughter, Tuning / Ghost Story / You Know More Than I Know / The Endless Plain of Fortune / Antarctica Starts Here / Chatter, Laughter, Preparation / The Jeweller / Darling I Need You / Pablo Picasso / Gun / Heartbreak Hotel / Dirty Ass Rock ‘n’ Roll