REVIEW

 

JOHN CALE
Ready For War [Dream2 1CD]
A collection of rare tracks, almost all officially released but hard to find from 1971 - 1992. Ex SBD stereo.

A worthy collection, but scarcely an essential one, Ready For War does indeed gather up a lot of the waifs and strays from the Cale catalog, although most, one fears, were long ago horded by the astute Cale collector - and, if they weren't, there's a good reason for that. The opening "Never Takes No For An Answer," from the Sid and Nancy soundtrack, certainly ranks among the least of the maestro's compositions, while the June 1 1974 "Heartbreak Hotel" is contrarily so essential that everyone should own a copy. The b-side "Sylvia Said" has already been collected on sundry official comps, and Cale's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" has never been worth all the fuss that people make of it.

Jennifer Warnes' bubbly version of "Empty Bottles" is a worthy inclusion, though, even if - like Mike Heron's "Feast Of Stephen" - it features Cale in a subsidiary role alone. Elsewhere, both sides of the studio "Mercenaries" 45, and the Animal Justice era "Jack The Ripper" remind us of the studio album Cale should have been making during the late 1970s , although it would have been nicer to hear the rest of the material he was recording around then. 

And from there, it's a hodgepodge that reaches from the thrill of an echoey "Go West" and the manic jollity of another Cohen number, a ferociously rearranged "Queen Victoria," to the ho-hum depths of an excerpt from "Last Day On Earth," the brief "Nanna," and the 80s 12-inch instrumental "Villa D'albani." In other words, you'll definitely be plugging some gaps in your collection - but they'll mainly be ones that you didn't care to fill in the first place. - Dave Thompson

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November 30, 2007