John Cales early-mid 1980s are often regarded, by the man as well as his fans, as a period of some unrest and uncertainty, highlighted by a string of LPs that only occasionally hit the heights for which he was renowned. Breaking out of the claustrophobia of Music For A New Society, three more or less straightforward rock albums - Honi Soit, Caribbean Sunset and Artificial Intelligence - all have peaks that he had seldom visited in the past, but they also staggered beneath some embarrassing lows. This astonishing recording, however, shows us where Cales head was really at.
an enjoyably intelligent and revealing interview, Cale and his piano perform
a short and delightfully disheveled live set that opens with a raw "Streets
of Laredo," then moves on through "Buffalo Ballet," "Childs
Christmas," "Im Walking," "Heartbreak Hotel,"
"Close Watch," "Hedda Gabbler" and "Waiting For
My Man." Few surprises there, then, but the performances always astonish.
The downside is the
sound quality, which is clear and loud enough, but is hamstrung by an
annoying hiss, occasional drop-outs and sundry other shifts and warbles.
Nothing to truly disrupt your listening, but enough to leave you regretting
that things could not be sharper. For this is classic Cale, caught in
what we should now start regarding as a classic era. Maybe Caribbean
Sunset was not the new Fear. But it didnt need to be.
- Dave Thompson
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