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Made seven years after his previous solo album, Walking on Locusts, 2003's HoboSapiens is arguably stronger for being so many years in the writing. Always a sharp-witted, intellectually curious composer, John Cale comes across as a man anxiously getting down to matters. The list of musicians is impressive, including Cale's daughter Eden, Tom Waits' key guitarist Joe Gore, Andy Green, and a list of folks in charge of sampling. Brian Eno provides the drum loop to "Bicycle." Despite all the folks involved, however, this still comes across as a John Cale solo album. His vocals and vision dominate the pieces, and his modest but always-enticing way with a melody come through on the relatively sedate "Reading My Mind" and "Things," for starters. Cale's flat Welsh delivery adds a sense of unease to everything he sings, and tracks like "Look Horizon," "Magritte," "Twilight Zone," and "Over Her Head" feel like a soundtrack to the end of the world, with the orchestration creating a claustrophobic intensity.


Born: March 9, 1942 in Garnant, Wales

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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. Those investigating his work for the first time under that premise may be surprised...
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Hobosapiens, John Cale
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