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The Island Years

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iTunes Review

The Island Years features three of John Cale's strongest solo albums of the '70s (Fear, Slow Dazzle, and Helen of Troy) in their entirety, along with outtakes and b-sides. This mid-'70s work includes some of Cale's most focused rock 'n' roll. Musicians such as Roxy Music's Brian Eno, Andy Mackay, and Phil Manzanera, notable session guitarist Chris Spedding, Richard Thompson, Judy Nylon, Chris Thomas, Geoff Muldaur, Robert Kirby, and even drummer Phil Collins all show up to bring this underrated songwriter's work to full fruition. Tracks such as "Fear Is a Man's Best Friend," "Gun," "Dirty Ass Rock 'n' Roll," "Guts," "I Keep a Close Watch," and covers of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" and Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso" make this collection feel somewhat like a greatest-hits set. It's surely a blueprint for alternative rockers who already counted Cale's work with The Velvet Underground to be as important as anything by Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, or The Rolling Stones. 

Customer Reviews

UPI and Reuters were the first ones on the scene.

This is quite seriously a must have collection of Cale tracks, composed of 3 of his mid seventies albums. The songs are all on edge, showing Cale embittered and angry, and incredibly inspired. The raucous "Fear is a Man's Best Friend" sets the tone straight off for what is an interesting set of portraits of drug addicts, drowned sailors, hitmen, dying monks, Brian Wilsons, transvestites, office workers and jealous and spurned lovers. It's a real thrill ride, especially once you hear "Guts" followed by "the Jeweller", which is probably the creepiest two songs that could possibly wind up back to back on any record.

Really, just buy this, at once!

Genius is a threadbare, overused, and honestly inappropriate moniker most of the time. Not so in the case of John Cale, one of the coolest cats to ever pick up a guitar (or viola, as the case may be). Simply put, this period of Cale's work ranks amongst the very, very, very best music ever made. No, this isn't an exaggeration. On the same plane as Ziggy Stardust, the first Velvet Underground record, and Never Mind the Bullocks. A life changing experience, really... The only missing component is the original album artwork, which is of the highest order. The Guts cover must rank as one of the best ever, every ounce as great as, say, the cover for The Slider or Here Come the Warm Jets. Thank you, John Cale!!!

three great and hard to find albums...

but here you have them in this collection. Fear, Slow Dazzle and Helen Of Troy were cale's mid-70's records, and it is so good to have them back. my fave? his rendition of 'heartbreak hotel'...


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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