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Editors’ Notes

The intentionally disturbing songs on John Cale’s Fear marked a turning point in the ex-Velvet Underground member’s long and fruitful career. This 1974 album re-introduced him as a singer/songwriter fascinated with mayhem and madness, capable of unleashing blood-curdling screams and instrumental freak-outs. Cale infuses tunes like “Fear is a Man’s Best Friend” and the extended jam “Gun” with a film noir-like sense of violence, drawing upon such luminaries as Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno for support. The lulling synthesizer waves in “Emily” mask the sinister undercurrents swirling below its gentle surface. Fear often displays considerable rock muscle, with the convulsive “Momamma Scuba” boasting no less than three slide guitarists (including Manzanera and Richard Thompson). No matter how crazed the proceedings get, Cale remains the consummate artiste, able to keep the tracks from descending into sloppiness. Fear remains a highpoint for its fresh, visceral attack and finely twisted sense of humor.

Customer Reviews

One of My Favorite Albums of All-Time

A few days ago I was rummaging through my CDs looking for something else, when I came across Fear and decided to give it a long over due listen. Well, I was
blown away— EVERY song is a gem. The lyrics are SO poignant and at the same time vague (typical of Cale). What's more, the tunes themselves are infectious and the production is amazing.

I've been a fan of Cale since my teens (more than 20 years) and this is without a doubt, for me, his best. WHAT an underrated album.

(By the way, I find the above iTunes review miles off-base, so don't bother gleaning much insight from it, just listen for yourself.)

One of the best by one of the best

There's really too much to say about this album. Everything about it, start to finish, is a wonder to behold. The opening track ends in a frenzy of screaming and noise, and the hauntingly beautiful second track just seems to be the perfect next step. The whole album is constructed with this attention to detail, so the listener really gets the whole package of Cale's abilities here. I can't decide if this or "Paris 1919" is better, but this holds as one of the greatest albums ever written as far as I'm concerned.


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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