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Vintage Violence

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Editors’ Notes

Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale made his bow as a solo artist with 1970’s Vintage Violence, an eclectic and unexpectedly subdued art-rock offering. Those hoping for feedback-drenched freakouts and wailing celebrations of decadence were instead treated to a brace of thoughtfully poetic, even genteel tunes. After years of working in the shadow of Velvets leader Lou Reed, Cale loosened up and explored the full range of his songwriting talents in these tracks. The prevailing mood here is dreamy and slightly unsettled, filtered through oblique lyrics and folk and pop-flavored melodies. Some tracks — especially “Amsterdam” — have a delicately yearning quality. Others, like “Adelaide” and “Cleo” are sweet-centered lollipops of sound. Cale’s darker side is exposed in the sinister “Gideon’s Bible” and the expansive “Big White Cloud,” and you can hear the influence of the Band in certain spots, particularly on the piano-driven “Bring it on Up.” For the most part, though, the music is unmistakably Cale’s own, augmented by the sharp-elbowed playing of his backup band Grinderswitch. Vintage Violence lacks the maniacal intensity of Cale’s later output, but on its own merits, it’s a beguiling work that insinuates rather than screams.

Customer Reviews

Vintage Cale

Great and underappreciated album. Gideon's Bible makes it: a brilliant song. Amsterdam, Ghost Story, Fairweather Friend, and Please also excellent. Very atmospheric and definitely worth a listen.

Better than the Velvets, Cale's fine form

I really enjoy this on a nice summmer shine downpour or walking down the block. It begins excellently with talkin' bout wine in his feet that's to blame. I like that line. 'Bring It On Up' rivals many good songs from this Welsh virtuoso. Like Stones style but even better sometimes. And there's this bonus track called 'Wall' that is amazing. Buy it!


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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Vintage Violence, John Cale
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