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Vintage Violence

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iTunes Review

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

Lost to time

An absolute masterpiece of late 1960's pop/rock with the kind of oddity and intelligence that only a Velvet Underground vet could engender.

Some very solid work

John Cale doesn't have very many good albums. Fragments of a rainy season and this one are just about the only ones worth caring about. But, when he gets it right he gets it right. There are some song on here like Amsterdam, Big White Cloud, And Gideon's Bible that just get better with every listen.

Excellent, although where are his other albums?

First off. If you read this, read my other reviews ... if you disagree with my perspective, read the next reviewer's previous reviews ... if you agree with his reviews then listen to his perspective. I trust you understand what I am saying. As for Vintage Violence, I love this album and have loved this album for many years ... I own this album on record and the grooves are starting to fade. For me John Cale was every bit as important to the Velvet Underground being the legendary band we all recall from everyone who started a band as a response to seeing them live or hearing them for the first time, such as R.E.M, U2, David Bowie etc. etc. John Cale brought a certain tone to the Velvet Underground which he expands on in Vintage Violence with V V's large expansive sound and warm yet distant tones. At first this album seems cold and withdrawn on further notice perhaps you'll pick up on how emotive yet detached it truly is. I believe Cale sings in himself, similiar to the way certain Jazz musicians play first for themself and then for anyone who cares to listen. The cover of this album truly speaks about the sound within, a detached transparent mask on the outside yet the mask John Cale's face which you can stare directly at for as long as you want. My personal favorite pieces are Amsterdam, Charlemagne, Big White Cloud (brought to our public attention through the Hollywood movie "Smokin Ace's") and Adelaide (which was probably never played on the radio yet in a perfect world would have launched a thousand ships.) This is truly an accomplishment for debut record and if your a fan of the Velvet Underground I suggest you purchase the work. Thank You.


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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