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 at how consciously accessible much of his output is, at times approaching (but not quite attaining) a fairly “normal” rock sound.
John Cale | The Endless Plain of Fortune
There is always a tension between the experimental and the accessible in Cale’s solo recordings, meaning that he usually finds himself (not unwillingly) caught between the cracks: too weird for commercial success, and yet not really weird or daring enough to place him among the top rank of rock’s innovators.
Any assessment of Cale’s solo contributions also tends to be overshadowed by his other considerable achievements. Before launching his solo career, he was, with Lou Reed, a primary creative force behind the Velvet Underground, as bassist, viola player, keyboardist, and occasional co-songwriter (the exact nature of his compositional contributions is still a matter of heated debate among the group members).
John Cale | I Wanna Talk To You
He was without question one of the most influential producers of pre-punk, punk, and new wave, overseeing important recordings by the Stooges, Nico, Patti Smith, the Modern Lovers, and Squeeze.
Always the most avant-garde member of the Velvet Underground, John Cale’s first new album since 2005 features pianos being hit by fists, screaming synthesisers and violas, insistent beats and Chic-style funk guitar motifs. There are nods to David Byrne and Wire’s late-80s blend of instruments and technology, but much of it sounds like pop music made by or for Daleks.
John Cale & Band LIVE
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 | 20:00 CET
Passionskirche | Zossener Str. 65 | 10961 Berlin/Kreuzberg