Exposé Online banner

John Cale — Words for the Dying
(All Saints ASCD09, 1989/2004, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2004-04-01

Words for the Dying Cover artI have to admit an orchestral setting for a set of Dylan Thomas poems reminded me of many of the criticisms for many a 70s progressive rock concept album. John Cale's arrangement of this collection of prose is not much like any else he's ever done though. Enlisting Brian Eno as producer aids in the specific area of arranger focus on delivery and tone. Cale's vocal outside of the rock and roll idiom becomes a focal point unlike any other project I've heard by the man. The synchronicity of the creative process is directly linked to the stark results as Cale worked in parallel with the timing of the British Falklands war. Perhaps the best execution is on "On a Wedding Anniversary," that depicts a forlorn melodic phrase well from the orchestral arrangement. The best mesh of ensemble delivery and solo vocal appears on "Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed," where a boys' choir is also utilized. Cale composed two separate piano pieces without lyrics that are also quite efficient in approach. The first of these is less bleak than the second, which is plaintive and hopeful. An alternate version of "The Soul of Carmen Miranda" co-performed with Eno is also included as the last piece on the disc (an outtake from the Wrong Way Up sessions). Overall the work recalls elements of many of Michael Mantler's works, especially Many Have No Speech or The Hapless Child.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 29, 2004 releases, 1989 recordings

Related artist(s): Brian Eno, John Cale

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Judy Dyble - Talking with Strangers – For those of you not old enough to remember, Judy Dyble was Fairport Convention’s original vocalist who left after their first album. She then hooked up with Ian McDonald and the original line...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues