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

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ahleuchatistas - Even in the Midst – Maybe I'm just imagining it, but I swear this time out Ahleuchatistas are sounding more accessible than ever. Still crazy as hell, but maybe a little less abrasive. Or maybe I'm getting used...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues