John Cale — Words for the Dying
(All Saints ASCD09, 1989/2004, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2004-04-01I 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.
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more