Saturday, August 28, 2010

The John Cale Song Of The Week - 5 Times Heartbreak Hotel

That's right, beloved readership (or whatever's left of you after the onslaught of John Cale posts here), this week's installment of our Summer series isn't a John Cale song at all, but his cover of The King's hit.
Or, more accurately, John Cale's covers as the man has the good grace and genius to significantly alter, modify or experiment each time he performs. So today, instead of posting only one instance of "John Cale doing Hearbreak Hotel", I'm posting 5 of them, that's right, 5 for the price of one. Merci qui? Merci Frenchy!

The first one comes from a 1981 Spanish TV show, and in addition to Cale, in all his sartorial splendor (check the bow tie and the cap!) there's also Andy Summers and the dearly departed Olly Halsall (in pink) on guitar . The girl on keyboard isn't Deerfrance, but Zanna Gregmar.

Now the second one is a video collage of two interpretations, back-to-back, one in 1983 and the other in 1984. Don't miss the 1984 one where Cale, completely demented, tears up the carpet. I think it is the Rockpalast concert in Germany, a somewhat recent DVD of which had been released for the enjoyment of the masses (the one Santa Claus would be well inspired to bring me for Christmas).

The third version features Richard Thompson, that's the main reason I put it here, but also for Ivan Gaskell who, in addition to being a very fine art historian and curator, is also a Cale and Thompson fan and occasional reader of this blog.
There's also Shawn Colvin on this version.

The fourth interpretation is in fact the first one, chronologically, where Cale made it the ghoulish, slasher-movie version that beget all the subsequent ones, from the album Slow Dazzle.

Now the fifth (and last, at least for this post) version is part of the series of solo concerts he gave all over Europe in the 1990s, and compiled on the CD and later on the DVD (that Santa could also bring me, please Santa, I've been good) "Fragments of a rainy season". It's Cale at his most intimate, and also during his "officer-priest of the Empire" phase, sartorially speaking.  Not to mention that Cale, now in his sober phase, is much more restrained theatrically speaking, but not so much musically. The piano improvisation is really interesting in that regard.

Now, will Cale play Heartbreak Hotel at his next concert at Royce Hall on September 30? The only way for you to know, dear beloved readers, is to buy your ticket and go!

Monday, August 23, 2010

John Cale Song Of The Week - Gravel Drive

Hello, hello,

sorry for being a bit late in posting this week's installment in our Summer series, The John Cale Song Of The Week. Been a bit partying this weekend, with predictable results. Now you know.

Now the thing with John Cale is, the man has produced something like 40 albums, so it's sometimes difficult to make a choice, week in, week out. I was discussing with somebody (hi Olivier!) posting several versions of his cover(s) of Heartbreak Hotel, but I'll save this for next week so I can post a more recent song, Gravel Drive, just in case you guys would think Cale was only good in the 1970s. He was awesome in the 1970s, but so was he in the 1980s, the 1990s, the '00s and of course the '10s.

Gravel Drive came out on his record Black Acetate (2005), the last album Cale had issued (if you don't include Circus Live, 2007). Word on the street is he has lots of new songs he'd love to release but no record company to back him up. That's a shame.

In case you would think I'm a complete John Cale nut - and I wouldn't blame you if you did - I'd love to bring to your attention the website Fear Is A Man's Best Friend, maintained by the ultimate Cale fan and nourished by equally batshit-crazy other numerous fans. These people keep a head count of the number of water bottles Cale has on stage.
I'm not there *yet*. I don't even own all of Cale's records, and I'm only talking about the official ones, not the bootlegs.
So, if the postings I've been putting up this Summer in anticipation of Cale's concert at Royce Hall on September 30 have whetted your appetite, please check Fear Is A Man's Best Friend for all the info I'm unable to provide you with, and then some more.

Speaking of which, a friend of mine (hi Mark!) has pointed out this blog post Doug Harvey of the LA Weekly fame (he's also a curator and an artist, check him out!) has uploaded this week. Methinks he's been reading a bit too much into your truly's series... or maybe not. Thanks anyway!

I'll probably resume the YSL posts in about 3 weeks, and maybe put more art stuff too, but meanwhile I'm busy getting "ready for work, ready for work... I clean my llllaptop everyday, that's why my lllllaptop is my frrrrrriend", uh, no, doesn't sound so good. That's why you guys should buy Cale's music here (so you know, you're ready for the concert) and see you at Royce Hall in about a month.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

John Cale Song Of The Week - Rosegarden Funeral Of Sores

That's right, you among the huge Goth sub-category within my immense readership, you had no idea this song was a John Cale original, right? In 1980, the B-Side of Mercenaries, the most kick-ass single that was ever released.
Most likely, you discovered it through Bauhaus (piece of trivia: do you know that David J. too, lives in Los Angeles? And that he did a cameo appearance at the Jazz Butcher concert here last year for Walk With The Devil? Now, you owe me a drink).

So, for your enjoyment, in anticipation of Cale's upcoming concert at Royce Hall (only 47 more days to be waiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttinnnnnng for our man, it's unbearable), here's Rosegarden Funeral of Sores. Pretty amazing, isn't it?
And, to help you with the wait, please discover and buy Cale's music.

If we're lucky, maybe he'll do a Venus In Furs/Rosegarden Funeral Of Sores medley at Royce Hall, like he sometimes does on stage. Man, he's so awesome our Welsh genius.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just To Remind You

Individual tickets for the John Cale, Sept. 30 gig at Royce Hall have been on sale since Monday.  It's his only North American concert this year, so... see you there en masse!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

John Cale Song Of The Week - Forever Changed, The National Anthem Of Art People

It's Summer, FBC! is taking a small vacation away from art-related posts, but continuing with the John Cale Song Of The Week.
This week,  his collaboration with his frenemmy Lou Reed on the Songs For Drella project they did as a homage to Andy Warhol (first performed in 1989, then released in 1990), and the song Forever Changed.

I always thought of this song as the national anthem of art people, those of us who left behind whatever there was to leave, because our lives have been forever changed by art. Or music, or literature, or cinema.

I just wished there weren't those atrocious French subtitles in the video. Also, I prefer the record version (with slightly different lyrics), if only because on the album it doesn't sound as if Reed tries to crap all over Cale's singing with his boring guitar prowess. Yes, Lou, we  all know you can play guitar, now maybe a bit less loud would benefit everybody.

Not much else to add, except encouraging you once again to buy John Cale's music and to go see him at Royce Hall on September 30th if you are in the US, and at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on Sept. 5 if you are in Europe.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The John Cale Song Of The Week - I Keep A Close Watch

To continue with our Summer ongoing series, anticipating the Welsh genius's concert at Royce Hall on September 30, today's song is "I Keep A Close Watch", the song that should have given Cale an interplanetary hit. I never understood why he never got famous with this one (or with Big White Cloud). Here's a live version,  but my all time favorite is the shortened titled "Close Watch" on Music For A New Society, which is also my favorite John Cale record.

I'm afraid one day some piss-poor cover by a vapid, inept R&B "singer" will be used for a stupid Hollywood movie and will destroy that song. But if it puts money in Cale's pocket, maybe it wouldn't be so terrible. Before something like this happens, please buy John Cale's music, and go see him at Royce Hall this Fall.You won't regret it.