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!

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