Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy 70th Birthday, John Cale!

Today, Mr. Cale turns 70 and celebrates decades and decades of music making. We at the FBC! headquarters wish him a fantastic fun day and a great time on his upcoming mini-European tour. A new record should be out I believe in May (?) courtesy Domino/Double Six records. If it's as good as his latest EP, we'll be in heaven!

Here's a short selection below of clips from John Cale. If he ever tours near you, don't miss him, he's always good on stage, and he works with the nicest and greatest drummer on the planet, Mr. Michael Jerome Moore (hi Michael!).

Here's an early Velvet Underground experimental track influenced by Cale's time with La Monte Young and  Tony Conrad, Loop:

Antarctica Starts Here, from Cale's most famous record, Paris 1919

Much later on, the song that made me discover John Cale's music when I was about 14 years old, Mercenaries:

John Cale is also a noted composer of film soundtracks (his most famous being for American Psycho), here's Wilderness Approaching, for the movie Paris s'éveille, also on his EP 5 tracks (2003)

Aside from the Velvet Underground and his later collaboration with Lou Reed when they did Songs For Drella, Cale is also a master of covers. Everybody knows his arrangement of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which propelled into super mega stardom an hitherto unknown song, thanks to Jeff Buckley's histrionic cover of his arrangement. Cale has  also covered Elvis Presley, LCD Soundsystem, Rufus Thomas, Jonathan Richman, etc. Here's his version of a beautiful Nico song, Frozen Warnings.

You probably know that John Cale was born in Wales in a small mining village, Garnant. If you've ever read his great autobiography, What's Welsh For Zen?, you also know that Welsh is his first language, and that he learned English aged seven when he went to elementary school. Here's Cale interpreting a traditional Welsh song, Myfanwy.

John Cale has released many records, produced all the greats (Iggy And the Stooges, The Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, Happy Mondays, Squeeze...), worked with Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Chris Spedding and even Phil Collins on drums (yep!) ... and despite such a storied and trailblazing  career never really got the recognition he deserves. 
That hasn't prevented him from continuing and making music. Here's below a clip from his last EP, "Extra Playful", the song Whaddya Mean By That. Super catchy music, the lyrics are probably not his best...  but once you've listen to the song once it morphs into the earworm you'll crave for days. If you can lay your hand on the Black Friday edition of this EP, I particularly recommend you listen to The Hanging.

I hope this will have given you the curiosity to explore his fantastic musical career. We spent a summer doing just that at the FBC! Headquarters two years ago and it was an amazing experience. Lastly, if you would like to wish John Cale a happy birthday, please join his official Facebook page and leave him a note.

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