John Cale

usician, John Davies Cale (b.09.03.1942 in Garnant), studied musicology at London’s Goldsmiths College in early 60s and relocated to New York to continue his studies. He joined minimalist ensemble The Dream Syndicate. Cale threw himself into the world of the avant garde, exploring microtonal music, and participated in an all-day marathon performance of works by Erik Satie. After meeting Lou Reed in New York, they formed The Velvet Underground. Playing bass, viola and keys, Cale was responsible for much of their distinctive droning rock sound, most notable on the classics Venus In Furs and All Tomorrow’s Parties. He also narrated the murder mystery tale The Gift on their 2nd LP White Light/White Heat, but left the group shortly after, following arguments about their musical direction. He began a solo career, and produced LPs for The Stooges and former Velvets singer Nico. In 1974 he signed to Island and rel a trilogy of rock LPs. At one of his increasingly crazed live shows, members of his band quit after Cale killed a chicken on stage. If that wasn’t enough, he was still producing and performing with artists including Patti Smith, Squeeze, Nico, Sham 69 and Brian Eno.The start of the 80s saw a clutch of new solo releases, incl the political Honi Soit and the poppy Caribbean Sunset. However, the prolificness wasn’t to last: in 1985 Cale celebrated the birth of his daughter Eden Myfanwy with a bottle of wine and a gramme of cocaine. Realising he couldn’t sustain his previous rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, he took some time out from the music industry. He returned in 1989 with Words For The Dying (Opel Recs), which featured the poems of Dylan Thomas read over orchestral music. More popular were the following year’s two collaborations: with Eno on the accessible Wrong Way Up; and Songs For Drella, a tribute to Andy Warhol that saw Cale and Lou Reed recording together once more. The album led to a Velvet Underground reunion in 1993, but it was short-lived. Cale’s influence on modern music is undeniable. Yet, despite long-term critical acclaim and production duties for artists as diverse as Happy Mondays, The Jesus Lizard, Mediaeval Baebes, Siouxsie & The Banshees and Jennifer Warnes, mainstream attention has often eluded him. In 2000 he returned to Wales for the film Beautiful Mistake, which saw him collaborating with artists including the Manics’ James Dean Bradfield, Catatonia, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, Big Leaves and Tystion. In May03 he rel the 5 Tracks EP on EMI, which was followed later in the year by the Hobo Sapiens album. Cale returned in Oct05 with BlackAcetate, which found him newly-invigorated by the freedom allowed by digital recording and the production techniques of Pharrell Williams and Doctor Dre. “Until I got through HoboSapiens,” he said, “I realised I was trying to do all these things with analogue means and the digital revolution just took care of it. If you couldn’t get to grips with it, the only real answer is you didn’t work hard enough.” It’s been a long, strange journey for John Cale, but he shows no sign of stopping now. (website)

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