John Cale - Fear

Narrowly his 2nd best LP.

Only really know Paris 1919 until recently, Fear being the next one I’ve listened to and yeah it’s great. He seems to have shitloads though, what else is at the top tier?

Yep. Paris 1919 is a solid 9/10. Fear a solid 8. The rest no higher than 6.

Wrong Way Up is good, (Eno and Cale) couple of crackers in there.
The haunting “Cordoba” I cant get out of my head

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Yes, Paris 1919 first and Fear second. I’d have to say “The Best of John Cale” in third.

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I was utterly delighted when Alan Moore played something from this album on his Radio 6 bit the other week.

I think Fear is his best. Absolutely love every track. Always think it’s weird that he’s never
mentioned when people talk about Nick Cave when this album is basically a proto-nick cave circa 88-94 album (mixture of beautiful ballads, oddball pop, psychotic rockers). His voice on ‘Gun’ and ‘Momma Scuba’ basically IS Nick during said period too. Cale’s not as good a lyricist but a much better writer of melodies. Better solo career than Lou Reed too.

If Fear had “endless plain of fortune” on it I would agree

Paris 1919 is the only one i own/regularly go back to but i remember listening to Fear before going to see him live a few years ago and it was pretty good. played Gun at the gig which was cool

This is a late career gem that I really enjoy. I’m also very fond of Slow Dazzle, Vintage Violence and Artifical Intelligence along with that Brian Eno collab. Think he strikes an amazing balance between stunning ballardary and some truly unhinged works. Would still like to catch him live if I get a chance.

Just been reminded that Sabotage/Live is a monster of a record.

Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood was actually great too.

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He was on great form in the late 70’s. Did that EP with the incredible ‘Hedda Gabbler’ on it around the same time as ‘sabotage/live’ too. Shame there isn’t a studio version of ‘Captain Hook’, it’s an amazing song that i’m sure would have sounded even greater with a more polished recording and performance.

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Yeah Slow Dazzle is good (Heartbreak Hotel alone… ) and Vintage Violence, I like Helen of Troy a lot as well

not really listened to much else by him… feel as though should check out his Terry Riley collaboration and also Academy in Peril

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His live album Fragments of a Rainy Season is amazing- one of rare instances where I prefer live versions to most of the originals. The songs from Music For A New Society (things like Thoughtless Kind, I Keep a Close Watch and Chinese Envoy) are his best ever, I think, but I much prefer the versions on Fragments to the studio originals.

The tracks you mention are all great, but Style It Takes and Heartbreak Hotel on Fragments also right up there for me. Both are a lot better than his studio versions. Although Heartbreak Hotel is probably not a fair comparison, his previous version utterly strangled the source material.

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Fragments is just great - it really exposes what a great songwriter he is (something which is sometimes a bit hidden by the way he has recorded his songs over the years). The version of Heartbreak Hotel is just amazing too as you say - one of my favourite covers ever (I like the studio version too, but the live version is incredible)

Saw him ostensibly touring that one but the release had been pushed back til later in the year so not sure if I ever got round to it when it came out in the end up. But remember the EP before it sounding decent enough (Extra Playful)

Never given Helen Of Troy a try - any standouts from that album?

The first version of I Keep a Close Watch is on that album - probably his best ever song (one he’s recorded a number of times).


Ballad Of Cable Hogue and Leaving It Up To You are 2 of his best songs as well as the aforementioned ‘keep a close watch’. I love the whole album though tbh.