1979's '5' came three years after Cale's previous effort and marked a significant change in his recording ethic. The production on '5' is a little heavier and more polished than on his earlier albums. It doesn't make for a better album, but the material and the playing is, as usual, peerless. Another difference is song length. The longest track on Cale's debut album barely topped three minutes, but here, backed by brass and strings, the moody 'Sensitive Kind' runs to over five. 'Friday', which is cast in Cale's usual blues mode, is over four.
Superb, twirling blues licks open the compelling 'Thirteen Days'; the smouldering 'Boilin' Pot', which is even slower, is just as effective. 'I'll Make Love To You', raided by Eric Clapton for his 'Backless' album, is more uptempo, the most commercial track on the album. 'Don't Cry Sister', 'Fate Of A Fool' and 'Mona' are more in the slower blues mode of the first two tracks. The most distinctive tracks are 'Too Much For Me', a personal favourite that has the spareness of his earlier work and the less impressive 'Let's Go To Tahiti' and 'Katy Kool Lady'. Cale's earlier albums are better, but '5' is still a great effort.