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20 Aug. 1991 | Format: MP3

£5.99 (VAT included if applicable)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 1974
  • Release Date: 20 Aug. 1991
  • Label: Universal-Island Records Ltd.
  • Copyright: (C) 1974 Island Records Ltd.
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 40:42
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001KW9NAU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,235 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Jan. 2000
Format: Audio CD
From the grunge guitar of the seedy 'Gun' to the light, breezy, background drone of 'Ship of Fools', this album is a collection of schizophrenic songs, each highlighting a particular facet of the many different coats that Welshman John Cale is able to wear successfully. High points include the piano histrionics and screaming breakdown at the end of the title track, following a catchy hook that you will be humming to yourself endlessly. The eight minute guitar extravaganza of 'Gun' predates old sparing partner Lou Reed's metal grind of the 'Blue Mask' by almost a decade. It also leaves you cooing for more, and thoroughly disappointed when the long fade out begins. Each song on this album has its own identity, and is the perfect showcase for the off kilter guitar pop that Cale has shown to be his own.If you don't own another Cale album, then make this the one to choose,an excellent highpoint in John Cale's early solo work, but by no means the only one either.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Mar. 2005
Format: Audio CD
There are at least 3 masterpieces on this album of dark rock and clever humour. The title track is a brooding rock ballad with tempo variations and poetic lyrics, one of the most angst-ridden songs in the canon of rock.
Gun is another manic excursion into dark emotional territory, brilliantly executed and with perfect synergy between voice and instruments. It has all the anger of punk, but sounds even more menacing for its complex arrangement and intelligent lyrics.
Providing comic relief just when it is need most, The Man Who Couldn't Afford To Orgy has a lovely breezy melody and propulsive rhythm with sensual female vocals by Judy Nylon. This song very cleverly breaks the spell of the eerie and mournful tone of the tracks preceding it.
The rest isn't bad, but not as immediately memorable as the aforementioned. For example, Buffalo Ballad is quite a pleasant gentle ballad and Barracuda is an engaging mid tempo rocker with an edgy riff. Emily and Ship Of Fools are both mournful, atmospheric ballads.
I highly recommend the Island Years collection, a 2 CD-set that contains this entire album, Slow Dazzle and Helen Of Troy, plus some previously unreleased tracks. That collection properly demonstrates the genius of John Cale in the context of the era.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Nov. 2001
Format: Audio CD
Thankfully, John emerged from the Velvet Underground with his eclectic and quite individual art rock sensibilities intact. He demonstrated this to a satisfying extent in "Fear", a strong set of songs, each with their own identity. From the immediate and insistent hook of the title track, John takes us into his weary, darkly humourous world, via the old west. And Swansea. Cale is consistently clever throughout this album without thumbing his nose at anyone - the songs, often humourous (The Man Who Couldn't Afford To Orgy), or poignant (Buffalo Ballet) are never mawkish or overstated. The jerky pop sensiblities of "Barracuda" recall (indeed, pre-date) Eno era Talking Heads, which I guess is no surprise as Eno is one of the usual suspects involved in the album. Frequently minimal in arrangement, yet sometimes breaking ranks with lush strings or busy guitars and percussion, Fear is a tour de force of diverse songwriting. Not being familiar with John's solo work before this album, I'm certainly encouraged (and I must admit, pleasantly suprised) by his unique blend of Welsh/East Coast avant garde. Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Fear is my best friend. 25 July 2002
By Lypo Suck - Published on
Format: Audio CD
"Fear" laid the groundwork for the diverse and highly emotional nature of the 3 "Island" records, and is the first to introduce Cale's slightly reinvented, dichotomous modus operandi of balancing beautiful, sophisticated pop and tortured rage. Here Cale dives headlong into the dark, sometimes violent emotional turmoil prevalent on all three Island records.

Before "Fear," Cale created the baroque and highly accomplished "Paris 1919," a hauntingly melodic record fusing orchestral arrangements with slightly off-kilter pop and occasional country leanings. However, "Fear's" opener, "Fear is a Man's Best Friend," makes it immediately clear that Cale is taking us down a far darker and more disturbing path than before (albeit more refined than the floor-scraping cacophony he helped create in VU). Quite deceptively, the song begins with a catchy piano riff, but gradually devolves into Cale screaming his head off and beating the snot out of his bass until someone pulls the plug. A pivotal pre-punk moment; utterly primal and kind of scary!

Throughout, Cale navigates eclectic territory with fairly consistent results. Some songs are achingly pretty, like the country-ish "Buffalo Ballet," the mesmerizing, lush "Ship of Fools," and the weak-in-the-knees "You Know More Than I Know." Others are manic, visceral rockers, like the violent classic "Gun," featuring Roxy Music's Ray Manzanera's blistering guitar. However, the blues-raunch of "Momamma Scuba" is utterly forgettable. Hilarious, winsome pop gem "Man Who Couldn't Afford to Or*y" [I can't believe Amazon made me censor that word] shows subtle shades of Brian Wilson (a big influence on Cale). Cale successfully ties most of these varied stylistic threads together with his impassioned singing, grim/sardonic lyrics, and a knack for engaging hooks.

While "Fear" may be a bit of a mixed bag, it remains an awesome record that holds up quite well over 30 years later.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great album from the other talented guy from VU 23 Feb. 2001
By Yosuke Kitazawa - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is definitely one of Cale's best albums. With help from such great musicians as Phil Manzanera and Eno (or non-musician as he likes to call himself), this album is filled with great lyrics, melodies, and production. Songs range from the hard rocking Gun (with a great Manzanera solo treated by Eno: like Roxy Music!), to the pretty ballad Emily, and songs like the powerful Fear is a Man's Best Friend and Ship of Fools lie somewhere in between. Unlike his other two album for Island that followed this album, the production is crystal clear and not overproduced, and all the songs are very strong, maybe with the exception of Momamma Scuba, which is kind of weak in my opinion. It has a similar guitar riff to his crazy cover of Heartbreak Hotel which would appear on his next album Slow Dazzle. If you can find it (I believe it's out of print), get the 2cd Island Years set because it has better sound than the import version, plus the previously-unavailble-on-cd b-side Sylvia Said is a great song, on par with the best songs on the album. If you're curious about Cale's work, start with this one. And if you are interested in his other work, get Paris 1919 (great orchestral rock), and Fragments of a Rainy Season (great solo live album; it showcases just how great a musician Cale is, esp. his piano playing skills).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Chaos from Order. 15 Mar. 2013
By Paul Ess. - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Visitors to Ess Towers - apart from being startled by the academic atmosphere - occasionally comment as to the musical appetites of the eager host ~ often with the charmingly quizzical: "Who the f*** is this ? " or "Get that s*** off !" - - preferring common drivel.
As clubbing people to death for possessing shocking taste is frowned upon by the over-pc boundaries of societal niceties in the U.K, the swami has no recourse but to strank like a toddler and comply.

Things of great beauty alarm people - especially now. Pop music needs to be ugly, manipulative and last barely a week for anyone to pay it the most minimal of neccessary heed. Today's 'kids' are not going to be playing Peter Andre or Black Eyed Peas in 30 years time, so where is today's 'Closer,' 'Blood on the Tracks,' or 'Into the Music' ? The cliche: "I didn't like it at first, but after a few plays, I really do.." is becoming steadily redundant for the simple reason that you don't get the time to. The slow-burner has (deliberately) all but become extinct.
'Fear' is such a slow-burner; it is very much kin to Peter Hamill's excellent 'Patience' album. Initially, the songs appear dirge-like, distended, sluggish even; but after three listens things begin to drop forcefully into place. It's a wonderful realisation; like all the great pleasures in life: women, alcohol, caffeine, drugs and automobiles - you try a few out before you land the one that suits you. 'Fear' is just the same. It stands to a wonderful kind of sense. A warm beauty; a welcoming, homely sense of style. Cale sweeps from one lugubrious show-stopper to the next, affording 'Fear' the kind of disdainful "oh, that little thing.." off-handedness that all great art possesses to a large degree. A worryingly simple song such as 'Buffalo Ballet' can stay with you for days, yet you get the impression that he spent 20 minutes writing it.

People don't realise how subversive a pretty little ditty can be - otherwise consumed by other creators that announce their worthy intentions with bang and clang - 'Fear' is SO subtle, it almost fails to register. Despite the beauty (or maybe because of it ! ), Cale is ruthless. An assassin of themes; a killer of concepts; a bullet in the gullet of the hippy/glam/disco/pre-punk culture that bore his album. You can taste his sour brilliance and feel it's nip.
It'll never go out of style because it's never been in.

'Fear' is marvelous; an enterprise of standing and colossal ingenuity. You can't always rely on pedigree (see Lou Reed's poorer later stuff) and eventually it becomes plain old unjustified diety-worship (see Bono, Bowie, Clapton, McCartney et al; people who've only to wake from their comas and move their bowels once every 5 years to pulsate the masses with sycophantic adoration), so it's always a genuine joy to see greatness in it's proper setting. It deserves the sanctification; justifies every accolade; evidences and maintains it's strutting peacock reputation.
It DOES make sense when you think about it - but do it now before thinking becomes obsolete.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Comforting and unsettling 11 July 2000
By Thorsteinn - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This album provides me with immense depth of experience. I sink into it. Like a backdrop to my existence. The melodies sound homely, relaxed, affable, inviting. It is not troubardour music, but the casual sound reminds one of that ambience. Yet, if you listen closely you hear that this is scary, crazy, unsettling music, ingeniously written.
I am constantly astounded by this album, the production, Cale's singing, the backing vocals, the clever melodies, the weird ideas in the background, and the overall harmony of it all. Effortlessly. This is where beauty and ugliness meet, and never before have I heard these contrasts so easily balanced. In that sense this is where beautiful "Paris 1919" and the scary "Music for a New Society" meet, if you like.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
One of John Cale's Best Albums 18 April 2000
By M. Scagnelli - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Fear is easily one of Cale's best solo albums. It was recorded at the height og his career. This is my favorite period of his career, which is known as the "Island Years." Every song on this album is incredible. Fear is a Man's Best Friend is one of my favorite songs by Cale. Gun probably is my favorite. Barracuda is another great song. Ship of Fools is another great song. It almost sounds like a Vintage Violence type song.
It is hard to not compare John Cale's solo career to Lou Reed's. Cale is much more consistent than Reed. Reed has some really incredible albums such as Transformer, Berlin, The Blue Mask, New York, Songs For Drella (done with Cale), and his new album Ecstacy. Reed, however has some albums that aren't that good. Cale does have his so-so albums, but he has a higher rate of good albums. Fear and Paris 1919 would equal any Reed album.
This album is very hard to find, so I would reccomend buying it online. I highly reccomend this album to any fan of Cale, Reed, or VU.
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