Lou Reed is far and away the most famous of the former members of The Velvet Underground, a situation that is grossly unfair to at least one of his fellow band members. John Cale has assembled a body of work that should have guaranteed him fame and fortune, but while he has received much critical acclaim, he remains criminally under-appreciated by the wider public.
In the first half of the '70s, he recorded 5 albums that are absolute classics: "Paris 1919", "Vintage Violence", and his 3 Island records ("Fear", "Slow Dazzle" and "Helen of Troy"). This 2CD anthology collects the whole of those Island albums (along with a handful of other tracks recorded at the same time) and shows a musical genius at the height of his powers.
Imagine a compilation including "Hunky Dory", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Aladdin Sane", or "Here Come the Warm Jets", "Taking Tiger Mountain" and "Another Green World". That's how great this music is: it is original, intelligent music of the highest calibre.
Actually, the Eno comparison is apt, as the man himself collaborates with Cale throughout this set. Phil Manzanera is there as well, but the result sounds nothing like Roxy Music. There's a hint of Eno's early solo work (which is exactly contemporaneous with these recordings), but nevertheless the three albums are very much Cale's.
Don't let the fame fool you: buy this anthology and discover the real musical talent behind The Velvet Underground.