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on 14 November 2011
It's easy to be misled by the slightly aggressive title and cover art into thinking this album is going to be a difficult or uncomfortable musical experience. The opposite could not be more true. Instead these are simply masks for thoughtful lyrics, exquisite melodies and great, great songwriting. In songs such as Charlemagne, Hello There, Gideon's Bible and Ghost Story, John Cale gives you tunes which lift the heart and swell the soul. Big White Cloud is a personal favourite, beautifully capturing the experience of lying on your back in a field and staring out into the infinite enormity of space. While Amsterdam is a hauntingly wistful song of love and loss.

The two bonus tracks highlight Cale's eclectic range. The first is a looser, jauntier version of the final album track - Fairweather Friend. While the second bonus track - Wall - provides you with just that, a wall of sound from the electric viola and a reminder (in case you've forgotten) of John Cale's avant garde heritage with the Velvet Underground.
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on 1 February 2002
John Cale, the man who brought the electric viola to the forefront of rock with the Velvet Underground, made his debut with "Vintage Violence." With a title like that, and given Cale's musical history, you'd expect full on loud guitar, bass, organ and viola screaming into your ears. However, this is John Cale we're talking about. Never one to follow convention, his first solo album is tinged by a somewhat commerical sound, albeit a sound with mysterious undertones.
This album contains country-esque sounds on "Adelaide," haunting organ playing on the incredible "Ghost Story", melancholic guitar work on the delicate "Amsterdam," and a slow burning, epic, orchestral sound on the dreamy "Big White Cloud." From this selection it is clear there's a wide variety of influence.
I'll admit some tracks are bewildering, "Cleo", for example, is a simple, child-like song, although bizarrely charming.
To sum up, don't expect a blast of electric viola, that only appears on the bonus track "Wall," which is coupled with an "alternate" take of the jaunty "Fairweather Friend" (although I percieve little difference between the album version and the outtake), but prepared to be surprised. Whether this surprise is pleasnt or disappointing, is up to you to decide.
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on 11 September 2010
There were a number of options that John Cale could have taken when he quit the Velvet Underground, but he has a knack for the unexpected, hence this album, which perhaps its year of issue (1970) just wasn't ready for.

Thus the relatively lightweight pop of `Fairweather Friend' is as far away from his old band as it's possible to be without going into orbit; Cale being Cale there's nothing contrived about its jollification though.

`Big White cloud' is dream pop some time before anyone managed to coin the description, but then Cale's nothing if not ahead of his time. He throws the catchiest hook into this one too, like a man to whom such things come as easily as eating biscuits.

He's assured enough as a songwriter to come up with something like `Amsterdam' too, and make something of it something other than moody introspection. In short, it works because it's him being heartfelt, and not being morose about it.

So John Cale's one of those people for whom the term multi-faceted could have been invented, which of course makes him stand out like the proverbial at the end of this first decade of the twenty-first century, when at times it feels as though formula and indeed the formulaic is everything. For all of its age this album underlines the point.
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on 6 June 2016
I bought the vinyl version when it first came out. It remains one of my all-time favourite albums.
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on 27 June 2007
I am a young purveyor of old music. Oh don't scoff! This album IS old! The time between when this album came out and now exceeds my age by about seventeen years!

With all of the CD releases/re-releases/remasters comes inevitably a slew of bonus tracks. I never listen to those. I always want to experience the album as it could be experienced upon original release. It is only if and when I become familiar and attached to the album that I give the bonus tracks a listen. They're only there for the people who loved it in the first place. They're there to preach to the converted, not the newcomers.

Anyway, I don't know what happened here. Perhaps I was too lazy to get up and turn the CD off after track eleven. Therefore, upon my first listen, I was exposed to the Vintage Violence bonus tracks. There are only two of them. An alternate version of Fairweather Friend and Wall. Now, Wall is where it's at. Wall is an absolute masterpiece. Or at least, I think it is. Droning ambient viola pieces happen to be "my thing". For me this avant-garde-outtake perfectly justified the purchase of the album. A song not originally intended for release is my favourite thing about this CD. THAT'S what annoys me about bonus tracks! Here I am enjoying Vintage Violence on a level it was not originally intended to be enjoyed on! Be that as it may, such is the quality of Wall that in this case it doesn't feel so bad.

I think one reason for this is the fact that the piece sounds unlike any other song on the album. Whereas Wall is experimental (but in no way difficult), the rest of the album is full of sweet, accessible (but in no way uninspired) countrified pop gems. "Countrified" because of the languid feel and prevalence of harmonica and slide-guitar. The production and arrangements are exquisite, best sampled on the majestic Big White Cloud, the sparse and melancholic Amsterdam and the haunting Ghost Story, which actually sounds not unlike something from I Am Kloot's 2005 release Gods and Monsters.

A very sweet, endearing and relaxing listen here, and the lyrics are typically witty, cryptic and inspired for ol' John. I love John Cale, and it's such a shame that I came to hear this album so long after having "discovered" him. He really did play a lot of it live whilst on tour back in January. He's one of the most talented artists to ever have graced music and he is as relevant today as ever. Listening to his debut is therefore quite a staggering experience when one considers the fact that this nugget of tender beauty was not his peak, and that the best was yet to come.
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on 31 March 2016
The only way to describe this album would be "magic noise"
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on 21 April 2007
this is a superb record. please ignore the review above. anyone with any interest in pop music should hear this.

if you buy it and genuinely dont like it i'll give you the money for it.
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on 13 January 2013
This item has not arrived and so therefore I cannnot review it. The one star is for the non-arrival, not the quality of the material.
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