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Elegant & melodious,
This review is from: Paris 1919 (Audio CD)
This classic 1973 album has been enhanced by the addition of 11 tracks of demos and alternate takes. Paris 1919 is atypical for John Cale, being consistently tuneful and mainstream with little experimentation. Some of his most poetic lyrics are found on these elegant songs, most of which are ballads that bring to mind the music of Scott Walker at his creative peak on Boy Child 67-70. A reggae ditty and a powerful rock song ensure stylistic variety.
There is a subdued, desolate air about Child's Christmas in Wales, Hanky Panky Nohow and Half Past France while subdued, whispered vocals make Antarctica a brooding, moody track. With its impressive orchestral backing Paris 1919 is less of a rock album than most of his best later work, like for example the three Island Years albums. The exception is Macbeth, a robust, even blistering slice of up-tempo rock.
The ballad arrangements may be orchestral but the melodies are simple and appealing for the most part, as on the lovely Andalucia. The delightful title track with its edgy arrangement, birdsong and refrain of "you're a ghost, la la la" is especially striking, while the lilting reggae beat and trenchant lyrics of Graham Greene render it catchy and charming. Paris 1919 is simultaneously a very 'literary' album and Cale at his most accessible. The bonus tracks are interesting but there's nothing exceptional about any of them.