7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Vintage Violence (Audio CD)
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.