There is another record from our hero Mr. Cale. This album is odd and I have yet to find in it an album I love. There are, however, some moments that truly astound. Mailman is a wonderful example of how to structure a song. Great backing vocals and a set of lyrics that seem at once abstract and familiar. Hush is an overtly simple thing of beauty. Here's the deal, I guess - If you insist (as I do) in buying John Cale records, you're always going to be surprised, annoyed and confused. You're also going to own some of the finest records recorded. Art is never simple. I guess I prefer the John Cale that provides us with beguilling string sections and atonal piano in the middle of strange pop songs. That doesn't happen here - much. This is a not influenced by LaMonte Young / John Cage. I recommend this record, but I recommend you get HoboSapiens first.
Black Acetate is more appealing than Hobo Sapiens in its greater variety of styles and stronger melodies. It opens with the funky Outta The Bag where Cale sings falsetto. The next two, For A Ride and Brotherman, are a bit messy an ultimately forgettable. The first highlight comes in the form of Satisfied, a slow and tuneful ballad reminiscent of his Paris 1919 album. In A Flood is memorable slow masterpiece, a blend of the sorrowful and eerie in the lyrics and lovely instrumentation. Hush has an edgy feel and funky undertone, in the same vein as Outta The Bag but without the falsetto. Gravel Drive is another atmospheric gem with beautiful background vocals and chiming guitar, quite an evocative song of loss and nostalgia. The album's catchiest pop song is called Perfect, an uptempo number with a driving beat and plenty of hooks, like something from the Island years. There are great tempo variations on Woman with its complex arrangement and appealing chorus. This one grows on you. The love song Wasteland has a memorable tune, flowing arrangement and gorgeous piano flourishes. Turn The Lights On is a driving rock song with a lilting tempo and prominent guitars, and the album concludes with Mailman (The Lying Song), a mid-tempo rock ballad with charming moments and noteworthy piano and viola. In my opinion, Black Acetate offers more variety and memorable songs than Hobo Sapiens. In short, a typical John Cale album with at least four masterpieces in the form of Satisfied, In A Flood, Gravel Drive and Perfect, a lot that is good, like Woman, Wasteland and Turn The Lights On, and some unnecessary indulgence. Overall a great return to form and an essential album for John Cale fans.
To me, Black Acetate offers more sonic variety, melodic appeal and memorable moments than its predecessor Hobo Sapiens. It opens with the funky Outta The Bag where Cale sings falsetto; if it weren't for the gritty guitars it could have been 1970s disco singer Sylvester. On the mid-tempo ballad For A Ride, a segment of distorted vocals and delicate experimental sounds create a spectral air whilst Brotherman is a bit messy and ultimately forgettable. Obviously I miss the subtler nuances of Cale repeatedly intoning that he "writes reams of this (excrement) ever day".
The first highlight comes in the form of Satisfied, a graceful, melodious ballad reminiscent of those on his Paris 1919 album. Likewise, In A Flood is a masterpiece, a blend of enigmatic lyrics and brooding instrumentation; the banjo reminded me of Last Day on Earth, Cale's collaboration with Bob Neuwirth. The mournful Gravel Drive is an atmospheric gem with sublime background vocals and chiming guitars, a poetic expression of loss and nostalgia. Embellished with cello, Hush has an edgy feel and funky undertone, in the same vein as Outta The Bag but without the falsetto falsetto and with female backing vocals. George Clinton would have been proud.
The album's catchiest song is titled Perfect, an uptempo rock number with a driving beat and plenty of hooks, like something from Cale's creative peak during The Island Years. The turn to rock continues on Sold-Motel with its spellbinding guitar textures and Woman which is characterized by a complex arrangement and sonic patterns that bring the avant-gardist Varese to mind. There are frequent tempo variations and dissonant vocals balanced by an appealing chorus that keeps the song cohesive.
The love song Wasteland has a lovely tune, flowing arrangement and sparkling piano flourishes. Then the nervous edge returns with Turn The Lights On, a lilting guitar-driven rock number, and the album concludes with Mailman (The Lying Song), a churning mid-tempo ballad with noteworthy viola and a tonal similarity to the songs Set Me Free and Circus on his 1996 album Walking on Locusts.
In brief, Black Acetate leans towards the more accessible side of John Cale with at least five outstanding tracks in the form of Satisfied, In A Flood, Gravel Drive, For A Ride and Perfect, a lot that is good like Woman, Wasteland and Turn The Lights On, and some experimental indulgence. Overall it's a welcome return to form and an essential work for his fans.
I bought this after hearing the last single 'Perfect' on BBC Radio Wales then catching the man on Jools Holland's 'Later' I decided to invest in the album. Best buy I've made all year by many a mile. Although 63 this man could teach some of the younger, wet behind the ears pups a thing or two about making exciting and thrilling music. This is the first album I've bought of his and I'm determined to seek out more from his extensive back catalogue. Recommended.
John Cale is in peak form as a master musician. He's rocking again and his band is perfectly tuned and in high gear. The songs on Black Acetate are diverse, current, composed, and as always, intelligent. His voice is strong and clear, and he is doing things with it he has never done before, Woo WWWoo Wooo! "Perfect" should top the charts and describes the album and the tour.
If you've never listened to Cale's music this albums not a bad place to start. In terms a intelligent pop/rock music it doesn't come much better than this, Cale musical take melded with his superb lyricism means that every track although immediately visceral, bares listening to again and again. The quality of the CD it's booklet and case make it stunning value for money, you wont get this album new unless your prepared to pay an arm and a leg for it so this is the best value for money I had this year, fantastic.