Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood
Review by Ken Clark
John Cale has produced one of the most vibrant, original works by anyone still standing. While many 60s survivors riff what ever creative essence they once had into decrepitude, Cale takes all the game sounds from hip hop, old Beach Boy records and combines them with incisive words and concepts into a whole new sphere of endeavour. Who cares whether he is using Auto-Tune, a Fender Stratocaster or Pro Tools, there is a sonic landscape here as rich as anything. For some of the pieces, each time you play them you will hear something different that has been layered in. You can hear everything from old Welsh hymns to the ghettos of LA. The gift of the artist is to overflow the fountain, drink deep.
- I Wanna Talk 2 U:
Direct lyrics and straight forward chorus, this would have been the "single" back in the day, ready for "airplay". Many interesting textures within the song make it rise above its apparent simplicity.
- Scotland Yard:
The hunter song, wandering around the city. Many open interpretations are available within the expansive chorus. You can choose your own.
Another majestic melody, playing on all the ambiguity of the persona. Read into it what you will with lots of Sabotage drama, pounding pianos and explosions.
- Face To The Sky:
Another "single", more subtle and infections, "Dizzy as a top on a chessboard/Lifting her face to the sky"
- Nookie Wood:
Not one of the best tracks on the album. It should have been put into the blender with something else.
- December Rains:
Grand masterpiece about the end of the planet.
One of the most direct musical tracks has the most ambiguous lyrics with obvious identity themes or rebellion, religion and relief. It could be about the acceptance of religion.
- Vampire Cafe:
Cale does Twilight as a Spaghetti Western with a delightful viola flourish at the end.
Magritte makes yet another appearance with a nice 60s chorus. Timeless profound pop as only someone who was there can do, old radio jingles shot through half forgotten melodies, a loving tribute to one of the villains on Ultraman.
- Living With You:
The essentials of any relationship painfully exposed.
- Midnight Feast:
Deep sadness mocked with tears high in the French Alps.
- Sandman (Flying Dutchman):
Jokerman sailing across the cosmos, epic and elegiac.
- Bonus 7" (three different songs. Free with initial copies of the vinyl edition)
The blind painter makes his mark over the rose garden funeral of sores
It always takes a while when an artist such as Cale releases a new album to determine where it fits in the cannon of all that has gone before. This is definitely one of his best and blows anything else released this year into smithereens. Get it now and convince yourself.