John Cale live in Krems 2011/04/29 - photo: Robert Newald
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Album reviews

Extra Playful

Extra Playful

Review by Ken Clark

It is with some trepidation that one listens to a new release by a favourite artist. Most of the great musical heroes of the 1960s and early 1970s have released very poor albums in the past decade that actually diminish their previous output. Why endure "A Bigger Bang" when you can enjoy "Let it Bleed". You really have to make it worth the listener's attention to issue any new product and fortunately "Extra Playful" is definitely in that category. We have waited at least a year for the new material to be officially released having enjoyed it live and it certainly lives up to expectations.

There is something for everyone on this EP from straight ahead pop songs ("Catastrofuk"), sentimental ballads ("Whaddya Mean By That") and even humour ("Hey Ray"), a great satire on the counter culture paranoia of the 1960s. Cale even draws on Serge Gainsbourg's later albums for "Pile A l'Heure", singing in French with lots of disco echo for complete authenticity.

As always, you compare this to Lou's last studio effort "The Raven" and it is clear who has won the contest.

The instrumentation is basic with his current backing band providing most of the accompaniment along with some female back up vocals and interesting studio effects which do not detract at all from the quality melodies and lyrics.

If you thought Cale was going all gentle into that good night, the EP states 45 on the label but of course it actually plays at 33.

I just hope we will not have to wait as long for the full new album.

© 1999- Hans Werksman