John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Timeline: 1975

Slow Dazzle

Slow Dazzle

In April the Slow Dazzle album is released. It contains a tribute to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys: Mr. Wilson. A cover version of God Only Knows with the St. Paul Cathedral Choir does not make the album, but his deconstructed and reassembled version of Heartbreak Hotel makes the cut. It will become a staple of his live shows.

Kevin Ayers is "the bugger in the short sleeves" immortalized by Cale in Guts. He had fucked his then wife Cindy Wells the night before the June 1, 1974 concert at the Rainbow in London.

"It was meant to be draconian. Really 'right-wing loony.'"
"On my second Island LP, Slow Dazzle, released in the UK in April 1975, I wanted to see if I could write singles. You pick up on the potential of a situation and expand it into something thqat hasn't been realized the way it is right now. If you push it far enough it'll develop into something else. I don't want to get philosophical about it, but love and all that shit isn't necessarily wht rock is about. Slow Dazzle sold best of my solo albums until then. Most of it was written in the studio. My Beach Boys records were my personal soundtrack. Somebody told me later that Brian Wilson heard 'Mr. Wilson' and thought it was 'sarcastic', which I can't really say I understand. I'll concede a healthy dose of irony, but it's still a tribute to him. Brian Wilson wasn't too pleased with 'I believe you, Mr. Wilson, I believe you anyway'. But the thing is, it's about him and the former prime minister Harold Wilson. So either way I lose with him. He doesn't want to share a song with Harold Wilson."
Island Disco Sampler

"Darling I Need You" on Island Disco Sampler

The label does not release a single from Slow Dazzle to gain some traction. However, Darling I Need You is one of the four tracks on the Island Disco Sampler EP that is sent out to DJ's.

He is paired with Alright Now, which makes Free a big name in rock.

UK 1975 tour article

First European tour

He hits the road with his own band for a proper European tour, kicking off at the Palais des Sports in Longeville les Metz in France on April 9, with Italian musician Franco Biattiato and Nico as the support acts.

He becomes more comfortable in his new role as a band leader and frontman. His bands consists of musicians who played on the Slow Dazzle album : Chris Spedding (guitar), Pat Donaldson (bass), Chris Thomas (keyboards) and Tim Donald (drums).

Chris Spedding:

"John Cale was quite enjoyable. He works very hit and miss, though. You don't get a chance to craft a finished thing. It's a bit like painting a picture by throwing paint against the wall and seeing what sticks - his way of working. It was interesting. Very effective on stage, but quite frustrating in the studio. (...) The Cale band of 1975 was perhaps the most exiting live band I've ever played with. John was very challenging and inspiring to play with. I learned a great deal from him. The only disappointing thing was that John failed to recreate the same spontaneity on his records. I had some ideas but he never listened to me."

Chris Thomas:

"Touring with Cale was great fun and I enjoyed it a lot. When we started off that tour, it was insane, because we didn't know the songs, we didn't know the keys, we didn't know what the hell we were doing, so there were a lot of theatrics in the hope audience wouldn't spot what was going on"

John Peel Session

Records a session for John Peel, the BBC DJ, May 1. Tracks: Taking It All Away , Darling I Need You, You Know More Than I Know and Fear Is A Man's Best Friend. The first three songs will later surface on the Take Off Your Mask bootleg. Oddly enough Fear Is A Man's Best Friend was included on a Roxy Music bootleg called When You Were Young. It is released offically on the 4CD box set Kats Caravan - The History of John Peel on the Radio (2009).

Ad for the show at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London

A bloody mess at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London

A stunt during a show on May 11 gets him banned for life from performing at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane in London. An extract from the Sedition and Alchemy biography by Tim Mitchell:

"Cale had agonized long and hard about what form his first proper stage shows were going to take. Gone now were the projected theatrical extremes of the cancelled Victoria Palace show; in their place were the shades and the leathers and, at the Theatre Royal in London's Drury Lane on 11 May, a dummy dressed in a nurse's uniform. Inside the dummy's knickers was a capsule filled with fake blood. The idea was for Cale to attack the dummy at the end of the gig, but that all changed when during the course of the performance he broke a string on his guitar. The roadie whose duty it was to fix the string was unprepared, so Cale had to take some decisive action if the momentum of the set was not to be lost. He grabbed the dummy and bit at its crotch, but the hidden capsule refused to burst, and he had to resort to a frenzied attack on the lifeless figure. During this assault, in the course of which Cale hit the floor, the capsule did eventually burst, and he continued the gig with blood over half of his face, with some people in the audience convinced that he had broken his nose. As a result of this performance Cale and the other members of the band are banned for life from the Theatre Royal."
Geoff Muldaur: Is Having A Wonderful Time

Muldaur's Wonderful Time

Plays viola on the track Higher and Higher on Geoff Muldaur's Is Having A Wonderful Time album. Muldaur provided backing vocals for Slow Dazzle.

The Roman Theater in Orange

Orange gig without a pass

On August 15, Cale plays the Roman Amphitheatre in Orange, France. He rushes off stage during the performance of Heartbreak Hotel. In fact he runs out of the theatre. Guitarist Chris Spedding remembers:

"We jammed on without him, then ended the show in a confused anti-climax. We learned later that John had run out past the security guards into the backstage parking area. They wouldn't let him back in, because he had no ID."

Producing Pati Smith's "Horses"

Patti Smith insists that Cale produces her Horses album. He obliges and often joins the Patti Smith Group on stage during their encore of My Generation when they go on tour in January 1976. A recording at The Agora, Cleveland, January 26th 1976 is included as bonus track on the remastered Horses album in 1996.

"With a band that had never been in the studio before, you had to make them feel that they were really good musicians to allow room for Patti's poetry to come through. It was not clear to me what persona this record was going to have until I had her improvise against herself. Then I could see how she had managed to make use of so much from Lou Reed and Dylan in the music, Jagger and Richard in the moves. Lou's improvisations came primarily from psychological insights, whereas Patti's were attuned to the rhythms of Welsh Methodist preachers. That was one bond between us. The second one was accepting that she was primarily a poet who had the guts to sing rock and roll. And my job was to show her how she could be a poet and a rock-and-roll singer. she had ridden so far on her aggresive, challenging voice and her charisma that I don't think she was ready for the very different environment in a recording studio with no audience. However, when Patti threw all her energy into overcoming that problem, she solved it too."

Smith on wanting to have Cale produce the album:

""My picking John was about as arbitrary as picking Rimbaud. I saw the cover of Illuminations with Rimbaud's face, y'know, he looked so cool, just like Bob Dylan. So Rimbaud became my favorite poet. I looked at the cover of Fear and I said, 'Now there's a set of cheekbones.' In my mind I picked him because his records sounded good, But I hired the wrong guy. All I was really looking for was a technical person. Instead, I got a total maniac artist. I went to pick out an expensive watercolor painting and instead I got a mirror. It was really like A Season in Hell, for both of us. But inspiration doesn't always have to be someone sending me half a dozen American Beauty roses. There's a lotta inspiration going on between the murderer and the victim. And he had me so nuts I wound up doing this nine-minute cut ('Birdland') that transcended anything I ever did before."

In Excelsis Deo / Gloria is included on the Conflict & Catalysis: Productions & Arrangements 1966-2006 compilation album (2012).

Another Green World

Another Green World

Plays viola on two tracks of Brian Eno's Another Green World album: Sky Saw and Golden Hours.

Cale breaks up with Cindy Wells

Cales' second marriage breaks up. In the divorce settlement Cindy Wells gets the couple's house in California, including a grand-piano.

Helen Of Troy

Helen Of Troy

In November Helen Of Troy is released, the third and final studio on the Island label.

The record company replaced the track Leaving It Up to You with Coral Moon, because it mentioned Sharon Tate, film director Roman Polanksi's wife, who was killed on August 9, 1969 by the Charles Manson gang.

Cale considered the tapes for this album as demos and was furious when it hit the shops without his prior consent.

"It could have been a great album. I came back from finishing Patti Smith and had three days to finish "Helen Of Troy" before I went on an Italian tour. I was spending eighteen hours a day in the studio. When I got back, I found the record company had gone ahead and released what amounted to demo tapes. The trouble was that Island had their own ideas of what that album should sound like. They wanted to include songs I don't particularily like, but it was also an impertinent assumption on my part that I was capable managing myself. My determination to have "Helen Of The Troy" the way I did was not really fair to Island or my management, especially at a time when Island was losing it's percentage of the market, which was making everybody very paranoid."

© 1999- Hans Werksman