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

Timeline: 2016


Music For A New Society + M:FANS

Music For A New Society + M:FANS is released on January 22nd. Reissue of the 1982 album plus a reworking of most of the tracks entitled M:FANS, filled out with previously unreleased outtakes. Cale in the November 2015 issue of Mojo:

The rawness and immediacy that comes from making mistakes, as I did with ...New Society, that goes away when you do it again, so you need something else in its place. My motivation at the time was to try and escape, to refocus my life on stuff other than what was going on, and turn into something of value later on, which is a big part of why I wanted to present the album in the different way. My conviction is different as it was then.

Also, (...) I can't easily go back to the original. A lot of aggro and despair went into it, it became a sort of personal exorcism, and I recognise every gargoyle as they come along — even it they made the album at the time."

The new Prelude for M:FANS includes a bit of a telephone conversation with his father (in English) and mother (in Welsh). The reimagined album also has a new closing track, Back to the End, serving as a summary of sorts.

The British Masters

He is interviewed by John Doran for The British Masters web series. They talk about The Velvet Underground, hip hop samples, M:FANS and David Bowie's final album Blackstar.

Animal Collective - Painting With

Playing viola for Animal Collective

He plays a viola drone on the track Hocus Pocus on the Animal Collective album Painting With. From an email conversation with Brian Weitz and David Portner in The Thread:

"I remember thinking my hands would be in a permanent disfigured position after holding the dreaded F chord on viola!! Doable, but not much fun. I liked where we ended up, though. I was glad to be a part of “Hocus Pocus.” When I first heard it, made me grin. That’s the thing about drones, they represent anything you want. No rules. For me they provide a perfect base—whatever noise I feel like making becomes the central nerve system—sometimes evoking romanticism, other times it’s just pure hellish blistering ear-gasms meant to unsettle the listener. You know, write a love song, then torture it!"
John Cale with  Minister of Culture mrs. Audrey Azoulay and French singer Étienne Daho

The Velvet Underground - New York Extravaganza

Attends The Velvet Underground - New York Extravaganza, an exposition at the Philharmonie de Paris, on March 29. The exposition is a multimedia exhibit of the NYC avant-garde in the Sixties. The accompanying book contains an interview originally published in Les Inrock in 1990. Ma découverte de l'underground:

The Velvet Underground - New York Extravaganza
"'Heroin' était déjà écrite, mais ce n'est que lorsque Sterling s'est mis à jouer cette partie de basse, et moi du violon sur 'Venus', que j'ai senti que nous avions découvert un style. Quand nous avons trouvé cet arrangement pour 'Venus', je savais qu'il y avait là un style vraiment original, sale et malsain, indécent."

('Heroin' was already written, but it is only when Sterling began to play the bass part, and I joined in on viola on Venus', that I felt we had discovered a style. When we found this arrangement for 'Venus', I knew that this was a truly original style, dirty and unhealthy, indecent.)

The exposition travels is reprised - as The Velvet Underground Experience - in New York in 2018.

Performing Venus In Furs live @ Philharmonie de Paris - April 3, 2016

Re-imagining The Velvet Underground in Paris

On April 3 all of The Velvet Underground & Nico and the bulk of White Light/White Heat are re-imagined at the Philharmonie de Paris. Besides his core band Cale is joined on stage by Carl Barât and Pete Doherty (The Libertines) on guitar and vocals; Avey Tqare, Geologist and Panda Bear (Animal Collective) on vocals and keyboards; Nick Franglen (Lemon Jelly) on keyboards and samples; Étienne Daho, Mark Lanegan, Saul Williams, Lou Doillon on vocals.

Franco-German TV network ARTE taped the concert. It will be available for streaming on the Arte Concerts website as of May 21. TV broadcast on June 11 - 0h35.

Tony Conrad

Tony Conrad dies

Underground musician and filmmaker Tony Conrad succumbs to prostate cancer on April 9, aged 76. He worked with Cale in the experimental groups Theater of Eternal Music / The Dream Syndicate in 1964 and 1965. Inside The Dream Syndicate Vol. 1: Day Of Niagara (1965), one of the groups compositions, was released 2000. He became a professor at the University of Buffalo’s and was laid the groundwork for the media studies department from 1976 until his death.

He recorded quite a few of Cale's early drone explorations that were released on three albums through his Table of the Elements label in 2001

He was also a member of the live band that was put together for The Primitives single The Ostrich, penned by Lou Reed, in 1965.

Billy Name

Billy Name dies

Former Factory archivist and photographer Billy Name dies on July 18. He was 76. He shot a lot of classic photos of The Velvet Underground.

"I didn't consider myself a photographer until much later when people started appreciating the work. I wasn't influenced by any photographer and I hadn't looked at any books or museum shows. I just took the camera when Andy handed it to me and said: 'Here, Billy, you do the stills photography.' I went to the store soon afterwards and got the manual for the camera."

He directed a photo shoot on August 4, 2004 to promote the release of HoboSapiens

Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - July 29, 2016

David Bowie tribute in London

He takes part in the BBC Proms concert the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK (July 29), reimagening the music of David Bowie. He brought his band and wrote the arrangments for the Stargaze Orchestra for his segment. He performs Valentine's Day, Sorrow with Anna Calvi and Space Oddity with the House Gospel Choir. The show is broadcasted live on BBC 4.

"Space Oddity - I push it in a different direction. I've added a really great street gospel choir and we share the vocals."

About the Stargaze Orchestra:

"I asked them to play out of tune, they played out of tune."

Love Twice poster

Acting in Love Twice

He plays the part of a producer named Lester in Love Twice, a film directed by Rob Nilsson. It is a love story set in the Caribbean

It is their second collaboration. Nilsson directed the Words For The Dying documentary in 1989.

Cale attends the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Rafael, CA on October 6th to help promote the film, taking part in an on-stage Q&A after a screening of the movie.

Poster for the Liverpool show

The Velvet Underground & Nico in Liverpool

On October 24 he posts an announcement that he will re-imagine The Velvet Underground & Nico once again in Liverpool @ North Liverpool Docks on May 26, 2017. He performed in its entirety this year at the Philharmonie de Paris on April 3.

I'm often reluctant to spend too much time on things past - then, a time marker shows up - The Velvet Underground & Nico turns 50 ! As so many bands can attest to, its the fulfillment of the ultimate dream to record your first album. We were an unfriendly brand, dabbling in a world of challenging lyrics and weird sonics that didn't fit into anyone's playlist at the time. Remaining ferociously true to our viewpoints, Lou and I never doubted for a moment, we could create something to give a voice to things not regularly explored in rock music at the time. That bizarre combination of 4 distinctly disparate musicians and a reluctant beauty queen perfectly summed up what it meant to be The Velvet Underground.

Hallelujah video

On November 2, 2016 a promo video for Hallelujah was posted to announce the Fragments Of A Rainy Season album . Directed by Abigail Portner it follows him around amidst an array of grand and not so grand pianos, using the audio from the album.

Fragments of A Rainy Season

Fragments Of A Rainy Season expanded reissue

On December 9 the live album Fragments Of A Rainy Season is reissued in an expanded format (2CD,3LP,2LP). All tracks were remastered.

The tracks on the first CD were re-sequenced and now follow the actual running order of the concert in Brussels (April 12, 1992). The bonus tracks on the second CD were recorded in Australia, Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands, London, and New York.

© 1999- Hans Werksman