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

Promoting John Cale

Vintage Violence

Vintage Violence press release

Issued by Columbia Records for the reissue Vintage Violence album (December 7, 2000).


A conservatory trained classical prodigy at London's Guildhall School, Cale arrived in New York in 1963 at age 21, to study with Aaron Copland on a Leonard Bernstein music fellowship. He gravitated towards radical avant-garde composers John Cage and LaMonte Young, with whom he studied and performed. Cale's minimalist downtown musical tastes led him to singer-songwriter Lou Reed, and in 1965 they co-founded the Velvet Underground. Under pop artist Andy Warhol's aegis, the VU recorded the two seminal albums (The Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light/White Heat) that earned them their reputation as the first (and most) important and influential American band of the modern rock era, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996.

After those two groundbreaking albums Cale and the Velvets parted ways in the summer 1968. Moser's liner notes, based on recent interviews with Cale, indicate that Columbia Masterworks A&R man (and staff producer) John McClure signed Cale within two weeks of the split. In 1969, Cale arranged (and played most of the instruments on) Nico's second solo album, The Marble Index; and produced the Stooges' self-titled debut album, as influential a record in its own right as anything ever recorded by the Velvets.

When it came time to record his solo debut, Cale considered the swirl of pop music going on around him, everyone from the Bee Gees to Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. He liked the sound of Grinder's Switch, a New York band led by singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys, a Syracuse University classmate of Lou Reed. From that band, Cale employed drummer Sandy Konikoff and their producer Lew Merenstein (who had produced Van Morrison's Astral Weeks). Typical of Cale's love of the spontaneous and the improvised, VINTAGE VIOLENCE was "finished in three days," he told Moser. "I taught the band the songs in one day and recorded them the next."

Says Moser, "Anyone who had followed Cale's musical adventures after the Velvets with Iggy and Nico might have been surprised at the eclectic songs of VINTAGE VIOLENCE. Countryish pedal steel flourishes on 'Please' and 'Bring It On Up' appear because Cale was ready to broaden his vision, even commercially. The pop balladry of 'Hello There,' 'Adelaide' and 'Cleo' is as lyrically disarming as it is deceptively simple. Even then, Cale's music was full of witty hooks and sly wording. 'Big White Cloud' was the radio single and its symphonic atmosphere (arranged and conducted by Cale) lingers like the lovely melody of the enigmatic 'Gideon's Bible.' The melancholy 'Ghost Story' and the wistfully lovely 'Amsterdam' are often included in his contemporary performances." This reissue includes two previously unreleased tracks from the VINTAGE VIOLENCE sessions: an alternate version of "Fairweather Friend" (a Jeffreys composition); and an "instrumental event" (on electric viola) entitled "Wall."

VINTAGE VIOLENCE was recorded the same week as Cale's second (and final) Columbia 'masterwork,' Church Of Anthrax with ambient godfather Terry Riley, held for release until 1971. Cale went on to become a 'producer's producer' over the next three decades, on albums with Patti Smith (her debut, Horses), Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Squeeze, the McGarrigles, and countless others. He has worked as a record company A&R man and his album collaborations with Brian Eno defined and redefined ambient music. Through the year 2000, Cale has recorded some 30 albums (released on nearly as many labels!) and continued to mystify and inspire with his work on this year's "American Psycho" motion picture soundtrack.

John Cale ©: CPRS

VINTAGE VIOLENCE by JOHN CALE (CK 65935, originally released 1970)


  1. Hello There
  2. Gideon's Bible
  3. Adelaide
  4. Big White Cloud
  5. Cleo
  6. Please
  7. Charlemagne
  8. Bring It On Up
  9. Amsterdam
  10. Ghost Story
  11. Fairweather Friend

Bonus tracks (from the VINTAGE VIOLENCE sessions):

  1. Fairweather Friend (previously unreleased alternate version)
  2. Wall (previously unreleased track)

© 1999- Hans Werksman