John Cale ‘Conflict & Catalysis: Productions & Arrangements 1966-2006’ – album review

John Cale ‘Conflict & Catalysis: Productions & Arrangements 1966-2006’ (Ace/Big Beat)
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Justly joining such wayward geniuses as Jack Nitzsche, Kim Fowley, Brian Wilson, Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns and Martin Hammet in Ace’s Producers Series of CD’s is the greatest living Welshman, John Cale, OBE.

John Cale’s brilliant musical career has taken him down many different avenues. Since leaving the legendary Velvet Underground in 1968, founding member Cale has released a total of 21 solo and live albums ”“ranging from avant-gardeminimalism, through blasted guitar-based rock to full-scale orchestral music. Then there are Cale’s numerous film soundtracks and musical collaborations with William Burroughs, Nick Drake, La Monte Young and numerous others.

Obviously on Conflict & Catalysis the spotlight is on Cale the producer. Straddling over 40 years, this greatanthology contains everything – from The Velvet Underground’s ”˜Venus In Furs’ (Andy Warhol was labelled the producer of The Velvet Underground & Nico, but Cale was really in charge of the music and arrangements), through the thrilling proto-punk of The Stooges’ first LP (Cale’s mix of ”˜I Wanna Be Your Dog’, with piano, which he played, and sleigh bells to the fore), the eponymous The Modern Lovers (the unforgettable ”˜Pablo Picasso’), Patti Smith’s Horses (”˜In Excelsis Deo/Gloria’), Nico’s wonderful 1970 solo record Desertshore (the beautiful ”˜Afraid’) to European pop princess Lio’s 1986 string dominated ”˜Dallas’ and enigmatic ZE label no-wave ”˜diva’ Cristina (the amusing 1978 ”˜Disco Clone’).

Other highlights include Cale making Squeeze sound like Raw Power era Stooges on ”˜Sex Master’ (1978), Chunky, Novi &Ernie’s 1975 LP (the melancholic folk ”˜Italian Sea’), Tex-Mex punky roots rocker Alejando Escovedo’spunchy ”˜Take Your Place’ and his sterling work on the Happy Mondays’ 1987 opus Squirrel And G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) (”˜Kuff Dam’). Cale opines that his work with the Mondays was his most successful collaboration to date.

Compiled and noted by Mick Patrick and Neil Dell, Conflict & Catalysiscomes with a smart 28-page booklet featuring a 9000-word essay, incorporating specially commissioned recollections from several of the featured performers.

Conflict & Catalysis offers much insight into what it takes to be an artistically successful producer and presents a fine introduction to Cale’s timeless work.

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2 comments on “John Cale ‘Conflict & Catalysis: Productions & Arrangements 1966-2006’ – album review”

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  1. The only flaw with this compilation is how can you possibly encapsulate 40 years of work onto one disc? Cales 21 albums plus myriad production duties means that his work must be spread very thinly and extremely subjectively. An overview of his career positively screams for a large box retrospective.

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