Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Cale Is Better When Cooked Properly

Here is a little something about John Cale's "new" album in Rolling Stone. I think he has stayed overt throughout his career, but here are a couple of things that interested me:

"The pace for recording a song was so fleet that one song, 'Things,' appears in two markedly different versions, though both have the same slightly humorous root. Cale snatched the key line, 'things to do in Denver when you're dead' from the 1995 neo-noir film, not knowing that the film had pinched the title from a Warren Zevon tune from four years earlier. 'I found about Zevon's song to my embarrassment about a year later,' Cale says.... I guess I should've realized that that title itself was so Warren Zevon-esque. But I didn't pick up on it. But hey, what's good enough for the master is good enough for the man."
Is Warren Zevon the master in this scenario? That would probably surprise a lot of the overt folks in the world. Cale might be more advanced than I thought.

And here's something about a band I like:

"I was looking at an old picture of the VU the other day," Cale says. "We were standing around at the opening of the Paraphernalia store, where Andy [Warhol] sort of gave us our first gig. I called somebody and asked, 'Where was the PA system on that gig?' And this friend said, 'There was no PA on that gig.' He told me that the voices and guitars all came out of the guitar amps and there were only three of those. I thought, 'Man, we must've sounded like shit.' There's still this level of lo-fi that seems to be inspired by that era. I guess the depths have yet to be plummeted on that one."
They probably did sound terrible. But there is nothing quite as exciting as seeing a band that you know will develop into something really interesting before they've gotten their sound together. Anyway, I like that he describes the lo-fit movement as exploring depths. I think that a lot of overt bands try the lo-fi sound to mask their inadequacies (Guided by Voices is an exception). It is not as hard to do innovative things when you are limited by technology or budget as it is when you can do anything you want. If you've got a day in the studio to record and mix 14 songs, of course you're going to be innovative. You've got no choice. But you can't fully realize your intentions, so we're left with the promise of what could have been--like that band before they get their sound together--which is almost always better than what actually happens when bands get the time and money they need to make the music the way it's "supposed" to sound (with a string section, of course). But advanced artists have all the time and money they need to do whatever they want and still come out with something interesting and bizarre. Lou Reed is famous for looking for the perfect clean sound, and I think that is an effort not to hide behind anything. VU was great at making loud noises and the noises you could just barely hear, but what made them great was that Lou Reed could write real songs that didn't rely on being lo-fi to be interesting. That's why he's the advanced artist he is today.

I hope all that makes sense.

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