Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|John Cale, Bob Neuwirth|
Last Day on Earth
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
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A collaborative masterpiece
Pieter | Johannesburg | 03/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Cale is a favorite of mine but I do recognize that a lot of his work isn't accessible to the mainstream rock fan. This album is different however - only the introduction is experimental and it contains some of his most beautiful lyrics & melodies in a fruitful collaboration with Bob Neuwirth. Last Day on Earth is on a par with the classic Wrong Way Up where he teamed with Brian Eno.
Presented in the form of a play, it's a cinematic work of wide scope, profoundly philosophical but interspersed with brilliant flashes of humor. It kicks off with classical music in Overture (a) a Tourist (b) a Contact (c) A Prisoner before sliding into the proper intro, Café Shabu. The vocals on these two tracks are a dialogue that ultimately leads to the local observer (Neuwirth) discussing the eccentric patrons in a witty & acerbic manner; the stranger (Cale) replies with poetic gravitas.
A burst of bluegrass follows; on Pastoral Angst Neuwirth's philosophical monologues alternate with banjo music over farmyard noises of chickens, dogs & sheep. Next is the duet Who's In Charge and then Bob's atmospheric Short Of Time. Neuwirth's expressive voice celebrates the Angel Of Death with grace & resignation before John Cale returns for the mid-tempo, country-tinged Paradise Nevada. The contrast with Bob's melancholia on the yearning Old China is most striking.
Guest vocalist Jenni Muldaur recites the stately Ocean Life, a wistful rumination with an expansive arrangement of synthesizers, strings, whistle & guitar. The poem includes a reference to "Shelley Winters in The Night of the Hunter" in a list of world-weary observations on the human condition and the state of the world. This piece is haunting and unforgettable.
Neuwirth's elegant dirge Modern World is followed by Cale's jerky Streets Come Alive. Bob returns with the lilting Secrets whilst John Cale's uptempo & hook-filled Maps Of The World ought to have been a hit; the song wryly comments on the changing world maps of the early 1990s when many countries regained independence after the implosion of the Soviet Union. Cale stays for the ballad Broken Hearts, and this breathtaking album closes with Bob's mournful The High And Mighty Road.
The timbre of Neuwirth's voice is highly distinctive; he sings mostly slow, sad ballads while Cale is responsible for the more uptempo `rock' tracks. The thought-provoking subject matter is presented in such an incredible succession of serious, somber, humorous and irreverent scenarios that a stage adaptation would be ideal.
John Cale has produced seminal albums for legendary musicians like Nick Drake, The Banshees and Patti Smith. It seems fate has forever denied mainstream commercial success to his own work, so one hopes that other artists with a discerning ear might discover these extraordinary songs and bring them to a wider public.
For all you tourists out there
Joseph B. Mullally | Colorado Springs, CO | 07/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can't improve upon the well-written review above (the one which praises this CD), so I will be brief. Some of the melodies here can stay with me for days each time I listen to the CD. The tune "Modern World" pops into my head about twice a month, on it's own. It is beautiful tragedy, and while you don't get a top-40 voice, you get a voice with tone, tone which can express more than pitch alone. John Cale is a favorite musician for me; you can hardly go wrong with anything he's ever put out. If he's doing it with Lou Reed, Eno or Neuwirth, so much the better."