"It still amazes me how many people can be so well-versed in rock n'roll history/politics, yet consistently overlook Cale as basically the founder of modern music. As if making the Velvet Underground art rock instead of just rock - (just look what Lou did with the band after he was kicked out) - then going on to make the quintessential "alternative" album "Paris 1919" in 1973 (for God's sake!) as well as producing the first Stooges album, the first Patti Smith album, and creating punk almost single-handedly in his subsequent 70s albums ("Slow Dazzle", "Helen of Troy", "Fear") and tours - were not enough proof! Sadly, "Music For a New Society" seems to have been the last real innovation Cale has come up with - luckily, it is one of the most interesting and challenging albums to have appeared in the 1980's, along with Waits' "Frank Trilogy", and Springsteen's "Nebraska", it should go down in history as being one of the few albums of the 80s to almost top an already brilliant career - and in the case of those already mentioned - surpass anything the artist has accomplished since."
This Is The New Society
Terence J. Miles | Sutherland, IA, USA | 10/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is still, quite simply, a stunning, brave record, twenty years after its release.
Cale's music has rarely been accessible in a commercial sense, and this recording seems to represent the extreme in that concept. Madness and violence are main themes in this record, but from the opening electric piano riff of "Taking Your Life In Your Hands", it becomes apparent that the route to Cale's no-man's-land is not going to be what one would expect. 'Traditional' rock arrangements are eschewed in favor of disjointed sonic treatments. Panoramas of depression, loss, hopelessness, and suicide sit side-by-side with poignant passages of sheer beauty and forlorn longing, as if to tell us that in our most hellish moments we can still attain a state of grace. That Cale trusts us as his fans to brave this ride through this particular darkness of his vision stongly suggests that we can indeed understand and appreciate our new society only after we weather the storms of its history. And the world is still a better place because we have people like John Cale to express those emotions that elude our conscious interpretation. If you posess an adventurous musical spirit, and are confident enough within your soul to withstand a journey through the darkest corners of life, this record is for you. I recommend it thoroughly. It is a record you will never forget."
Scary, realistic music
Terence J. Miles | 10/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listening to this is like being alone in a world without meaning. Your stomach gnarls, the hall echoes and your thoughts float aimlessly. When the melody rears its head it does so from somewhere far away, as if coming from somewhere beyond or beneath the ambience of music. Glimpses of well known melodies (from other people's music) take strange form, like a twisted memory, before disappearing again. Like reverie, stream-of-consciousness, you seem to enter J.Cale's head and go along with his vague longings, yearnings for something gone. This is like nothing I have ever heard. I don't know what it does, but it succeeds masterfully. Very experimental, but at the same time unsettlingly personal. Unique indeed."
Terence J. Miles | 02/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is like no other album in John Cale's discography. It's also one of those discs where you're absolutely stumped for a comparison to anyone else. It's stark and miserable and powerful and vague, sometimes all at once. The only constant is Cale's dramatic singing and the spare lyrics to each song which somehow seem to connect emotionally even when they don't say much. John Cale has made good albums, awful albums and great albums. This is a great album."
Difficult to Digest
firstname.lastname@example.org | Dallas, TX United States | 03/20/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Cale is always at least interesting (if not always enjoyable) and there are some wonderful moments here, but too much of this record is given over to "songs" that are little more than poetry recitations over background noise. You should adjust my rating up or down one star depending on your appreciation of such extreme avant-garde-isms.If you are a fan, this is definitely worth owning for "Taking Your Life In Your Hands", "Chinese Envoy", and a stunning rendition of "I Keep A Close Watch" (far superior to the version on "Helen Of Troy"). Also of interest is his wife Rise's reading of "Rise, Sam and Rimsky-Korsakov". If you are new to Cale, this may not be the best place to start. Most of his music is much more accessible than this..."