John Cale has one of the richest resumes in pop, with experience in avant-garde music even before he met Lou Reed and they formed the Velvet Underground. His record productions include such landmarks as the debut by the... more » Stooges and Patti Smith's Horses. But as a solo artist, Cale has often seemed caught between his sophisticated leanings and his fondness for punky attitudes. Two early albums, Vintage Violence and Paris 1919, were the work of a highly-developed pop musician; later albums found Cale the pop provocateur dominating the show. Cale's a fairly deadpan singer, but the sweet mix of rock band instrumentation and fuller orchestration make --Paris 1919 one of his strongest efforts, and the lovely "Andalucia" one of his very best songs. If the righteous boogie of "Macbeth" sounds familiar, that's because Lowell George and Richie Hayward, guitarist and drummer of Little Feat, formed the core of Cale's studio band. --John Milward« less
John Cale has one of the richest resumes in pop, with experience in avant-garde music even before he met Lou Reed and they formed the Velvet Underground. His record productions include such landmarks as the debut by the Stooges and Patti Smith's Horses. But as a solo artist, Cale has often seemed caught between his sophisticated leanings and his fondness for punky attitudes. Two early albums, Vintage Violence and Paris 1919, were the work of a highly-developed pop musician; later albums found Cale the pop provocateur dominating the show. Cale's a fairly deadpan singer, but the sweet mix of rock band instrumentation and fuller orchestration make --Paris 1919 one of his strongest efforts, and the lovely "Andalucia" one of his very best songs. If the righteous boogie of "Macbeth" sounds familiar, that's because Lowell George and Richie Hayward, guitarist and drummer of Little Feat, formed the core of Cale's studio band. --John Milward
"The cover pic might give it away - John sits in a wicker chair, in a very dapper white suit and vest, staring calmly into the camera (or the eye of the viewer, perhaps). The music on this album is indeed some of the gentlest he ever recorded - pop songs (his own slightly skewed variety, of course...) recorded in Los Angeles in 1973, augmented by some lovely orchestral arrangements. The only song in the set that comes close to a `rock' motif is `Macbeth', Cale's reworking/reprise of Shakespearean tragedy - the rest are slow-or medium-tempo numbers that all fall pretty much into the `mellow' category. If you read `mellow' as `boring', however, you'd be sadly mistaken - the songs here are built upon some lovely, memorable melodies and arrangements, but they're far from boring. Cale's lyrics here are as wry and intelligent as on any of his more raucous releases - there's insight, humor and irony aplenty in these tunes. He comments on an array of subjects - loneliness, history (and the lessons we either learn or don't, as the case may be), morality, longing, love, pretension, art, religion (this subject being mentioned/invoked more than a couple of times), and more. For instance, in `Hanky panky nohow' Cale sings: `Nothing frightens me more than religion at my door - I never answer panic knocking...' In `Andalucia', a beautiful love song, the image of `castles and Christians' is painted; and in `Paris 1919' which I read as a ghost story of sorts), the perceived threat or terror felt at the encounter with the unexplainable is answered with `I'm the bishop and I've come to claim you with my iron drum'.And speaking of ghosts, their presence haunts several of the songs - ghosts from history (Columbus, Segovia, Graham Greene, Macbeth and Banquo) parade before us, and in general the taste and feeling of eras bygone inhabit the program, leaving the listener with the feeling of actually witnessing, albeit it in an evanescent form, scenes from other times. Cale's intellect and imagination (and, again, his humor) are powerful tools - he pulls it off nicely, that which might be handled clumsily by an artist less deft.This is certainly a far cry from the stark and seminal FEAR, and the rocked-out SLOW DAZZLE that were to follow. For a really raw, brutal live recording (and a great, energetic document), check out SABOTAGE from 1979. PARIS 1919 is definitely a transition album from his beautiful THE ACADEMY IN PERIL (1972), which is my all-time favorite from his catalogue, to the harsher music that would follow - but an essential document for anyone who wants to understand the complete artist."
A poetry album to follow you in your life
william robert | Greer , SC , USA | 12/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Paris 1919 was issued , I was 18 . Glitter , decadence & old time music were up to date . John s album was clearly looking in the " good old European time " direction .But it was more than that . The perfect mixture of bombastic orchestration ( Chris Thomas , at the same time than Procol Harum' s Live , David Bowie' s Hunky Dory .. ) , decadent poetry ( it was an influence for me , as well as Beaudelaire or Rimbaud ),insiduous melodies caught me for years , making my LP now full of sratches & rumors, ( particularly Antartica starts here ) I m happy to see it on CD & envy those who still have to discover it ."
The softer side of Cale
Pieter | Johannesburg | 12/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This classic early solo album is like a collection of short stories and contains some of Cale's most poetic lyrics. There is a subdued, almost melancholic air about most of these, like Child's Christmas and Hanky Panky Nohow. The impressive orchestral backing make it less of a rock album than most of his best later work (like the Island period). An exception is Macbeth - a robust slice of rolling rock. The arrangements may be orchestral, but the melodies are simple and tuneful for the most part, as on the lovely Andalucia. The delightful title track with its edgy arrangement, birdsong and "you're a ghost" refrain is especially evocative, while the swaying reggae beat and trenchant lyrics of Graham Greene make this another classic track, and quite catchy too. Half Past France is a sad slow ballad and Antarctica is a moody piece with subdued, whispered vocals. Paris 1919 is a very "literary" album and Cale at his most accessible."
Like it was made yesterday
sarno | Somerville, MA United States | 02/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A fully realized suite of music from a restless artist who knew better than to get stuck purveying crowd-pleasing pop. Cale's instinct is always to push beyond self-satisfaction. The result is a lushly produced set of songs that grow on you, that deepen in your ear, that finally make you wonder how in the world such smart, relentlessly melodic, rocking and rolling music could have escaped your notice for so long...and yet a set of songs that ache to be something more than just "a set of songs on an album." In this sense Paris 1919 is both a consummate example of early seventies post-Beatles English modern rock and a pulling away from that very same accomplishment--albeit a gentle pull. Cale, skeptical of pop music's desire to satisfy completely, needs that edge."
Truly Beautiful Album!
M. Scagnelli | Brandon, Florida | 04/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paris 1919 is an exceptional album. John Cale is an incredible song writer. The lyrics on this album are true poetry. Every song is great. The standout songs are Child's Christmas In Wales, Paris 1919 and Half Past France. All the others are equally great.Paris 1919 is one of Cale's softest, most accesible album. It is also one of his best, possibly the best. Fear is another great Cale album that is hard to beat, but this album comes pretty close. I highly reccomend this album."