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(TV) OT But Good: More On Cale


Author(s):    Ty Burr, Globe Staff Date: October 8, 2004 Section: Arts 

John Cale was towing decades of rock 'n' roll history in his wake when he
stepped to the stage of the 

Paradise Tuesday night. He barely showed the strain. Co founder of the
Velvet Underground and onetime 

foil to Lou Reed, classically trained avant-garde violist, groundbreaking
punk producer (he oversaw debut 

albums by the Stooges, Patti Smith, Squeeze, and Jonathan Richman and the
Modern Lovers), singer of 

"Hallelujah" on the "Shrek" soundtrack, art-rocker extraordinaire, Cale was
in town touring behind a fine 

new album, "Hobosapiens," and the best reviews of his career. 


At 61, the man is firing on all cylinders. If many Americans confuse him
with Oklahoma troubadour 

J.J. Cale (John wrote a song about that), the fans who filled the club to a
mere one-third capacity 

knew better. For their faith, they were rewarded with a concert that was
muscular, tender, articulate, 

and playful in equal measures. Backed by an anonymous but rock-solid
threesome of bass, drums, and 

lead guitar, Cale commandeered center stage, pounding on an electric piano,
furiously strumming an 

acoustic guitar, soothing listeners with his Welsh-accented baritone, only
to stir things up with a primal 

ock 'n' roll shriek. 


Songs came from all corners of a discography that stretches back 40 years.
Cale opened with the moody, 

propulsive "Zen," the new album's first track, and he peppered cuts from
"Hobosapiens" and last year's 

"Five Tracks" EP throughout the evening, undercutting their sense of dread
with sampled media chatter. 

>From 1973's "Paris 1919," recorded with members of Little Feat, came a
reworked "Andalucia"; from the 

three mighty albums Cale made for Island Records in the mid-'70s - albums
that beat punk to the punch 

by a matter of minutes - came the classic "Fear Is a Man's Best Friend."
>From 1982's "Music for a New 

Society" came "Chinese Envoy"; from the 1996 album "Walking on Locusts" came
"Dancing Undercover." 

On a song like the recent "Set Me Free," Cale could sing with heartbreaking
regret. But then he'd pull out 

the viola for a wall-of-drone trip through the Velvet Underground's "Venus
in Furs," or strap on an electric 

guitar for a scary, deconstructed version of the Island-era "Gun." The
artist flashed a relaxed grin every so 

often, like a man who knows he's still in his prime, and with his cropped
gray hair and barrel chest, Cale 

resembled nothing so much as an aging, robust Abstract Expressionist

As if to nail home the metaphor, he closed the evening with a wall-scorching
rendition of "Pablo Picasso." 

That hilarious proto-punk warhorse was written by Jonathan Richman for the
1973 Cale-produced Modern 

Lovers album, but Cale has made it his own, as he has done with everything
he has touched and as he did 

once again at the Paradise.
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