14.9.09

JOHN CALE : Music For A New Society / Honi Soit (1981/82)

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Released in 1982, Music For A New Society is one of Cale's bleakest & most challenging solo works (which is saying something!), & also one of his rarest (it's currently going for anything up to £180 on Amazon!). Musically it has much in common with his many collaborations with Nico, the songs chiefly employing a minimalist palate of understated piano & spacious electronics, though vocally it's much more fractured & distraught than anything Ms. Paffgen put her name to. Emotionally it's tempting to draw parallels with John Lennon's raw & purgative Plastic Ono Band LP - both represent the (solo) artist's creative zenith, while neither are easy listening by any stretch of the imagination. The powerful atmosphere Music For A New Society creates is at once beautiful & disturbing, & as it's very possibily Cale's last truly great album it's undoubtedly worth 40 minutes of your life. Remarkable stuff...
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Also worthy of your attention is 1981's long forgotten (why?) Honi Soit. Lurking somewhere between Music For A New Society's tormented primal screaming & the skewering, antagonistic rock of his earlier solo records - both sonically & chronologically - it's unlike anything else in Cale's canon & captures him at his belligerent, chicken-slaughtering best.

Interesting Fact #1: it's produced by Mike Thorne who'd recently completed a run of landmark albums with Wire & Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", & Honi Soit displays noticeable nods in the direction of the then in-vogue post-punk sound, though it's worth pointing out that many of the post-punk bands were referencing Cale's early work to some extent anyway. Interesting Fact #2: backing vocals on "Fighter Pilot" are credited to The Bomberettes, actually The Mo-Dettes incognito. Though it's no magnum opus, the fraught (& virtually unrecognisable) version of "Streets Of Loredo" is a treat & the entire album's tendency towards peculiar instrumental juxtapositions, leering dissonance & lyrical brutality make Honi Soit unforgettable listening, if occasionally a little starved on obvious "melody". Amusingly, Cale was purportedly concerned that fans would think Thorne's rich production job was some indictation of his "selling out" - there's a great eassy (penned by Thorne himself) about the LP's gestation here. I really like it. Dunno why folk fall over 'emselves to praise Sabotage but continue to disregard Honi Soit, but they do. And, yep, it's already been out of print for several years, folks...
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13 comments:

  1. No worries, Honi Soit is SUCH a great LP... x

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  2. Kill.Waas6.1.10

    a great blog and a great album - - music for a new society.

    thank you for your work and the presentation.

    may your days be sunny : Kill.Waas

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  3. Check Honi Soit & Caribbean Sunset, both excellent... x

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  4. Thanks for sharing these Cale albums

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  5. Anonymous9.7.11

    I'm so pleased to finally hear these great works! Thanks!

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  6. Anonymous1.2.13

    Superb Album i couldn't stop playing this album on its release .
    Cales most recent album Shifty adventures of Nookie wood has a lot of Honi Soit in its cold heart .

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  7. Most of Cale's LPs from this era were cruelly overlooked at the time - Honi Soit is definitely a very good album, but give Comes Alive & Caribbean Sunset a listen too, I recommend both of them unreservedly (you can find them elsewhere on this blog btw).

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  8. Anonymous11.8.13

    MFANS is my favorite album of this decade; along with "Miami". Proud owner of the old LP.

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  9. Miami as in The Gun Club's Miami? Yep, that's one of my all-time faves too... :)

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  10. Thanks for these. I never had a chance to hear them. They both are excellent.

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  11. Too right. Some of Cale's best albums have been out of print for 20+ years... ridiculous, frankly!

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