John Cale is my favourite member of the Velvet Underground, and even though his 1970s solo work sounds almost nothing like his stuff with the VU, it comes from that same spirit of catchy chaos. Vintage Violence (1970), Fear (1974), Helen of Troy (1975), Slow Dazzle (1975)… they all have amazing moments. But Paris 1919 is my favourite of the bunch.
Right from the thin glossy veneer of “Child’s Christmas in Wales,” you know Cale is up to something, putting some kind of move over on you, putting you to sleep with strawberry chloroform. But you never figure it out — not in the unscannably tragic “Hanky Panky Nohow,” not in the majestically nonsensical “Andalucia,”** a song that I could just wrap myself up in like a blanket (though I know I’d asphyxiate).
I was smart enough to snap up copies of all his records in the early 2000s, before everything got crazy expensive. Who knows where I got this undated German pressing or how it made its way to the Toronto record store where I probably paid $5 for it. But it sounds terrific, whatever its origin. Shame about that big, ugly “Prime Cuts!” sticker though.
** I probably got into John Cale’s solo work not through my love of the VU (I was a teenage obsessive) but through my love of Yo La Tengo (another teenage obsession), who cover “Andalucia” gorgeously on their gorgeous early covers record Fakebook, about which I recently instagrammed…