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16 September 2010



Despite having got into the VU at school I never followed up the Cale thing until the early 90s and this was the first solo Cale album I bought (it was cheap). I never bought another one for 10 years!

M.J. Nicholls

Have you read James Young's Nico biography. Cale comes across as the flabbiest egoist imaginable. It's what you might expect for a man with carpet samples on his head.


Ah yes, Songs They Never Play on the Radio. Great book, and John Cale does not emerge from it smelling of roses. Especially in that episode with the Japanese fan. I think that was during the period when his drink problem was at its worst.

But you give me the excuse to reproduce another story of bad behaviour, culled from the Rocking Vicar email list back in 2002:

"A couple of years ago BMG organised a showcase to promote the third album by pneumatic madrigal-singers, the Medieval Baebes. Their producer, not the obvious choice for a classical recording, was John Cale. My misgivings about interviewing him had nothing to do with the merits of the music: my husband Andy Gill had just completed production on an album by Jesus Lizard that had actually been started by Cale but passed to Andy after 'artistic differences' between Cale and the band. I thought it unlikely that Cale would link me to this, but was nevertheless wary. Cale's friendly demeanour came as a pleasant surprise. We had quite a long conversation despite a PR woman with a walkie-talkie who kept making throat-cutting gestures. Then Jools Holland appeared on stage to announce that the Baebes would perform and I joined a friend I'd spotted in the audience. The PR woman materialised at my side: 'Mr Cale wants to talk to you. Now.' Paranoia resurfaced: had I just been rumbled? Cale certainly looked bad-tempered, so his words caught me off guard: 'Shall we go?' 'Um, no,' I mumbled, 'I'm working.' 'Call me when you leave then,' he said, grabbing my notepad to write his mobile and hotel room numbers. After the gig, my friend and a mate of his headed to a sushi bar to meet up with Andy. Somewhere between the tempura and the sashimi my phone rang. It was Cale. 'Where are you?' he asked, clearly impatient. 'Still working,' I replied. He rang off. All of my dining companions, including my spouse, berated me for turning down the tryst with Cale ('He was in the Velvet Underground after all'). A few days later, Cale rang me at my office. He was outside in his car, he explained. Why didn't I come downstairs? Somehow this led to a conversation about my marital status and thence, inexorably, to Andy's identity. 'Have a nice life,' said Cale, and hung up, never to ring again."

I guess the carpet samples comment is a reference to his dyed patches of recent years. Yes, they don't quite go with the senior citizen's free bus pass, do they?

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