Results for John Cale

interviews

John Cale

John Cale is known for many things: co-founding The Velvet Underground, producing major albums for The Stooges and Patti Smith, and doing one of the best covers of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." So when John Cale was touring in support of his most recent album Black Acetate in 2006, Jim and Greg wanted him to stop by the Sound Opinions studio to be their first guest on public radio. Now almost 100 episodes later, we wanted to revisit that terrific conversation.

During Cale's visit, the three men covered everything from Brian Eno to Lou Reed to Snoop Dogg. And, Cale played two of his songs live: "Set Me Free" and "Gravel Drive," which he names as his favorite track on the record. He explains to Jim and Greg that this song was his way of talking to his daughter about some complicated issues, and why“Dad”sometimes wasn‘t around. Greg notes that despite Cale’s admitted anger, and his undeniable punk rock attitude, a number of the songs on Black Acetate are equally heartfelt and beautiful.

Go to episode 98

John Cale

When John Cale first visited Sound Opinions in 2005 as part of our debut on public radio, he shocked us all by name-dropping "Snoop Dogg," "The Neptunes" and the "MPC." These influences have come to fruition on the Welshman's latest recording Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood. And Jim and Greg were excited to have him come by the studios to perform the new material. Plus, there's no lack of things to talk about with Cale, considering his decades-long career that includes founding The Velvet Underground and producing music by the likes of Patti Smith and The Stooges.

Go to episode 363

Ron Asheton of The Stooges

A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg talked about the punk pioneers The Ramones. This week it's time to look at the other pillar of punk: The Stooges. In the late '60s and early '70s the band released three major albums, and then disintegrated into drugs and power struggles. Now, almost 35 years later, three of the four original members reunited to record a new album, The Weirdness. Jim and Greg invite guitarist Ron Asheton to talk about the band's history and how they came back together.

Lead singer Iggy Pop (James Osterberg), guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander formed The Stooges in Ann Arbor, MI in 1967. They were signed to Elektra Records a year later after opening for“big brother band”the MC5. There they had their first self-titled album produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground. Jim and Greg talk to Ron Asheton about the band's first time in the studio (and their first in-studio strike), and learn about how they developed their signature, primitive sound. They point to the propulsive Bo Diddley-inspired rhythms of songs like "1969."

The Stooges went on to record Fun House, which reflected their love of James Brown and John Coltrane, and then things started to fall apart. Iggy went on to form a relationship with David Bowie (and with heroin), and got the band signed to Columbia Records. Ron Asheton was bounced down to bassist, however. He explains that their subsequent release, Raw Power, is a good album, but not indicative of their true sound.

Go to episode 66

Joe Boyd

The guest this week is Joe Boyd. Boyd recently wrote a book, White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, about his experiences as a producer, manager and club owner in London during that psychedelic era. Jim describes Boyd as one of rock's most fascinating behind-the-scenes characters. He has worked with Pink Floyd, The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Bob Dylan just to name a few.

As an American living in England in the '60s, one of the ways Boyd made a name for himself was through his club UFO. The venue only lasted less than a year, but Boyd explains that those few months in 1967 were remarkable. UFO wasn‘t anything more than a basement, but it featured light shows, films and“happenings,”and was home base to Pink Floyd. The title of Boyd’s book gets its name from track "My White Bicycle," by Tomorrow, one of the many bands to perform at UFO. The song is about the free white bicycles that were passed around in Amsterdam at that time, and Boyd explains that by the end of 1967, most of those bicycles were stolen and re-painted. The result is a“heavy-handed metaphor”for the changing times according to the author.

One of Boyd's major contributions to music is that he is credited with“discovering”Nick Drake. During a meeting with John Cale, Boyd played some of Drake's music, and immediately Cale wanted a meeting with the rising talent. The next day, Cale abandoned his studio date with singer Nico and told Boyd that he wanted to record Drake by that afternoon. The music they made that day and in the years before Drake's tragic death propelled him into this romantic, cult status that grew even bigger after his song "Pink Moon," was used in a Volkswagen commercial.

Go to episode 73

John Cale

Sound Opinions on Chicago Public Radio begins with Jim and Greg talking with the founding member of the Velvet Underground, John Cale.

Go to episode 1

Brian Eno

Frequent Sound Opinions listeners know they can count on one thing: Brian Eno references. In fact some have taken to making it a drinking game. The legendary producer and electronic music pioneer seems to come up no matter what Jim and Greg are talking about. And for good reason-Eno is not just an innovator in the experimental world, but a major pop force as well, first as a member of the new wave band Roxy Music, then as a producer and collaborator with David Byrne and the Talking Heads, John Cale, Devo, U2 and Coldplay. He also composes solo work as well, though whether or not he'll use lyrics, singing or poetry is never known. His last album Drums Between the Bells was inspired by the poetry of Rick Holland. And he has a new EP called Panic of Looking. Brian joins Jim and Greg from England and shares his unique philosophies on writing, recording and the studio as an instrument.

Go to episode 310
specials

The First 500 Episodes of Sound Opinions

Who knows how we did it, but Sound Opinions has made it through more than 500 episodes on public radio. Since debuting in December 2005, Jim and Greg have had the pleasure of interviewing many heroes, reviewing countless records, dissecting their favorite classic albums, and welcoming live performances by great artists. They reflect on the prehistory of the show, tracing its origins to previous incarnations on commercial radio. Then they highlight some of their favorite moments from the first 500 episodes, and look ahead to what they'd like to see in the next 500.

Go to episode 526

Episode 500!

Who knows how we did it, but Sound Opinions has made it to its 500th episode on public radio. Since debuting in December 2005, Jim and Greg have had the pleasure of interviewing many heroes, reviewing countless records, dissecting their favorite classic albums, and welcoming live performances by great artists. They reflect on the prehistory of the show, tracing its origins to previous incarnations on commercial radio. Then they highlight some of their favorite moments from the first 500 episodes, and look ahead to what they'd like to see in the next 500.

Go to episode 500
classic album dissections
Horses (Legacy Edition)Horses available on iTunes

Patti Smith Horses

"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." With that opening salvo on her debut album Horses, Patti Smith instantly established herself as a leading voice of the New York punk scene. Horses was released in December 1975, just over 40 years ago, so in honor of that milestone, Jim and Greg give it the Classic Album Dissection treatment. At that point, Smith had been kicking around New York City as a poet and a music writer, performing readings of her work while backed by Lenny Kaye on guitar and Richard Sohl on piano. These shows earned her enough buzz to get a contract with Arista Records and head into Electric Lady Studios to record Horses, with Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale behind the board as producer.

Right from her androgynous appearance in Robert Mapplethorpe's cover photo, Patti Smith defied all categorization on Horses. Jim and Greg cite the album as a great work of self-mythologizing, with Smith cultivating a magnetic public persona. The record veers from accessible yet lyrically disturbing songs like "Redondo Beach" and "Kimberly," to epic multi-part suites like "Birdland" and "Land." With Horses, Smith changed the rules for what a rock star could be and remains an influence generations later.

Go to episode 531
The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Edition)The Velvet Underground & Nico available on iTunes

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico

According to Jim and Greg, few albums are worthier of the Classic Album Dissection treatment than The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed teamed with avant-garde violist/bassist John Cale in the mid-'60s to form the core of the band, joined by guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. The sonic assault of their live performances caught the attention of Andy Warhol. Warhol provided the funding for their debut album in 1966 and created the iconic banana cover art. He also insisted on featuring German chanteuse Nico on several tracks.

The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in March 1967 against a backdrop of psychedelia, the Summer of Love, and Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band. Its noisy, stark depictions of junkies and sadomasochism in New York City didn‘t fit well with that San Francisco feeling, and the album didn’t sell. But over the past half century, its reputation has grown to the point that, as Jim and Greg argue, it's become the most influential album in rock history. Each track has launched an entire genre, from the goth rock of "Venus in Furs" to the noise rock of "European Son" to the proto-shoegaze in "Heroin." It's hard to imagine bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones, or Radiohead existing without The Velvet Underground & Nico. On the album's 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg tell the history of the band, give a detailed examination of each of the album's songs, and share their thoughts on its legacy.

Go to episode 597
reviews
Small Craft On a Milk Sea (Bonus Track Version)Small Craft on a Milk Sea available on iTunes

Brian Eno Small Craft on a Milk Sea

In the Sound Opinions drinking game, "Brian Eno" is the key word. Perhaps no name in rock gets dropped more than the pioneering producer. But, for good reason-especially this week since he has a new album called Small Craft on a Milk Sea. Jim's“hero”has produced albums for the Talking Heads and U2, he's collaborated with John Cale and Robert Fripp, and he's been extremely influential in the worlds of experimental and ambient music. His new album is another instrumental effort. Jim wouldn‘t put it up there with Eno’s best, but thinks it's a big step up from other recent recordings-especially if considered in the ambient context. He gives the record a Buy It rating. Greg heard moments of undeniable beauty, but he wasn't wowed. He says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 259
The Boxing MirrorThe Boxing Mirror available on iTunes

Alejandro Escovedo The Boxing Mirror

Eno's occasional partner in crime, John Cale, also makes an appearance in this week's show, having produced the latest release from Alejandro Escovedo. The Boxing Mirror is the ninth album from the musician, who can only be described as part-punk, part-country and part-rock. Escovedo grew up admiring the Velvet Underground, and Jim and Greg agree that the match between him and Cale is one made in heaven. Jim has never been a major fan of Escovedo's singer/songwriter style, but he thinks this is his best solo effort, perhaps due to Escovedo's newly found lust for life. He survived a life-threatening outbreak of Hepatitis C a couple years ago, and the music demonstrates that he is indeed very happy to be alive. Greg agrees and compares Escovedo's renewal to that experienced by Neil Young. Both albums give The Boxing Mirror a Buy It and urge fans try to see Escovedo, along with musicians like Susan Voelz, perform live.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
dijs

Jim

“Ah Pook the Destroyer/Brion Gysin's All Purpose Bedtime Story”John Cale

Jim needs a palette cleanser after that last review, so he plays an example of a case where someone from the literary world went over to the rock world, and it worked. William S. Burroughs collaborated with a number of musicians toward the end of his life. And on Dead City Radio, the beat writer read his work while accompanied by music from the likes of Sonic Youth, Donald Fagan, Chris Stein, and best of all according to Jim, John Cale. On "Ah Pook the Destroyer/Brion Gysin's All Purpose Bedtime Story," Burroughs read while Cale played, and the two were a perfect match. Jim takes that track with him this week to the desert island. For more, check out the Sound Opinions interview with John Cale.

Go to episode 255
lists

Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

Go to episode 79

Songs That Give You the Creeps

Have you ever heard a song and been totally weirded out by it? The theme of this year's Halloween show is songs that give you the creeps! These are tracks that can be thought of as universally eerie or creepy to you as an individual. Jim and Greg share two songs each that they think fit the bill, and then we'll hear picks from listeners!

Go to episode 569

Funeral Songs

The complete top five funeral songs, according to the Register:

  • James Blunt, "Goodbye My Lover"
  • Robbie Williams, "Angels"
  • Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley, "I've Had the Time of My Life"
  • Bette Midler, "Wind Beneath My Wings"
  • "Pie Jesu"

We asked our Sound Opinions listeners this same, morbid question. Here are some of the“swan songs”you told us about via email or message board:

  • Santo and Johnny, "Sleepwalk"
  • The Buzzcocks, "Everybody's Happy Nowadays"
  • Curtis Mayfield, "Freddie's Dead"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Corpus Christi Texas"
  • R.E.M., "Try Not to Breathe"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Satisfied Mind"
  • Tom Waits, "Come On Up To The House"
  • Peter Gabriel, "I Grieve"
  • Joy Division, "In a Lonely Place"
  • The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
  • Alice Cooper, "I Love the Dead"
  • Talking Heads, "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)"
  • Billy Bragg and Wilco, "Remember the Mountain Bed"

Greg

Jim and Greg were forced to think about their final day as well. Greg goes first (since Jim predicts he actually will). He decides he wants Sound Opinions guest John Cale's cover of "Hallelujah" to be played at his funeral. He calls it the 20th century version of "Amazing Grace". Although Cale's version strays from Leonard Cohen's original, Greg thinks the message remains intact: "I made a lot of mistakes, but it was all worthwhile."

Jim

Jim predicts that even at his funeral he won't be able to resist one last chance to be sarcastic. He chooses an irreverent version of Frank Sinatra's classic "My Way." Jim shares Hoboken roots with“Ol' Blue Eyes,”but he feels he shares a lot more with Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious. So all of you Sound Opinions listeners who plan to come out to mourn on that fateful day will get to enjoy this punk cover.

Go to episode 47
features

First Six Months Retrospective

Jim and Greg compile and re-broadcast songs and interviews from the show's first 6 months. Performers featured include John Cale, Colin Meloy, Jenny Lewis, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Feist, and Art Brut.

Go to episode 48
news

Music News

Every year it's interesting to look at what albums took the top slots on the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll. This is a much more accurate barometer of any given year in music than the Grammy Awards. However, this year Jim and Greg actually gave negative reviews to a lot of the Pazz & Jop winners including Watch the Throne and Let England Shake. But they were happy to see Tune-Yards' Whokill at #1.

Members of the Velvet Underground including John Cale and Lou Reed have filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts over the famous banana featured on their 1967 album cover. Warhol served as producer of the album and gave the band the image, however it was never copyrighted. And now the Velvets want to prevent the banana from going Apple.

Jimmy Castor isn‘t a household name, but chances are you’ve heard his music, or at least samples of it. He had a pop-funk hit with "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" in 1972, but also a string of funk and soul gems that ended up being sampled by hundreds of hip hop acts. Castor died this week at age 71, so to honor the late musician, Jim and Greg play one of the often-sampled tracks, "It's Just Begun."

Go to episode 321

Music News

2016 continues to be an awful year for musical deaths, and we've had four more in recent weeks. First, we lost Leon Russell, the famous session player and solo artist who recorded with a diverse roster of artists from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. The pianist and singer-songwriter Mose Allison also died recently at 89. Allison blended country blues and bebop and influenced rock musicians from Randy Newman to Pete Townshend. Though less of a household name, archivist Billy Miller also made great contributions to rock music. As co-founder of Norton Records, he brought much needed attention to neglected artists like Hasil Adkins, Link Wray, and The Sonics.

Leonard Cohen But the most significant loss was Leonard Cohen. The Canadian singer-songwriter established himself on the New York scene with his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. That record provided inspiration to filmmaker Robert Altman on his 1971 anti-western McCabe & Mrs. Miller, a collaboration that Greg feels is a key part of Cohen's career. Cohen's records, however, were often ill-served by overproduction, with his voice pushed to the rear. It took interpretations bu other artists to bring the songs to their full potential, most notably on the many covers of his most famous tune "Hallelujah," from John Cale to Jeff Buckley to Kate McKinnon on SNL. But remarkably, Cohen figured things out toward the end of his life. He played countless shows in the past decade and released some of the strongest albums of his career in his seventies and eighties. In fact, for the uninitiated listener, Jim and Greg recommend beginning with his 2009 Live in London album featuring his greatest songs in new, tighter arrangements.

Go to episode 573