John Cale is, without a doubt, one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century.
Not only was he a founding member of the Velvet Underground, working alongside Lou Reed to create some of the most enduring and imitated rock songs ever, but he was also a gifted songwriter in his own right, with his abrasive sound a key forerunner to the punk movement.
It helps that he has never been afraid to experiment. He’s been pushing boundaries in various directions since the ’60s!
Fear, released in 1974, is a more minimal album than some of his work at the time. This song, for the most part, is a very accessible and catchy song, even if it’s jet black in tone. With a slightly disturbing ending.
The piano playing is really the main melodic hook, as Cale’s vocals are fairly distinctive, but on the gritty side. Not that this is a bad thing!
Brian Eno had a part to play in the album, and Cale wasn’t afraid to draw from the talent of other musicians. But the list of instruments John Cale played on this album is impressively expansive.
A darkly paranoid note to posterity!