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Classic of the Week

John Cale "Vintage Violence" (1970) Columbia

June 03, 1993|JANET KINOSIAN

Given a title like "Vintage Violence," listeners might expect some pretty fierce lyrics and music from this album. But instead John Cale, emerging for the first time since he'd left the Velvet Underground in 1968, transmitted the toughness of the era in quite classical terms.

Cale was and is a rare bird in pop music: a trained musician. A native of Wales, he first came to America on a Leonard Bernstein scholarship, and his classical training illuminates this beautiful record. The sound is simple but luxurious and poetic, especially on such gorgeous tracks as "Hello, There," "Big White Cloud" and "Amsterdam." The album never made a commercial dent, but critics loved it (Rolling Stone compared it favorably to Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited"), and it still is seen as a superior work by a pop icon.

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