John Cale - Fear Is A Man's Best Poll

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Has this been done? Searched, couldn't find anything. This might be edging out Paris 1919 as my fave Cale solo joint. Even though things like "Gun" and the title track give this album a malevolent edge, listening to it this week I was struck by how flat-out gorgeous so much of it is. The ballads here are some of his best. Anyway, what's your fave track?

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend 19
Buffalo Ballet 13
Ship of Fools 11
Gun 3
Emily 1
The Man Who Couldn't Afford To Orgy 1
You Know More Than I Know 1
Barracuda 0
Momamma Scuba 0


tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:14 (nine years ago) link

title track by a mile

a man is only a guy (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:15 (nine years ago) link

a fun song to play too

a man is only a guy (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:15 (nine years ago) link

also, not part of the album, but a worthy b-side:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0eqW7612KU
so pretty.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:15 (nine years ago) link

"Barracuda" over the title track, "Ship of Fools" and "Gun." This album is more uneven than I remember.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:16 (nine years ago) link

really? only track i'm not nuts about is "orgy" which is at least funny.
love "ship of fools" -- there's an ambient wash of sound in the background of that one that is very nice.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:18 (nine years ago) link

Not wild about "Emily," "Buffalo Ballet," or "Momamma."

"Barracuda" is SO MUCH fun to sing.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:20 (nine years ago) link

Title track for me too. I bought this album on the Island Years comp when that came out in the mid 90s, on the advice of the 1990 Rolling Stone guide that said these albums were unhinged. I knew the VU pretty well at that point & had a hard time thinking of Cale as unhinged & the albums disappointed me in that his singing is so mannered, like even his growls and menace on "Gun" sound like a put-on. I like mannered Cale tons on Paris 1919, a top-down classic album, but these ~~punk~~ ones haven't yet clicked with me. I need to figure out how to listen to them right, I guess.

Euler, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:23 (nine years ago) link

yeah, listened to the island years comp yesterday and this morning...the more "unhinged" stuff felt a little forced this time around, kind of luridly pleasing, but also a little too pleased with itself for being so very nasty. the more playful, mellower stuff is what grabbed me...

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:26 (nine years ago) link

Title track for me too. I bought this album on the Island Years comp when that came out in the mid 90s

^^^ essential owning. I got this, unbelievably, from Columbia House in '98 for 99 cents.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:26 (nine years ago) link

same here!

Euler, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:27 (nine years ago) link

wow what a steal! yeah it is a wonderful comp.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:29 (nine years ago) link

guess slow dazzle has been polled: POLL: Best track on John Cale's "Slow Dazzle"
but we could do helen of troy next to round out the trilogy.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:31 (nine years ago) link

"Gun" for me. The title track has never been a favorite of mine, and "Orgy" is the only one I skip. Great record.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:31 (nine years ago) link

Orgy is a hilarious song fuiiud

a man is only a guy (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:41 (nine years ago) link

gun

iatee, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:42 (nine years ago) link

Orgy is a bad Beach Boys pastiche. I barely like good Beach Boys.

EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:43 (nine years ago) link

weirdly, "orgy" was a single! must've sounded like a smash hit to someone at Island.
http://static.rateyourmusic.com/album_images/9d17729210913153a60d4046770fec94/156393.jpg
w/ the aforementioned sylvia said on the b-side.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:44 (nine years ago) link

Went for the title track, but there's a barracuda nipping at its heels.

nickn, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:45 (nine years ago) link

this is worth y'alls time. http://fruitierthanthou.blogspot.com/2010/10/john-cale-john-peel-session-1st-may.html

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 16:59 (nine years ago) link

Not wild about "Emily," "Buffalo Ballet," or "Momamma."

what

preschoolin' life (BradNelson), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 17:34 (nine years ago) link

Ship Of Fools 4EVA!!!

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 17:44 (nine years ago) link

which one would metallica cover?

buzza, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 17:47 (nine years ago) link

honestly i could pick any of these. i love how this record nearly mines the same territory as paris 1919 but with less sonic detail, in starker tones. it's a very grey, muddy record, with weird, dark curves in it. it is also a very funny record but it is laughing at the dark.

e.g. i think the tension between the intended anomie of "gun"/"fear is a man's best friend" and how cale is sort of still mired in his mannered aspects is both hilarious and far scarier than if he were completely unhinged.

preschoolin' life (BradNelson), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 18:22 (nine years ago) link

essentially:

the ocean will have us all otm

preschoolin' life (BradNelson), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 18:22 (nine years ago) link

Not wild about "Emily," "Buffalo Ballet," or "Momamma."

what

This. "Emily" sounds like she's been dead for thirty years. The bridge to "Buffalo Ballet" ("Yes, we'll all join in/And we'll all hold hands") is like some bizarre gospel song from There Will Be Blood. "Momamma" has killer slide guitar, IIRC.

Go back and do your homework, Alfred. Momamma is very disappointed in you.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 18:30 (nine years ago) link

I have a hard time getting past the opening melody of "Emily."

The lurching dynamics of "Momamma" are a precursor to the superior "Heartbreak Hotel."

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 18:35 (nine years ago) link

i dig cale's appropriation of corny English song tropes (at least that's what they sound like to me) on songs like "emily" -- something kind of interesting about the juxtaposition of these victorian melodies and the other, nastier stuff.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 18:44 (nine years ago) link

and momamma scuba's riff is definitely pretty close to the heartbreak hotel one. but on what other song do you have manzanera, richard thompson and bryn haworth playing together?

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:10 (nine years ago) link

Title song is one of my favourite songs ever.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:16 (nine years ago) link

voting Fear

little orphan annie & sweet sue too (m coleman), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:23 (nine years ago) link

"Buffalo Ballet" and "Fear" are easy top ten Cale tunes for me. I'll let them fight it out in my head for a while.

sleeve, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 20:04 (nine years ago) link

i dig cale's appropriation of corny English song tropes (at least that's what they sound like to me) on songs like "emily" -- something kind of interesting about the juxtaposition of these victorian melodies and the other, nastier stuff.

I think that's exactly right. Between the loping piano, the whooshing ocean noise, and chorus of dead female backing singers, it's as if the song was written for Mary Shelley.

I'll let them fight it out in my head for a while.

Same here -- I'm having a hard time figuring this one out.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 20:39 (nine years ago) link

"Buffalo Ballet"

timellison, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 20:44 (nine years ago) link

i think i might come out of this voting for "ship of fools"

preschoolin' life (BradNelson), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 20:51 (nine years ago) link

yeah, that is the one that really stood out to me on my latest listen ...i had gotten used to the sharper, less dreamy solo acoustic versions Cale's done in recent years. but there's this heatstroke, dreamy quality to the studio version that is just amazing.

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 20:53 (nine years ago) link

yeah generally the mood here is one in which the instruments and songs are come out of a thick smoke and it is particularly there in "ship of fools." one of the instruments is resonating throughout the length of the song, makes the whole enterprise seem like it's swelling and growing upon itself.

preschoolin' life (BradNelson), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:21 (nine years ago) link

and then of course "gun" rockets you into the mouth of hell a bit

preschoolin' life (BradNelson), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:23 (nine years ago) link

sylvia said is such a great song

iatee, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:27 (nine years ago) link

might even have voted for it ahead of the actual album songs

iatee, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:27 (nine years ago) link

yeah, it is so good!

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:29 (nine years ago) link

yeah, "sylvia said" is amazing

of the album tracks proper tho, "ship of fools"

the charo and the pity (donna rouge), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:31 (nine years ago) link

did someone end up volunteering to do a VU solo poll? that really would be fun

iatee, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:32 (nine years ago) link

"Sylvia Said" is a little Velvet Underground-ish.

timellison, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:32 (nine years ago) link

yeah, i figured this was cale's little nod to lou's "said" series of songs

tylerw, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:33 (nine years ago) link

seems unlikely that the title would be a total coincidence

iatee, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:34 (nine years ago) link

did someone end up volunteering to do a VU solo poll? that really would be fun

Considering I've relistened to Moe's excellent I Spent a Week... and Lou's Set the Twilight Reeling in the past week, it would be an impossible choice.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:34 (nine years ago) link

The synthesizer part is kind of like the viola on "Stephanie Says."

timellison, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 21:37 (nine years ago) link

Ship of fools, easily.

so confused (blank), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 23:27 (nine years ago) link

Manzanera plays guitar on "gun", right? Nasty stuff.

so confused (blank), Wednesday, 29 June 2011 23:36 (nine years ago) link

sleeping in the midday sun, sleeping in the midday sun...

it's weird, i still haven't heard helen of troy. think this is his best apart from paris.

sonderangerbot, Thursday, 30 June 2011 21:00 (nine years ago) link

helen of troy is pretty unsettling to me, even after all these years of listening to it. like what is going on during "engine"? yikes!

tylerw, Thursday, 30 June 2011 21:03 (nine years ago) link

These 3 albums are contenders for "3 best consecutive albums" ever, along with, say, the first 3 Wire albums. I wonder if that's been polled...

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 1 July 2011 00:23 (nine years ago) link

3 good albums, but they get worse as they go on, "Helen of Troy" is pretty crap in places - does the world need ANOTHER version of "Baby What You Want Me To Do", especially from John Cale??!?!? I've heard Cale say that Island put it out before he'd finished mixing it or something, but that's a hoary old excuse artists are wont use for albums that aren't quite up to scratch.

R. Stornoway (Tom D.), Friday, 1 July 2011 10:49 (nine years ago) link

There's a version by Moe as well (Jad Fair sings it)

Mark G, Friday, 1 July 2011 10:59 (nine years ago) link

I hate that song

R. Stornoway (Tom D.), Friday, 1 July 2011 10:59 (nine years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCsMn__aOqw

Mark G, Friday, 1 July 2011 11:14 (nine years ago) link

Eno/Manzanera guitar solo on "Gun" is all-time awesome. But I guess I gravitate toward the ballads. "Buffalo Ballet," "Ship of Fools," "You Know More Than I Know," all of which perhaps work better in the context of the comp than the in the album proper, but they're still pretty.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 1 July 2011 11:38 (nine years ago) link

Have played both "Buffalo Ballet" and "Gun" live... and I was (supposedly) doing the lead guitar on "Gun"! I'll have to see if I can find a tape of that... in fact, I think it was a medley with "Heartbreak Hotel"!

R. Stornoway (Tom D.), Friday, 1 July 2011 11:50 (nine years ago) link

for a long time, I only knew "Fear Is A Man's Best Friend" from Billy Bragg's cover.

Earlier this year I got to hear the original.

Blimey, nothing like it!

Mark G, Friday, 1 July 2011 13:37 (nine years ago) link

3 good albums, but they get worse as they go on

OTM. I love "Ship Of Fools" but if you're gonna vote for it you're voting for Paris 1919, not Fear. I'm voting "Gun".

Boehner & der club of GOP (Ówen P.), Friday, 1 July 2011 16:42 (nine years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 6 July 2011 23:01 (nine years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 7 July 2011 23:01 (nine years ago) link

Order of tracks is spot on, well done ILM! Thought "Gun" might get more votes tho.

R. Stornoway (Tom D.), Friday, 8 July 2011 10:02 (nine years ago) link

Agreed, particularly as Ship of Fools got a lot...

Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 8 July 2011 14:13 (nine years ago) link

yeahhh, pretty nice results. thought maybe barracuda would get a vote or two. shall we do helen of troy to round out the island years?

tylerw, Friday, 8 July 2011 15:12 (nine years ago) link

two years pass...

life and death and things you just do when you're bored

<3 this guy

sweat pea (La Lechera), Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:45 (seven years ago) link

No votes for mommama scuba, wow

"Turkey In The Straw" coming from someplace in the clouds (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:58 (seven years ago) link

you add it up it brings you down -- what a great line

tylerw, Wednesday, 13 November 2013 15:27 (seven years ago) link

hahaha i just realized after watching several youtubes of live versions of "fear is a man's best friend" that it's not "life and death and things" it's "life and death are things..."
oops

either way, you add it up, it brings you dooooooooooown

sweat pea (La Lechera), Monday, 18 November 2013 02:21 (seven years ago) link

i have since confirmed that he changed the lyrics for the live versions
in the recorded version it's life and death and things you just do when you're bored unless i am totally word deaf

sweat pea (La Lechera), Tuesday, 19 November 2013 02:38 (seven years ago) link

four months pass...

Before I forget I want to tell this thread that John Cale did radically rearranged versions of three songs from this album when I saw him last Friday -- he did Fear = man's BFF, Ship of Fools and (iirc) Gun all kind of in the same cracked carnival carousel sort of way. Ship of Fools was the most different from the recorded version because the original is so sweet and pretty. The songs didn't sound wound up and tooth-gnashy like the 80s live versions I've seen on youtube, but they were very different and weird. I appreciate his willingness to totally redo his own songs! Maybe it makes them more interesting to play. He also did Waiting for My Man.

we slowly invented brains (La Lechera), Thursday, 3 April 2014 19:47 (seven years ago) link

Lol @ "Fear = man's BFF"

StanM, Thursday, 3 April 2014 21:51 (seven years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Saw him last night and the version of "fear" played was among the most hilarious things I've ever seen. In a good way, naturally. Also did a 10+ minute version of "ship of fools" which was sublime.

ruth rendell writing as (askance johnson), Friday, 18 April 2014 15:32 (six years ago) link

yeah! he did that at my show too. i didn't want to give you spoilers but it was so great, right? i love him when he is goofy and lighthearted just as much as when he's any of his other ways. did he do the nookie wood song?
thanks for the recap -- i'd have wondered and then forgotten to ask you

Mayor Manuel (La Lechera), Friday, 18 April 2014 15:49 (six years ago) link

here's some of his big ears set -- sounds kind of cool!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFOf39vRSOU

tylerw, Friday, 18 April 2014 15:51 (six years ago) link

yes, it was amazing, though I will admit that it took me a while to find a way into the groove of whatever it is that they were doing. But once I did I was all theirs.

Ludicrously great band obviously. Funkiest bassist ever.

ruth rendell writing as (askance johnson), Friday, 18 April 2014 16:00 (six years ago) link

five months pass...

oof the bridge in "buffalo ballet"... so nice.

tylerw, Saturday, 27 September 2014 21:14 (six years ago) link

the whole record. john cale rules.

tylerw, Saturday, 27 September 2014 21:15 (six years ago) link

He looks like a Brian Froud drawing.

EZ Snappin, Saturday, 27 September 2014 21:31 (six years ago) link

I just play the whole Island Years comp.

Dear Catastrophe Theory Waitress (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 27 September 2014 21:38 (six years ago) link

six years pass...

* hi, my name is Zach_TBD (Karl Malone). i was a longstanding underrater of Fear.
** hi Zach_TBD (Karl Malone).
* hi. god, this is awkward. what was i even thinking. where do i even begin

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Thursday, 8 April 2021 05:32 (one week ago) link

sleeping in the midday sun.
sleeping in the midday sun.

one of those single lines that just makes the entire song. john cale has a lot of those.

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Thursday, 8 April 2021 05:35 (one week ago) link

note: on Spotify, the most popular song on this album is Barracuda (close to 3M listens, compared to only 500K for the best song, Ship of Fools). on this poll, Barracuda has 0 votes.

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Thursday, 8 April 2021 05:37 (one week ago) link

"Barracuda" is a catchy sumbitch

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 8 April 2021 09:30 (one week ago) link

sleeping in the midday sun.
sleeping in the midday sun.

one of those single lines that just makes the entire song. john cale has a lot of those.

Otm

It Is Dangerous to Meme Inside (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 8 April 2021 12:30 (one week ago) link

Holy shit, I was going to post that I was surprised more people don't cover John Cale, but then I saw this:

https://werksman.home.xs4all.nl/cale/covers/index.html

List of bands includes both Sugar Ray and Red Hot Chili Peppers, though both (particularly the latter) or kind of technicalities:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NzuVBA55NI

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 8 April 2021 12:48 (one week ago) link

Paul Kelly does a great version of "Buffalo Ballet":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4cBcd0IaIA

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 8 April 2021 13:09 (one week ago) link

"Emily" would have been my pick. Another one-line chorus: "Maybe we'll love again".

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 8 April 2021 14:27 (one week ago) link

haha, that is weird that "barracuda" is the most-played spotify track — must be the one that the algorithm has singled out for being up-tempo, no screaming, not too long etc. the playlist canon.

tylerw, Thursday, 8 April 2021 15:27 (one week ago) link

KM I am glad that you are properly appreciating this masterpiece

I like signing up to dead sites (sleeve), Thursday, 8 April 2021 15:29 (one week ago) link

haha, that is weird that "barracuda" is the most-played spotify track — must be the one that the algorithm has singled out for being up-tempo, no screaming, not too long etc. the playlist canon.

― tylerw

I wonder if it's from people searching for the Heart song and playing it.

nickn, Friday, 9 April 2021 02:05 (six days ago) link

I wondered that too.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 9 April 2021 02:19 (six days ago) link

Haha maybe!

tylerw, Friday, 9 April 2021 02:32 (six days ago) link

Most likely

It Is Dangerous to Meme Inside (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 9 April 2021 02:53 (six days ago) link

Now if only Taylor Swift would record a song entitled "The Man Who Couldn't Afford To Orgy"...

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 9 April 2021 02:57 (six days ago) link

“Barracuda” features in the recent Andy Samberg film Palm Springs - might be getting some action from that.

Paul, Friday, 9 April 2021 03:10 (six days ago) link

omg the Heart connection, don't know whether to laugh or cry

I like signing up to dead sites (sleeve), Friday, 9 April 2021 03:12 (six days ago) link

“Barracuda” features in the recent Andy Samberg film Palm Springs - might be getting some action from that.

god, this just hit me hard for some reason

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Friday, 9 April 2021 03:18 (six days ago) link


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