The Academy In Peril album cover
The Academy In Peril

John Cale

Reprise Records

For someone who had a lot of truck with abrasive and strange music, Cale didn’t let himself go that far, not that often. This is the album where it sounds like nobody stopped him from doing anything at all, and it’s glorious. “The Philosopher” is one of the greatest things in his catalog, with an arrangement that combines a long, slow trombone part with bottle percussion and huge sound effects, and slide guitar (from Ron Wood???)? It’s also largely instrumental and seems to have no real outside influence beyond Cale himself. The orchestra on “Legs Larry at Television Centre” backs up Cale doing a sort of sketch monologue as a TV director, yet another title in Cale’s Dramatic Reading Library. Really makes me wish Cale had done more albums without singing! Sort of a diseased movie without images. I love this album.

Sasha Frere-Jones

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