John Cale Slow Dazzle on Vinyl LP from Wax Cathedral
Slow Dazzle Effortlessly Switches Between Cheerful and Chilling Moods: 1975 John Cale Album Includes Slow Take of “Heartbreak Hotel,” Recognized Among Best Covers Ever Recorded
Wax Cathedral LP Cut at Mobile Fidelity By In-House Engineer Krieg Wunderlich: Record Filled With Subtle Touches Ranging From Horns to Brian Eno’s Synth Arrangements
In 1975, mad scientist and Velvet Underground alum John Cale returned to the lab to record another experiment. Slow Dazzle, his fifth solo album and second collaboration with Roxy Music’s Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera, dissects rock and avant-garde, hacks the limbs off of pop and jazz, and fuses the styles together into a limber, impassioned creation.
Back on domestic vinyl for the first time in decades, this RTI-pressed edition of Slow Dazzle is cut at Mobile Fidelity by in-house engineer Krieg Wunderlich and features stunning sonics. Quiet surfaces, faithful artwork, and the opportunity to hear Cale’s incisive fare unfold amidst wide soundstages and black backgrounds—not to mention the emotionally unsettling content within—make this Wax Cathedral LP a must for music aficionados.
Sometimes jaunty and beer-soaked, sometimes maniacally spitting into the microphone about killing his wife’s lover, sometimes despairing, sometimes sweet, Cale holds forth with schizophrenic authority. Manzanera’s sordid guitar dirges ambidextrously switch to cheerful riffs as Eno’s synthesizer rubber-bands its way through sunshine and smoke-machine fog. Chris Thomas, who recorded with the Beatles and engineered albums for Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols, throws haunted violin and dissonant electric piano into the formula.
Whether he’s heaping neon sleaze atop earnest surf harmonies in an ode to the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson("Mr. Wilson"), lulling you into a blurred, easy-listening trance ("Ski Patrol," "I’m Not the Loving Kind"), or growling a pre-goth era cover of Elvis’ "Heartbreak Hotel” with mascara-running intensity, Cale delivers an elastic range of artistry. Ditties like “Dirty Ass Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Guts” place psychopath tendencies into the body of a catchy pop song, turn up the electricity, twitch, and grab.
By all means, Cale’s experiment was a success. Slow Dazzle is alive.