Recording again with Phil Manzanera, along with noted journeyman guitarist Chris Spedding, Cale kept up the focus and amazing music on Slow Dazzle, easily the equal of Fear in terms of overall quality. With Brian Eno again helping out on synth work, Slow Dazzle comes across as a little more fried and unsettling than earlier work.
Even the warm, epic lift of the chorus of "Mr. Wilson," very much a tribute to the Beach Boys' main man and one of the best he's ever received, is surrounded by strings and piano both lovely and paranoid. The more accurate tone of the record can be found in such numbers as "Dirty Ass Rock 'n' Roll," an intelligent, sly demolition of the lifestyle done to a glam-touched chug topped off with brass and backing singers, and even more dramatically with "Heartbreak Hotel."
One of the most amazing cover versions ever, and arguably the best Elvis Presley revamp in existence, the slower pace, freaked-out Eno synth arrangement, and above all else Cale's chilling delivery make it a masterpiece. Then there's "Guts," which deserves notice for its low-key but still sharp feedback snarl and steady, cool rhythm, but perhaps has its best moment with Cale's gasped, killer starting lyric: "The bugger in the short sleeves f*cked my wife." For all of the stronger rock power, Cale's obviously not out to be pigeonholed, thus the calmer swing of many other numbers, like the great '50s rock tribute "Darling I Need You," featuring great guest sax from Andy Mackay, and the quick, almost sprightly "Ski Patrol."
In terms of his own performance, Cale's voice again sounds marvelous, balanced perfectly between roughness and trained control, while his piano skills similarly find the connection between straightforward melodies and technical skill.
by Ned Raggett
1. Mr. Wilson - 3:17
2. Talking It All Away - 2:59
3. Dirty-Ass Rock 'N' Roll - 4:44
4. Darling I Need You - 3:38
5. Rollaroll - 3:59
6. Heartbreak Hotel (Axton, Durden, Presley) - 3:14
7. Ski Patrol - 2:12
8. I'm Not the Loving Kind - 3:12
9. Guts - 3:27
10. The Jeweller - 5:07
All songs by John Cale except where noted.
*John Cale - Bass, Clavinet, Composer, Guitar, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Viola, Vocals
*Gerry Conway - Drums
*Timi Donald - Drums
*Pat Donaldson - Bass Guitar
*Brian Eno - Keyboards, Synthesizer
*Andy Mackay - Saxophone
*Phil Manzanera - Guitar
*Geoff Muldaur - Harmony, Vocals
*Keith Smart - Drums
*Chris Spedding - Guitar
*Chris Thomas - Piano (Electric), Violin
*John Wood - Engineer, Synthesizer