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Circus Live by John Cale (EMI)


A double live album from the ringmaster of the avant garde, made with the bitchin’ band he assembled for 2005’s blackAcetate tour. Apparently the ex-Velvet Underground multi-tasker felt like he’d finally found the personnel to interpret his older material with new twists, dimensions and emotions, and so some sort of permanent record seemed vital. Thus, this track listing is essentially a career retrospective, a kind of electric ensemble companion to 1992’s solo acoustic live set, Fragments Of A Rainy Season. Mind you, they only share four songs. The album begins and ends with a drone, the viola swathed VU masterpiece ‘Venus In Furs’ signalling the innovative readings to come, with a radically new arrangement of ‘Femme Fatale’, right up to punchy renditions of songs from his two most recent works, HoboSapiens and blackAcetate. Certainly an essential memento for those lucky enough to witness the great man’s blistering Dublin show in January, when he unfortunately forgot to bring his viola, it fully demonstrates that he continues to succeed in his self-declared ambition to ‘Bend pop out of shape’.


First published in Magill, March 2007

 

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