Words for the Dying
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Top Customer Reviews
I remember buying this album when it was released in the late 80's and was dumbfounded by its beauty. I did not expect this from any rock artist even one I admired like Cale. The Lou Reed collaboration was released 2 years or less after this, the songs for drella, Andy Warhol tribute, that critics went wild for. This is far superior but did not gain near the praise. Cale has never recieved the praise Lou Reed has and that is unfortunate. I like some of Lou Reed's solo efforts just fine but with the exception of Berlin, most do not rate with Cales. If you are a Cale fan this album is a must. If you only like his more rock catalogue like Guts or British Passport or some of the lighter material that followed in the 80's, this may still be something you may like.
The quality of the cd sound compared to album does not seem to diminish by the 85-60 percent Neil Young claims most digital transfers from analogue do. I think Cale considered this during the recording and release. I recommend this album to anyone interested in a Cale orchestrated exploration into a poet accompanied classically by a heartfelt voice and interpretation of one of the 20th century's grater poets. There is the added bonus of a really good Cale original The Soul of Carmen Miranda.
Technically, John Cale cannot be faulted. He is an expert musician and has obviously worked hard on this project.
But it fails for me on some aesthetic level. I'm just underwhelmed by the whole and the star rating I am giving is reflective of that.
A subjective experience of course, and I sincerely hope that your mileage varies for the better.
Cale has a background is classical music and orchestra performance, so to find him composing for an orchestra is not all that surprising. The Falklands Suite works out to be a bit of an oddity-- performed with Cale as solo vocalist on top of a Welsh boys' choir and a Russian orchestra, Cale expresses himself musically in broad strokes, with a tendency towards lushness and drama and an unfortunate inclination towards somewhat irritating staccato punctuations. The arrangements themselves are fine (several of the pieces get a solo piano performance on "Fragments of a Rainy Season"), it's just that this doesn't seem to come together right. Either the orchestra feels lethargic ("Interlude II"), Cale sounds somewhat disinterested (the stunning arrangement of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night") or the choir seems to totally miss the intent behind either the arrangement ("Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed"). When you're very lucky, it seems all three of those come together ("On a Wedding Anniversary"). Having stated all of this, it makes for a reasonably pleasant listen, it's just that it doesn't really hold together.
"Song Without Words" is pleasant enough-- Cale's solo piano performance has a nice edge to it and his playing is lovely, although admittedly the composition is not particularly intriguing and the piece really doesn't seem to go anywhere.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The "4 stars" are for the Welshman. Not his best album, in any sense, save for one song that could rank among the greatest adaptations of poetic verse ever. Read morePublished on December 6, 2013 by LAURA
This is one of my favorite Cale releases (Paris 1919 is up there as well). Sure, it's a bit of a hodge-podge, with lesser cuts filling out the cd. Read morePublished on January 24, 2007 by Doug Snyder
this is arguably the greatest music documentary ever filmed. it certainly blows spinal tab right out of the tub. Read morePublished on August 7, 2006 by seedwick
This documentary on the making of Words for the Dying is fascinating, not least because it is a bit unconventional. Read morePublished on May 16, 2001 by D. J. Mcallister
I've bought a couple other John Cale albums, and I like this one the best. It might help if you like Gavin Bryars or Philip Glass or other contemporary composers: this isn't the... Read morePublished on September 12, 2000
I agree with the current reviews. So why bother? I need to say that The Soul Of Carmen Miranda is one of Cale's most magnificent, moving songs. Read morePublished on May 26, 2000 by Peter Uys