"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Wondering Sound NOVEMBER 16, 2010 - by Philip Sherburne
JOHN CALE: FEAR
Sez Christgau: "Sleazy-slick background rock for the glass-table scene in a porn flick."
In 1974, the same year that Brian Eno released his first two solo albums, he and his former bandmate Phil Manzanera were hired as executive producers for John Cale's Fear. Cale's fourth studio album, it was the first in a trilogy of releases for Island, where he was also working as an in-house producer (Patti Smith, Squeeze, Sham 69) and A&R scout. Both sonically and musically, it's a more straightforward album than either Here Come The Warm Jets or Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy): pianos still sound like pianos, and guitars like guitars. Still, it's a decidedly less naturalistic sound than Paris 1919, a record where you could still hear traces of Cale's work with Nick Drake. The crisp Barracuda bears a hint of dub reggae, a style that Eno cited in his own approach to using the studio as a musical instrument in its own right, and it explodes into the kazoo-like guitar squawk of Eno's records from the period. The balladry of Emily is balanced by sheets of white noise and glacial reverb, while The Man Who Couldn't Afford to Orgy hides a cooing, come-hither female voice beneath jokey '50s rock. Robert Christgau called it "the perfect sleazy-slick background rock for the glass-table scene in a porn flick." Brian Eno would know, having acted in a few blue movies himself.