John Cale's 1992 live Fragments of a Rainy Season holds a special place in the hearts of longtime fans. Cale was no stranger to concert sets. Among his most notorious are the snarling Sabotage/Live from CBGB's and 1986's howling Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Fragments captures Cale completely solo. His iconic singing voice, rainbow variety of melodies, and poetic lyrics are accompanied only by his piano or acoustic guitar. It's easily his most welcoming album, the one that provides a solid introduction as he ranges through his back catalog.
Both Brian Eno and John Cale have always flirted with conventional pop music throughout their careers, while reserving the right to go off on less accessible experiments, which means they've always held out the promise that they would make something as attractive as this synthesizer-dominated collection, on which Eno comes as close to the mainstream as he has since Another Green World and Cale is as catchy as he's been since Honi Soit. The result is one of the best albums either one has ever made. [A 2005 reissue added two bonus tracks: "Grandfather's House" and "You Don't Miss Your Water."]
Live set by former Velvet Underground member and the ringmaster of the avant-garde, Mr. John Cale. The album is virtually a career retrospective, recorded live on John's 2006 European tour. Cale felt like he'd finally found the personnel to interpret his songs with new twists, new dimensions and new emotions. None more so evident than the track 'Gun', originally appearing on 1974's Eno & Manzanera produced Fear but now sounding akin to a heavy arsenal of crunching weaponry. Inspired, Cale recorded the dates and the band began to tear up a 40 year musical history book, challenging and breathing new life into Cale's work…
Since its initial release, controversy has swirled around this album. In the early '60s, John Cale, Tony Conrad, La Monte Young, Angus Maclise, and Marian Zazeela were all a part of New York's underground music and emergent minimalist scenes. In a variety of formations, usually involving Cale, Conrad, and Young, they played together billed alternately as the Theater of Eternal Music or as the Dream Syndicate. Together they were articulating what were to become the central tenets of American minimalism. They disbanded around 1965, and since then all involved have staked, depending on the day and weather, various claims to the group's musical and philosophical ideas and – more importantly in this case – unreleased recordings. This album, a remastered copy of a tape from one of the Dream Syndicate's sessions recorded in Young's Church Street apartment, was released without anyone's expressed written consent and occasioned a ten-page statement from Young and his lawyer contesting the label's legal authority to put out this "unauthorized bootleg." The record makes these issues of intellectual property all the more critical, as the few obscure albums from the Dream Syndicate are long out of print and notoriously difficult to find. For anyone who cares about the history of American music, however, the album is an exceptional piece of musical history. All of the early precepts of minimalism are present – incremental variation, drone, sustained pitch – as well as the emphasis on group creation through improvisation. Unfortunately, the mix is not overwhelming in quality, and the effects of the interplay among instruments is lessened. Nonetheless, the album is sonically beatific, formally profound, and an incomparable look inside the Syndicate. Table of the Elements should be praised for letting the chips fall where they may in the interest of a more complete understanding of music history, especially since history is still too near to clearly substantiate anyone's claims. ~ Brian Whitener, All Music Guide
Blues fingerpicking guitarist, singer and sharecropper Mississippi John Hurt was born in the heart of Mississippi Hill Country, along the veiny tributaries of the great American river. His moving renditions of “Frankie” and “Spike Driver Blues” were included in Harry Smith’s American Anthology of Folk Music in 1952 and were vitally influential on the Greenwich Village folk music revival of the 1960s as well as John Fahey’s development of the American Primitive Guitar genre.
A fascinating documentary on the life and career of the astronaut and United States Senator who at 77 turned a new page in history by becoming the oldest person to venture into space. This remarkable man has led a remarkable life, from his role as a Navy and Marine Corps pilot to the man who made history as the first American to orbit the Earth. Using interviews and historical footage, this documentary traces Glenn's life from his boyhood in Ohio, his combat experience in World War II and Korea, his years of public service as a United States senator to his long time desire to return to space.