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Cale is one of the most famous and influential underground rock musicians. His musical style is difficult to classify as he can change genres like a musical chameleon. Despite being schooled in classical and avant-garde music, much of what he's recorded has been decidedly song-oriented, though never truly mainstream.

Cale was born in Wales, in 1942, and was practically a child prodigy as he rapidly learned music, even composing and performing on the BBC before even reaching his teens. He moved to New York in 1963, thanks to a scholarship (courtesy Aaron Copland and Leanard Bernstein) where he soon became a member of LaMonte Young's minimalist ensemble The Dream Syndicate (not to be confused with the paisley underground 80's L.A. band of the same name). This led to his next musical endeavour...

The Velvet Underground. Cale was the bassist, viola player and keyboardist of the cutting edge avant garde band, founded by himself, vocalist/songwriter Lou Reed and guitarist Sterling Morrison in 1966. Managed by pop-art icon Andy Warhol, Velvet Underground also enlisted the talents of vocalist Nico and drummer .

A 1969 power struggle with Lou Reed resulted in Cale's departure from VU. Yet this did not stop Cale from working in music. Almost immediately he began solo projects in a variety of genres, and producing records for others, most natably Nico, herself an "ex-Velvet." Among Cale's best work of this era are his LP VINTAGE VIOLENCE and CHURCH OF ANTHRAX. He would also later collaborate with Brian Eno and (even much later) former nemesis Lou Reed.

Jon Cale performing at CBGB.

A pre-eminent producer at the dawn of the punk and new wave movement (Squeeze, Patti Smith, Sham 69 and others), he could almost be considered one of the "fathers" of punk. He even had a staff producer's position with Warner Brothers Records where he was responsible for a number of acts as unlikely as Jennifer Warnes! It was soon after this that he recorded his "live opus" SABOTAGE/LIVE for IRS label SPY Records. His next LP, HONI SOIT, came almost two years later on A&M.

A two-disc retrospective entitled SEDUCING DOWN THE DOOR is available and may be a good starting point for someone with an interest in this unique musician and his body of work.


This discography will cover only JOHN CALE's recordings for I.R.S. Records. Recordings for other labels, other recordings, solo recordings and guest appearances, may be mentioned in the biography or discography, but details can be found by visiting some of the cool links for JOHN CALE, below...

Albums & EPs

SP004 Sabotage Live cover SABOTAGE/LIVE
IRS SP-004 (Released 4 Dec 1979)

Vinyl Only
(Reissued on CD by Deisel Motor Records in 2000)

Produced by John Cale
Executive Producer Jane Friedman
Mixed by John Cale & Warren Frank
Remix Engineers Jim Jordan & Roddy Hui at Big Apple Recording Studios, NY
Recorded At CBGB, NYC, June 1979
Art Direction by Johyn Vogel
Cover Photos by Hugh Brown
Thanks to: Ron Boszko
This album possible through the special friendship of: Hilly Kristal, Michael Mason, Louis Tropia and Mr & Mrs Fred Thomases.

Vocals, piano, guitar, fretless bass & viola: John Cale
Lead Guitar: Marc Aaron
Keyboards & vocals: Joe Bidewell
Percussion & vocals: Deerfrance
Bass & vocals: George Scott
Drums & vocals: Doug Bowne

Track Listing:

  1. Mercenaries (Ready For War) (Cale) 7:33
  2. Baby You Know (Cale) 3:52
  3. Evidence (Cale) 3:28
  4. Dr. Mudd (Cale) 3:42
  5. Walkin' The Dog (Thomas) 4:06
  6. Captain Hook (Cale) 11:26
  7. Only Time Will Tell (Cale) 2:37
  8. Sabotage (Cale) 4:59
  9. Chorale (Cale) 3:42


9502 Sleeve "Mercenaries (Ready For War)"/"Rosegarden Funeral Of Sores"
IRS IR9008 (Released 14 Mar 1980)

Produced by John Cale
Executive Producer Jane Friedman
Engineered by Don Hunerberg
B-side Recorded on 4-track by Michael Mason
B-side Mixed by Roddy Hui at Big Apple
Sleeve Design by John Vogel
Photos by Hugh Brown

Musicians (A-side):
Vocals, piano, guitar & organ: John Cale
Lead Guitar: Sturgis Nikides
Keyboards & vocals: Joe Bidewell
Vocals: Deerfrance
Bass & vocals: Peter Muny
Drums & vocals: Robert Medici

Musicians (B-side):
Vocals, Bass & Wurlitzer: John Cale
Rhythm Machine: Michael Mason

Released three months after the LP, this single is somewhat unusual for several reasons. One, the A-side, "Mercenaries (Ready For War)" is not the same version that appears on the LP. It is only half as long as the LP version and features an almost entirely different back-up band. Two, the B-side, which is probably familiar to Bauhaus fans, clocks in at a whopping 5:50! Among the longest 45 sides ever! (IRS seemed to have had a thing for very long B-sides) An amusing note on the label for "Rosegarden..." reads: "Vocal Distortion Intended". You gotta smile!

Compilations & Soundtracks

IRS GREATEST HITS, VOLS 2 & 3 (IRS SP70800) includes "Memphis", a cover of the Chuck Berry tune (off Cale's 3-song Illegal Records (UK) EP, ANIMAL JUSTICE) on side 3, cut 3.
THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS (IRSD-82010) includes "Jack The Ripper", cut 7...


Here are some cool links to John Cale and related sites on the WWW!

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This Page Last Updated 12 September 2002
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