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.
On this audio complement to a home video, John Cale is heard in two concert appearances, one on each CD, filmed and recorded for the German Rockpalast television series. On the first disc, from October 13, 1984, he plays with a band consisting of guitarist Dave Young, bassist Andy Heermans, and drummer Dave Lichtenstein; on the second, from March 16, 1983, he is solo, accompanying himself on either acoustic guitar or piano. Thus, the album encapsulates the two sides of Cale, the aggressive rocker and the classically trained recitalist and singer/songwriter. Interestingly, the two sides are explored sometimes with the same songs, albeit played differently.
This double cd pack is more than a simple anthology. It starts with a complete John Cale-overseen remaster of the long out-of-print 1982 album "Music for a new society", along with 3 exclusive new tracks. But the real meat of the work is M:Fans, a complete reworking of the entire original 1982 album, to which the remastered "Music for a new society" serves merely as preface. "John Cale re-contextualises the original songs into radical new forms to resonate with the digital age. Includes a new recording of 'Back To The End' - a previously lost track from the original session."
John Cale's reentry into the world of pop music is a contentious and accessible one. This is the Welsh iconoclast at his most elegant, energetic, and innovative. HoboSapiens finds Cale using samples as the base of all his tracks and using musicians to fill in his ideas – ideas that were firmly established melodically, lyrically, and texturally. There are a couple of dozen players here, including guitarists Joe Gore (Tom Waits, PJ Harvey) and Joel Mark, Eno (and his two daughters Darla and Irial), bassist Jeff Eyrich, a small choir of Italian voices, a choral quartet called A Tonal Choir, drummer Marco Giovino, and samples by a host of electro-wizards.
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."]