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John Cale : Fragments of a Rainy Season

8.5

In the wake of Leonard Cohen’s death it might be looked upon as a commercial move to re-release this live collection at this time – suspiciously and simultaneously – with Leonard Cohen’s final release. Fragments of a Rainy Season contains the definitive cover of Hallelujah (there’s a new video to go with it) and is a song that should now be confiscated from every busker until the end of time. Here Cale’s bold rendition, which closes the live set, is somehow effortless and ten-foot tall.
 
First released in 1992, the album is comprised of live recordings taken from tour in that year, which mostly featured Cale only at the piano. And while that concept might trigger pangs of boredom in some, anyone familiar with Cale’s robust, driving and melodic playing will know that the melding of his singular lyrical style and his intense, dignified take on art-rock and baroque pop, is incredibly compelling.
 
Drawing on tracks from essential albums like Paris 1919 and Fear as well as the then-recent reunion with Lou Reed on Songs for Drella, this live collection is an excellent introduction to Cale. The simplicity of this delivery allows Cale's peerless songwriting to come to the fore.
 
By Luke Fussell