John Cale

Helen of Troy - Island 1975

Tracks: 1. Maria / 2. Helen Of Troy / 3. China Sea / 4. Engine / 5. Save Us / 6. Cable Hogue / 7. I Keep A Close Watch / 8. Pablo Picasso / 9. Coral Moon / 10. Baby, What You Want Me To Do? / 11. Sudden Death / 12. Leaving It Up to You*


"Helen of Troy" is probably the tightest sounding, of Cale's three Island albums, which is really not very surprising, since it was recorded with his touring band consisting of Chris Spedding on guitar, Timmy Donald on drums and Pat Donaldson on bass. Cale's vocals sound very strong throughout the album and his song-writing generally on par with "Fear" and "Slow Dazzle". Maybe the album is not quite as varied as its predecessors and the general sound may appear slightly harder and a couple of tracks like "Engine" and "Pablo Picasso" could be hard to the delicate ear to listen to.

On the other hand there are also softer melodic moment with the beautful "China Sea" ( the most Brian Wilson inspired track on the album ) and the ballad "I Keep a Close Watch", which Cale is said to have hoped that FRank Sinatra would record.

A favourite of mine is the sparsely instrumentated "Cable Hogue", with heartful vocals and a Pink Floyd sounding acoustic guitar.

"Coral Moon", which replaced the controversal "Leaving it Up to You" is also a nice track showing the softer side of Cale.

Songs like "Helen of Troy" and "Sudden Death" have a great dramatic feel to them, but Cale's version of "Baby, What You Want Me to Do", though tightly played, somehow doesn't really work in this context, and its a track that may well be the first you want to skip over.

Though not among the very best Cale releases, still a very good album.

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