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. Cale with band is loud and gruff, the rough rock sometimes deliberately distorted, but Cale solo is often no less intense, even if the sound is softer most of the time. Actually, on his own Cale makes better contrast between his calm and agitated selves, sometimes building to the same sort of howling he does with the rock band, notably on "Waiting for the Man," which is featured in both shows. By including the two concerts -- at a running time of nearly two and a half hours -- the compilers present a wide range of Cale's music dating back to the start of his solo career with 1970's Vintage Violence, all the way up to ‘80s albums like Music for a New Society and Caribbean Sunset, and they demonstrate that when it comes to this provocative artist, you have to take the rough with the smooth, sometimes in the same songs.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2