John Cale

Child's Christmas in Wales

Song Review by

John Cale's most impressively musical album, 1973's Paris 1919, was very much cut under the influence of producer Chris Thomas' own recent experiences with Procol Harum's Live With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra -- a fact which Cale himself acknowledged when he described the disc as "alright, but I don't want to make Procol Harum albums all my life."

Lushly orchestrated and deeply lyrical, the entire record impresses, but "A Child's Christmas in Wales," its title lifted from Cale's beloved Dylan Thomas, is one of the genuine standouts, a straightforward invocation not only of its title ("mistletoe and candle green..."), but of all the magical connotations with which a family-filled festive season fills the mind of a child ("good neighbors were we all").

The first song recorded for the album, Thomas also describes it as the most straightforward -- "we didn't do an awful lot to it, although it fits into the album very well." The stately keyboards and classical flourishes which hallmark the whole set are introduced here, together with an arrangement which Cale calls "the Wordsworth way: emotion recollected in tranquility." Of incidental note, the later Cale compilation Seducing Down the Door took its title from a line in "A Child's Christmas in Wales."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Paris 1919 1973 Reprise 3:19
Seducing Down the Door: A Collection 1970-1990 1994 Rhino 0:00
Close Watch: An Introduction to John Cale 1999 Universal Distribution / Island 3:20