John Cale

Fear Is a Man's Best Friend

Song Review by

The John Cale of popular rock legend emerged on 1974's Fear -- a crazed psychotic who could swing from the depths of tender emotion to the peaks of screaming frenzy in less than a breath of melody. The title track, of course, is an object lesson in that ability, a disturbing vision of paranoia which, as Cale says, "is not the sort of thing where you can say it's true or false," a state which lies at the root of all good paranoia to begin with.

Riding a disturbingly pretty piano line, Cale all but serenades the opening lines, but, as the song progresses, so the temperature soars, until what could have been a gentle ballad dissolves in a morass of discordance and screaming. It's a trick which Cale would return to on many occasions in the future, but few worked as effectively as this first excursion -- catch one or other of the live versions out there, and his own affection for the song is plain for all to see.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Fear 1974 Culture Factory 3:50
Guts 1977 Polygram 3:54
Seducing Down the Door: A Collection 1970-1990 1994 Rhino 0:00
The Island Years 1996 Island 3:53
Close Watch: An Introduction to John Cale 1999 Universal Distribution / Island 3:52
Kat's Karavan: The History of the John Peel Show 2009
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music 3:21