John Cale


Song Review by

"Gun" is as ominous a title as ex-partner Lou Reed's "Heroin," one-word names and song descriptions being a Reed trademark. Included on the overview compilation Close Watch: An Introduction to John Cale, "Gun" was culled from 1974's Fear album, and has a totally different feel than anything else on that important disc. Phil Manzanera's guitar on the odd riff has a hollow grit not found in his work with Roxy Music, while Eno puts his wonderfully chaotic personality into the lengthy -- eight minutes and three seconds -- mix. Lyrically it is strange stuff, and lines from left field abound: "You've got me cornered and still on the run/I don't care nothing about you anyway" -- somehow the empty life noted in the poetry gets compared to the pregnant barrel ready to explode. The black-and-white front and back cover of the Fear album, with only the title in blood red, is much like a '50s gangster movie; the violence of the purveyor of "fear," a gun, is pretty much colorless; and explanations are left to the words Cale speaks/sings. The pent-up anger of the song is unleashed by two exiles of two major groups -- Eno and Cale putting their imprint on the first two (coincidentally white and then black) albums from the Velvet Underground and Roxy Music. Here they find loud refuge. The definition of the uneasy feeling that is "fear," the title track is replaced in "Gun" with hard rock angst right before the dawn of the new wave of the 1970s. "Gun" found a sequel in Cale's composition "Guts," and is perhaps the most distraught moment on a diverse and fulfilling album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Fear 1974 Culture Factory 8:02
Guts 1977 Polygram 8:05
Manzanera Collection 1995 Caroline Distribution 4:48
The Island Years 1996 Island 8:05
Close Watch: An Introduction to John Cale 1999 Universal Distribution / Island 8:07