Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Faces and Names

It's hard to know what to do with Songs for Drella, an album where Lou Reed sings most of the tracks. Especially since John Cale writes in his liner notes, "I must therefore say that although I think [Reed] did most of the work, he has allowed me to keep a position of dignity in the process." Cale disavowed this to a certain extent in What's Welsh for Zen ("I did at least as much as Lou, if not more"), but given that several songs are written in Reed's own voice and none are in Cale's, I'm not sure I believe it. Oh, the perils of doing an Andy Warhol bio-album. For now, anyway, I'm going to do the songs that Cale sings or influences unmistakably.

Him and his collaborators - pff.

Anyway, Faces and Names - considered "Cale enough" for inclusion in Seducing Down the Door, for some reason - sounds more like a typical Lou Reed litany to me. The trademark sign is hovering there in the background, a superscript to the whole song. There's the infinite repetition of the title phrase, the focus on identity, the clipped syntax - it all adds up to Lou. It's an interesting lyric, since it is purely from Warhol's perspective. I suppose it taught me something about Andy Warhol, at any rate.

The music sounds like something Cale might come up with - there are even slight similarities with "In the Backroom" from Wrong Way Up. It's your typical 80s/90s Cale electric piano vamping, though Lou Reed's electric guitar accompaniment is very tasty and saves the track from being too somnolent. Cale's vocal is pleasant, but very restrained and undifferentiated - it seems emotionally flat. (Which seems to be the point, mind you.) The effect is hypnotic and depressing.

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