Tuesday, October 9, 2007

King Harry

Cannonfire in the distance? A xylophone, acoustic guitar, and trumpet-driven mock-Renaissance (or mariachi?) piss-take, King Harry is one of the most enjoyable pieces on The Academy in Peril. It's encrusted with sound effects, viola, and organ (reminiscent in the extreme of Rick Wright's style of improv). And it's got a vocal!

That is, snickers and vitriol. A whispered vocal, taunting Henry VIII. "Who are you, King Harry," John Cale hisses, "But a whisper of your former self. Sail away, sail away, sail away, King Harry." It's very amusing and very sinister. The narrator is malicious, but perhaps not evil - I mean, this dirty Harry was the bastard what annexed Wales! Not to even get into the business of the wives - who, the hissing taunter rather unnecessarily reminds us, "are all dead."

I'd hate to say much about a track that makes so much out of its brevity. It's great fun, something you can't often say about Cale. It provides a necessary breather between the two substantial classical pieces of side 2. The (spurious?) historical references and Anglocentrism of Academy make the album a nice complement to Paris 1919, but it's the album's variety and ability to surprise - exemplified here - that keep you listening.

1 comment:

Inverarity said...

I should note that Henry VIII's son never ended up in the Tower. Edward VI died when 16, from TB and the medicine he was given to cure it (laced with arsenic, heh heh). Neither was France burning at any time during Henry's reign.

So, what I'm trying to say is that there's quite a bit of historical invention going on here. Poor research or a deeper motive? Don't know, can't say.