Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Tiger Lillies ‎– Corrido De La Sangre (2018)

Style: Folk Rock, Avantgarde
Format: CD,
Label: Misery Guts Music

01.   Day of the Dead
02.   Orphan
03.   Golden Castle
04.   The Spell of Maria
05.   La Bruja
06.   Don Hector
07.   Devil
08.   Borderland
09.   Devil’s Bargain
10.   Eldorado
11.   Jesus Malverde
12.   Scarface
13.   Good Doctor
14.   Santa Muerte
15.   Silver Moon
16.   Howl and Moan
17.   Maria
18.   Santa Maria
19.   Contraband

ADRIAN STOUT - Upright Bass, Musical Saw, Euphonium, Backing vocals
TIMM BROCKMANN - Drums, Tambourine
MARTYN JAQUES - Vocals, Piano, Accordeon, Ukulele, Acoustic Guitar, Slide Guitar, Hammond Organ, Rhodes Piano, Harmonica, Glockenspiel, Backing Vocals, Drums

A Mexican setting provides the backdrop for this brand new cycle of songs and its stage show, as the Tiger Lillies embark on a Latin vacation that takes a turn for the worst. An orphan, barely twelve years old, in a dusty, one-horse town... the beautiful Maria, and the drug baron who really shouldn’t have crossed her... strange, furtive rituals and mysterious characters who may be alive, or not, amidst the wild din of the Day of the Dead that swirls all around them... ¿que pasa? What can it all mean...? If only there was a glimpse of poncho and the stench of an evil-smelling cheroot we would know where we were, even a pocket-watch or a distant whistle on the wind... but no, that sound, it’s like Hell’s house-band is playing, and so it is: the Tiger Lillies are going down Mexico way. 
Seemingly abducted from their latest touring performances, the band, or perhaps it is the oddly familiar Los Flores del Tigre, wind up in a disreputable outpost near the Mexican border where the singer starts to tell his sorry tale. In these story-telling songs, his corridos, we hear about the tough life he suffered from the start, as a child accordionist playing bars to try and earn enough for a crust of empanada, before a couple of other lost mariachis joined him and together they were given an offer they couldn’t refuse: to sing the praises of the local drug lord. Older now, his heart is inflamed by Maria, who is also being kept at the hacienda, and in his youthful passion he resolves to free her and demonstrate his noble spirit. But Maria is also loved by the wicked crone, who lays a curse on our hero, and thus caught up in such a web of intrigue and emotion there is no escape for him and his compadres. Yet no story like this would be complete without revenge, and eventually we come to understand that the festival of the Day of the Dead is here to be taken very literally indeed. 
These songs of murder, retribution and lost love make up the album, which is also the soundtrack for the new, full-length stage show, “Corrido de la Sangre”, presented by HOME and given its world premiere on 20 April, the same day the album is released. The show features projected sets and startling visuals courtesy of regular Tiger Lillies amigo Mark Holthusen (Haunted Palace, Rime of the Ancient Mariner etc.), alongside original music from the Olivier Award-winning and Grammy-nominated trio, widely celebrated and enduringly popular for their distinctive sound that marries high-art cabaret with sordid depravity. Martyn Jacques’s singing and performance on accordion, piano, harmonica, organ, ukulele or guitar is accompanied as ever by Adrian Stout’s multi-instrument playing, on bass, euphonium and musical saw, plus sepulchral backing vocals; drum duty is handled by Andreas Winter, with guest spots from Jacques and also Timm Brockmann, the master of the mix. For that essential extra quality, Christian Krille plays trumpet on just over half the tracks.

Eno / Cale ‎– Wrong Way Up (1990)

Style: Synth-pop, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Opal Records, Warner Bros. Records

01.   Lay My Love
02.   One Word
03.   In The Backroom
04.   Empty Frame
05.   Cordoba
06.   Spinning Away
07.   Footsteps
08.   Been There Done That
09.   Crime In The Desert
10.   The River

Robert Ahwai - Drums (Snare), Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
Duchess Nell Catchpole - String Arrangements, Violin
Tony Cousins - Mastering
Rhett Davies - Mixing, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Roger Eno - Keyboards
Jeff Foster - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Darryl Johnson - Bass
Ronald Jones - Drums, Drums (Bass), Drums (Snare), Tabla
Bruce Lampcov - Mixing, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Dave Young - Bass, Engineer, Guitar
Dave Young Orchestra - Bass, Engineer, Guitar, Guitar Effects
John Cale - Arranger, Bass, Chords, Composer, Drums (Snare), Dumbek, Guitar, Harp, Horn, Keyboards, Organ, Performer, Piano, Primary Artist, Producer, Strings, Timbales, Timpani, Viola, Vocal Arrangement, Vocals
Brian Eno - Arranger, Art Direction, Artwork, Bass, Bells, Composer, Cover Photo, Design, Drums, Drums (Snare), Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, Melody Arrangement, Mixing, Native American Drums, Omnichord, Organ, Performer, Photography, Primary Artist, Producer, Pulse Organ, Rhythm, Slide Guitar, Treatments, Viola Arrangement, Vocal Arrangement, Vocal Harmony, Vocals, Vocals (Background)

The calls came around 5:30 in the morning. Brian Eno fumbled to the phone and heard an excitable Welsh voice on the other end. “Eno! I’ve had an idea!” 
It was London, 1974, and Eno was serving as an “ideas consultancy” for John Cale, who was making his fourth solo album Fear. “I was a kind of consultant or advisor...John was using me to bounce ideas off of, and get reactions from,” he said the following year. “It was a very intense month.” A journalist visiting the Fear sessions found Cale constantly switching instruments and holding court with various visitors while Eno brewed tea and attempted to bring a bit of normalcy to the operation. 
These roles—Cale as whirlwind; Eno as accountant—would define their working relationship. After a brief period of camaraderie in the early ’70s (they once crossed into East Berlin together to be stared at by the East Berliners), their studio collaborations became sporadic courtesies. Eno treated Cale tracks like “The Jeweller” and “Helen of Troy”; Cale played viola on Another Green World’s “Sky Saw” and “Golden Hours.” “There was a lot of substance abuse going on,” Cale recalled to Eno’s biographer David Sheppard. “It was obvious to Brian at that point that I was pretty incorrigible...” Once while dining with Eno, Cale set fire to the check. Eno “was helpless with laughter, screaming, ‘Oh horseplay!’ while the bill was in flames in the ashtray.” 
Cale was unlike many of Eno’s other collaborators. Six years Eno’s elder, he’d worked with La Monte Young and had recorded The Velvet Underground and Nico when Eno was still in art school. A skilled violist and pianist, he couldn’t be intimidated in the studio by a self-confessed “non-musician.” Recording with Cale meant raucous musical debate with no moderator. Cale seemed to live by an internal set of Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards. “Bursts of genius interspersed with oceans of inattention,” as Eno described Cale’s working methods. 
In October 1990, they finally released a full collaboration: Wrong Way Up. Though it marks Eno’s first “song” album since 1977’s Before and After Science, and despite being among Eno and Cale’s loveliest, most accessible records, Wrong Way Up has faded from view—out of print on CD and vinyl (despite having been reissued in 2005), not streaming on Spotify. 
Its credits read as if dictated by negotiation—most songs were “written and composed” by Eno and Cale, with care taken to note who wrote which lyrics. Eno was producer, Cale “co-producer.” In promo interviews, both admitted they hadn’t gotten on at times, or apparently much of the time. Eno reportedly called Cale irrational. Cale said Eno “would listen to what you said, but he really didn’t have much patience with it...I haven’t figured out yet what Brian’s notion of cooperation, or collaboration, is.” 
Yet Wrong Way Up would be far more euphoric than either expected. Eno said, “We both started out thinking it would be quite stark and sort of, industrial...perhaps slightly Eraserhead in feeling.” In the first post-Cold War spring, with the Berlin Wall down and Nelson Mandela freed, “the feelings were hopeful. It was ’Hey, the future looks good.’” Eno was enjoying the World Cup that year and his wife, Anthea Norman-Taylor, recently had given birth to a daughter. “All those elements, those loops, combined in that particular way,” he said. “The World Cup, my daughter, and me singing again. And John, of course. He’s another loop, combining.” 
It began the year before. Cale, having set four Dylan Thomas poems to music, sent a tape of a live performance to Eno. As his label had developed contacts in the Soviet Union, Eno told Cale he could get the pieces recorded by a top-rank orchestra in Moscow for a fraction of what it would cost in the West. And he agreed to produce. 
A video documentary was made of the Words for the Dying sessions, in April 1989. Throughout, Eno seems irked, flipping off the cameraman, holding a clipboard in front of his face. (Cale has no qualms about being filmed, even when caught screaming “fuck!” in frustration while recording a boys’ choir.) Then, in a sequence caught via monitor camera, Eno and Cale whisk a song together. 
A double bassist, the late Rodion Azarkhin, has come in for an orchestral session. Spurred to write a new piece for Azarkhin, Cale sits at the piano, Eno hovering over his shoulder. “This beat doesn't have to have blue notes like jazz does, but that sort of...smoky pace,” Eno says. He keeps time by waving a pen, Cale drums out chords. They move to the control room, giving instructions like “play simple harmonics in between the verses” (Cale) and “get him loosened up, not stuck onto one idea—find something he likes to play” (Eno). Eno mimes playing the double bass; Cale yawns and does a crossword puzzle. It’s like watching two lobes of the same brain interact. 
While filling out the album back in the UK, Cale sensed that Eno was growing comfortable with vocal songs again and proposed a full collaboration. It would be a pop album; Eno would sing on it; he would tour with Cale for it. Eno tacitly accepted the terms. Getting Eno to sing again on record was a coup. He spent the ’80s making ambient instrumental albums, mulling ideas like “quiet clubs” and “research gardening,” working on video sculptures and projects like a Tropical Rainforest Sound Installation for the World Financial Center, and being half of the production team that delivered U2’s The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. As late as September 1989, he told a radio interviewer, “I’m sure I could, if someone held a gun to my head, crank out a record of songs, but at this point in time I know it wouldn’t be any good, because there’s no conviction to carry it forward.” 
Yet nine months later, Eno was in his home studio—in his grand Victorian house in Woodbridge, Suffolk—working on a record of songs with Cale. He’d missed singing, it turned out. Visitors often found Eno humming or singing while in the kitchen. He’d been listening to gospel and Arabic music, and had never lost his love for doo-wop. He and Daniel Lanois had even recently recorded a version of “You Don’t Miss Your Water” for the Married To the Mob soundtrack (it would be a bonus track on Wrong Way Up’s reissue). 
If he would return to singing, however, he’d “mass the voices so that the ’individuality’ of a single voice is lost in the crowd.” Eno’s voice was wonderfully described by Geeta Dayal as “paper-thin like a piece of phyllo dough: it stacks well on itself, giving way to a layered, golden richness.” It was made for harmonies. He’d improved as a singer—where he’d sung nasally in the ’70s, he now favored his chest voice, lower in pitch and rounder in tone, with more ornamentation. 
Eno would sing nonsense words to create cadences, then develop syllabic rhythms, then move to full phrases (some of his notes are found on the inner sleeve: phrases depicted as em-dashes). “He works out his melodies and lyrics by locking himself up and just starting to sing,” Cale recalled in 1990. “He starts with vowels and works his way into consonants. He’d be in the studio late at night doing that while I would be able to get out and go play squash.” Wrong Way Up is compellingly singable, laced through with melodies—lines like “I am the termite of temptation!” are phrased like hymns. 
Under Eno and Cale’s vocals were loops and circles—Wrong Way Up as a collection of orbits. “I am the wheel,” as Eno sings in “Lay My Love,” a track that spins like an orrery—snare fills, 16th-notes on synthesized cymbal, rhythm guitar, a two-phrase violin loop, “cowbell” fills, all circling a central sequencer pulse. The album’s title comes from “Empty Frame,” a sea shanty about a cursed ship going around in circles, never returning to port. The rhythm section, Daniel Lanois’ touring group of Ronald Jones and Daryl Johnson, was broken into shards—a kick drum loop, a sinking root note, an isolated snare hit—and shuffled through tracks. For “Crime in the Desert,” a Cale Western with drive-in gambling and a body left on a racetrack, Cale played a circling boogie-woogie piano riff into a sequencer, which Eno edited into a loop, against which Cale played another piano riff. 
There’s also a homemade quality to Wrong Way Up, a sense of being scrapped together from whatever was lying around Eno’s “state-of-the-art 1979” studio (as he called it in the ’90s). He mainly used his storied, “unsophisticated” Yamaha DX7 synth. See the various bottle-clinks and UFO probe whirrs, or the cicada percussion on “Cordoba.” Beats came from the DX7 or a Linn M1, the latter’s beats “severely treated so that they become more industrial sounding than the M1 would normally allow.” Cale and Eno sang into an “old beaten up Shure SM58 microphone...the cheapest basic rock ’n’ roll mike you can get,” their vocals run through an equally old Neve limiter/compressor. 
After three weeks’ work, a few other musicians came in, cutting their parts in a few days. Robert Ahwai, the album’s quiet hero, played rhythm guitar that makes tracks like “Spinning Away” and “One Word” sing. Nell Catchpole was the guest star, her soaring violin heard on the opener “Lay My Love” and closer “The River.” 
Eno’s studio was bright and airy, with windows that let onto the garden. “Birds would come and sing at the window, for god’s sake!” Cale recalled. He was Eno’s houseguest. When he arrived, Eno had some rhythm tracks done, but Cale’s work habits hadn’t changed. Eno would find Cale reading newspapers and making business calls while listening to playback. And Cale considered Eno to be a control freak, often bristling at his suggestions. It being his studio, Eno had the home-field advantage. 
The mood in the studio became that of two only children made to play together by their parents. Eno described it as being like “cabin fever.” Cale missed his wife and young daughter. Tensions culminated when, after one sharp argument, Cale turned to see an angry Eno coming towards him, a chopstick clenched in his hand. “Imagine, being frightened by Brian Eno!...The whole idea is ridiculous,” Cale said. In his autobiography, he said Eno had rattled him. “What if it had been a knife? On his private property, I was an interloper.” Cale called his manager in a panic, saying he needed to check into a hotel. (For his part, Eno said he had no memory of the chopstick attack. He felt Cale’s book “gave an unfavorable and sometimes downright untrue version of what had happened during the making of [Wrong Way Up]”). 
There’s something performative in these antics—as if they subconsciously knew they worked best when they dreamed of garroting each other. Eno once compared their relationship to what “may have existed between two neighboring principalities in pre-Bismarck Germany: constant sorties across the frontier and occasional truces and treaties and occasional coincidences of purpose.” Cale’s most essential complaints about Wrong Way Up were that Eno kept monkeying with the mix after he left and, most of all, that he’d reneged on his promise to tour the album. The album’s grotesque cover came from the set design of the Eno/Cale tour that never was—giant playing cards, with their heads at dagger points from the other. 
On one spin of Wrong Way Up, Eno seems to dominate. He gets the spotlight numbers and the opening and closing songs. Another listen finds Cale holding his own territory. His songs have his usual mercenaries, drug-runners and itinerants, but he also gets the big pop moment, “Been There Done That,” his and Eno’s high-water mark on the U.S. charts (peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart). Seemingly mixed for transistor radio, it has Cale heartily singing over what sounds like repurposed video game soundtrack chips. 
While Eno said that “nothing about this record was particularly democratic,” they influenced each other in subtle ways. Eno recalled “In the Backroom” as being “entirely” Cale’s, but it’s the production touches that linger in the memory—the ominous fade-in, like a noir opening credits sequence; swirls of guitar and synthesizer that move in strange dances through the mix; how Cale’s voice grows so distorted at times that it seems to be breaking apart, a blocked transmission. 
”One Word,” however, was an eye-to-eye collaboration—Cale offering a line, Eno volleying one back. In refrains, Cale soars over a company of Enos. Each sings a separate refrain but also answers each other: 
You say——one word
the same——one sound
thing——it makes the world
again——go round... 
At its best, Wrong Way Up is as sublime as anything Eno and Cale ever did. “Cordoba” came from Eno reading Hugo’s Latin-American Spanish In Three Months. The book had short, declarative English sentences, the bones of the Spanish phrases the learner was meant to recite: The man was sleeping under the tree. He wrote to me from Cordoba. He put the suitcase under the bed. The elevator stopped between the two floors. The sentences, just by being arranged in sets, became a mystery novel, Eno thought. Who is the Cordoban? Why does the elevator stop between floors? What’s under the bed? It suggested a scenario to him, of terrorist lovers who don’t know each other’s real identities, plotting to plant a bomb on a bus. Cale gave the lines a slow, haunted phrasing—”the way he sings it is this strange combination—sinister and tender at the same time.” Cale seems startled by details as he sings them, like he’s suddenly recalling pieces of a dream. 
Then there’s “Spinning Away,” a song so lovely that even a cover by Sugar Ray couldn’t ruin it. Eno built it as collisions of speed, with a rolling, off-balance rhythmic base over which Eno’s vocals and Catchpole’s violin (the latter playing in a different time signature) bob like boats. 
”Spinning away, like the night sky at Arles.” It’s Eno as Van Gogh painting The Starry Night, but not the hippie saint of Don McLean’s “Vincent” or a century’s worth of tormented artist biopics. It’s Van Gogh as an Eno, as a craftsman: working up sketches, drafting in pencil, moving to oils, bringing the night sky down into the frame of his canvas, making threads from loops and dots. He steps back to see the whole. “I have no idea exactly what I’ve drawn,” he sings. “Some kind of change.” The hub of the album’s circles, “Spinning Away” sings the making of itself. Along with “The River,” it’s the most beautiful vocal that Eno ever sang. 
The fruit of a sunnier time, Wrong Way Up, made by two quarrelsome fathers who would never collaborate in this capacity again, is a set of miniatures, full of spies and sailors, turncoats and magicians, Cordobans and the Mona Lisa’s eyes. It’s the closest that a pop record has come to a Joseph Cornell box. Songs are played on “Scarlatti piano,” “dark guitar” and “fairground organ,” are garnished with Shinto bell, dumbek, “little Nigerian organ,” and tabla. The joy of finding the right accumulations. It’s an album of movement, even if moving in a loop. As Cale and Eno sing in “One Word,” “If it all fades away, let it all fade dancing away.”
Chris O’Leary / Pitchfork 

Lou Reed ‎– New York (1989)

Style: Art Rock, Rock & Roll
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Sire

01.   Romeo Had Juliette
02.   Halloween Parade
03.   Dirty Blvd
04.   Endless Cycle
05.   There Is No Time
06.   Last Great American Whale
07.   Beginning Of A Great Adventure
08.   Busload Of Faith
09.   Sick Of You
10.   Hold On
11.   Good Evening Mr. Waldheim
12.   Xmas In February
13.   Strawman
14.   Dime Store Mystery

Bass – Rob Wasserman
Drums – Fred Maher
Guitar – Mike Rathke
Songwriter – Lou Reed
Producer – Fred Maher, Lou Reed

New York City figured so prominently in Lou Reed's music for so long that it's surprising it took him until 1989 to make an album simply called New York, a set of 14 scenes and sketches that represents the strongest, best-realized set of songs of Reed's solo career. While Reed's 1982 comeback, The Blue Mask, sometimes found him reaching for effects, New York's accumulated details and deft caricatures hit bull's-eye after bull's-eye for 57 minutes, and do so with an easy stride and striking lyrical facility. New York also found Reed writing about the larger world rather than personal concerns for a change, and in the beautiful, decaying heart of New York City, he found plenty to talk about -- the devastating impact of AIDS in "Halloween Parade," the vicious circle of child abuse "Endless Cycle," the plight of the homeless in "Xmas in February" -- and even on the songs where he pointedly mounts a soapbox, Reed does so with an intelligence and smart-assed wit that makes him sound opinionated rather than preachy -- like a New Yorker. And when Reed does look into his own life, it's with humor and perception; "Beginning of a Great Adventure" is a hilarious meditation on the possibilities of parenthood, and "Dime Store Mystery" is a moving elegy to his former patron Andy Warhol. Reed also unveiled a new band on this set, and while guitarist Mike Rathke didn't challenge Reed the way Robert Quine did, Reed wasn't needing much prodding to play at the peak of his form, and Ron Wasserman proved Reed's superb taste in bass players had not failed him. Produced with subtle intelligence and a minimum of flash, New York is a masterpiece of literate, adult rock & roll, and the finest album of Reed's solo career.
 Mark Deming / AllMusic

Lou Reed / John Cale ‎– Songs For Drella (1990)

Style: Art Rock, Alternative Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Sire, Warner Bros. Records

01.   Smalltown
02.   Open House
03.   Style It Takes
04.   Work
05.   Trouble With Classicists
06.   Starlight
07.   Faces And Names
08.   Images
09.   Slip Away (A Warning)
10.   It Wasn't Me
11.   I Believe
12.   Nobody But You
13.   A Dream
14.   Forever Changed
15.   Hello It's Me

Guitar – Lou Reed
Keyboards – John Cale
Viola – John Cale
Vocals – John Cale, Lou Reed
Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Mixed By – Jeremy Darby, John Cale, Lou Reed, Michael Rathke
Producer – John Cale, Lou Reed
Recorded By – Jeremy Darby
Written-By – John Cale, Lou Reed

Regardless of whether it’s because it marks a crucial chapter in music history or simply because we can’t help but watch a train wreck, any talk about the shared legacies of Lou Reed and John Cale inevitably turns to the gory details about the prolonged pissing contest the two artists have had over the years. Ever since that fateful day Cale was unceremoniously ousted from the Velvet Underground at the behest of a control-mongering Reed -let’s be honest here – the two men have had a bizarre and often contentious sparring match that rivals any type of melodrama you’ll see in a television soap opera. 
Yet for all the hard feelings, bruised egos and darts thrown about in print media since Cale’s departure, the two men’s limited post-Velvets collaborations have mostly been respectable. Reed and Cale shared a stage with singer and cautionary tale Nico in an oft-bootlegged (and now commercially available) 1972 show in France, where the three former bandmates performed mellow, somewhat acoustic takes of various songs. Less successful -and that’s being charitable – was the Velvet’s ill-fated and legacy-humping reunion tour (and substandard live album, natch) in the early 1990s. 
In between that Bataclan one-off novelty and the reunion clusterfuck, Reed and Cale created Songs for Drella. Their most successful and creative collaboration, the album is an emotional and sincere (if occasionally fictionalized and romanticized) concept album about the life and death of pop artist and now crudely commercialized icon Andy Warhol. A sparsely arranged album based around Reed’s guitars and Cale’s keyboards and occasional strings, its songs trace a rough chronology from Warhol’s childhood in Pittsburgh to his eventual death in 1987. It’s a moving and striking homage to the artist as a person instead of his more widely known, primarily distant public persona, and still stands as one of the most inventive concept albums to date. 
Giving those armchair psychologists who view Reed as a diabolical control freak plenty of ammunition, Reed handles the bulk of the vocals here, sometimes to mixed results. Occasionally the vocals are over-enunciated and far too over the top (especially on “Starlight”), an unfortunate and frankly annoying tendency that has plagued Reed throughout his post-VU career. Yet these cases are rare and most of Reed’s vocals are compelling. Opening track “Small Town” begins with Cale’s bouncy keyboards as it describes the young Warhol – “Bad skin/ Bad eyes/ Gay and fatty” – and his desire to get the hell out of his Pittsburgh hometown. Up tempo and dryly humorous, it establishes the theme of Warhol as artistic visionary that later surfaces throughout the album. “Open House” offers brief biographical sketches as it portrays Warhol looking back at his Czechoslovakian heritage, against Cale’s piano melody that simply repeats the same two notes. “Work” and “Images” take a crack at Warhol’s artistic philosophy (“images are worth repeating“) and approximate the Velvet’s style, especially in the electric viola that tears through the latter song. 
The tracks sung by Cale usually take a decidedly different approach. With the exception of the manic “Trouble With Classicists” and the dully electric “Forever Changed,” Cale’s songs are mostly hushed and languid, relying on atmospherics, strings, and keyboards to convey Warhol’s story. “Style It Takes” and “Faces and Names” are both airy and floating, with somewhat orchestral strings, subdued percussion, and a fluid guitar line. Cale’s depiction of Warhol is similarly heartfelt and sympathetic; the lyrics read like a eulogy to the artist. These songs also straddle the line between biographical reporting and mythmaking; anything that could be perceived as a character flaw in Warhol is instead depicted as the quirks or eccentricities of a misunderstood genius. 
The songs that focus on mortality and aging, often in the guise of the two musicians offering a farewell to Warhol with a mixture of regret and pathos, still remain the album’s true centerpieces. It’s on these songs where both Reed and Cale explore themes that extend far beyond the sphere of a Warhol retrospective. “A Dream” is perhaps the album’s standout track; a spoken word piece with Cale accompanied by minimal piano and brushes of percussion, it depicts Warhol pouring over his past in a dream, both his Factory crowd and artistic inspiration long gone. As Factory shadows from Warhol’s earlier years flit in and out, Cale imagines the artist as brooding and pensive, as he recalls everything from not being invited to Reed’s wedding to being shot by Valerie Solanis in 1968 (“There’s blood leaking through my shirt/ From those scars from being shot“). Similarly, Reed provides his own tribute in closing song “Hello It’s Me.” Backed by Cale’s viola, it’s one of Reed’s more confessional and emotional songs, thankfully free of the macho armor and posturing that have sunk too many of his post- VU albums. It’s a goodbye disguised as an apology, where Reed does a shitload of pride swallowing, blankly admitting that he has “some resentments that can never be unmade.” 
Though Songs for Drella doesn’t match the musicians’ output from either The Velvet Underground and Nico or White Light White Heat, it’s still one of music’s more unassuming and unimposing concept albums. It focuses not on the aloof and cool public persona usually associated with Warhol, but instead on a poignant and personal depiction of Warhol as someone with insecurities and doubts about his life and what it’s meant. Though it’s likely that Lou Reed and John Cale will never collaborate together again – the punches that the two men still occasionally throw at each other don’t count – Songs for Drella is a nice closing chapter to that relationship.
Eric Dennis / Spectrum Culture

Black Renaissance ‎– Body, Mind And Spirit (1976)

Style: Free Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Luv N' Haight

1.   Black Renaissance
2.   Magic Ritual

Bass – Buster Williams
Drums – Billy Hart (tracks: 1), Howard King (tracks: 2)
Percussion – Earl Bennett, Billy Hart, Howard King, James Mtume
Piano – Harry Whitaker
Tenor Saxophone – David Schnitter
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Azar Lawrence
Trumpet – Woody Shaw
Vocals – Assata Doby, Edna Holt, Lani Groves, Sandy Nakamura
Voice [Speaking] – Andaye DeLaCruz, Bobby Andrews, Dwight Carson, Fikisha Cumbo, Sekou Sundiata

Having already achieved varying degrees of commercial and critical success with Roy Ayers' Ubiquity project and Robert Flack, Harry Whitaker went into the studio to record Black Renaissance: Body, Mind & Spirit, a tone poem reflecting on the state of African American music in the 1970s. Debunking the myth of the record's rarity aside (scarcely available for decades until its 2002 reissue by Ubiquity), this album is a map of the African American musical canvas -- a symphony of melding influences as far reaching as Sun Ra's call and responses to the future, John Coltrane's tonal meditations to the holy spirit, and the electronic wizardry of Herbie Hancock's "Raindance" all nestled together in unison. The strength of this album lies in all these variables and Whitaker's own unique composition sensibilities bringing it all together in a way that's accessible to people unfamiliar with any of the aforementioned artists. Black Renaissance: Body, Mind & Spirit is a haunting echo of progression in a time where innovation was the norm, not the exception.
Rob Theakston / ALLMusic