One of John Cale
's very finest solo efforts, Paris 1919
is also among his most accessible records, one which grows in depth and resonance with each successive listen. A consciously literary work -- the songs even bear titles like "Child's Christmas in Wales," "Macbeth," and "Graham Greene" -- Paris 1919
is close in spirit to a collection of short stories; the songs are richly poetic, enigmatic period pieces strongly evocative of their time and place. Chris Thomas
' production is appropriately lush and sweeping, with many tracks set to orchestral accompaniment; indeed, there's little here to suggest either Cale
's noisy, abrasive past or the chaos about to resurface in his subsequent work -- for better or worse, his music never achieved a similar beauty again.