John Cale and Roger McGuinn
Live and West Coast Legends Vol. 4
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 3, 2010
John Cale & BandLive (Rockpalast/MIG)
Roger McGuinn's ThunderbyrdWest Coast Legends Vol. 4 (Rockpalast/MIG)
John Cale obviously didn't choose this erratic 1984 performance from German TV show Rockpalast. He's sloppy, ragged, famously coked up, and the show was delayed until 3am, but it's real in a way no one could fake – near brilliant, even, when he performs an eviscerating "Waiting for the Man" and bone-cold "Mercenaries (Ready for War)." Included is a bizarre interview in which the drummer is mistaken for the Welshman. By contrast, a Rockpalast set from the previous year on a second DVD is calm, collected, and acoustically lovely, but its placement is disingenuous; it suggests redemption when actually the '84 show is the nadir in Cale's own mythos, the last year of personal excess before he cleaned up and turned his career toward its brilliant electronic future. Funny that in 1977, Roger McGuinn & Thunderbyrd were likewise delayed on the concert program. That show, wrote guitarist Rick Vito by e-mail, was "the first simulcast in Europe and tens of millions saw it, so it was a big deal. Technicalities had us performing around 3-4am. Sam Clayton of Little Feat joined us unexpectedly onstage (great). Thought we sounded horrible since there were no good monitors and we could not hear each other." Vito's expert guitar and vocals back McGuinn, flying high from Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, and a proliferation of Byrds material dominates, as expected with "Lover of the Bayou" and "Chestnut Mare." No extras, but the blast-from-the-past closing trifecta of "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "Eight Miles High" levitates to the nth degree.