John Cale is nothing if not uneven—if you prefer, the more diplomatic way to put it might be "eclectic" or "restless." Certainly it was the most valuable quality that he brought to the Velvet Underground, and the element most sorely missed (by all but Lou Reed) after he was gone. Yet for all that it's when he sets himself to the mission of dirtyass rock 'n' roll that I tend to sit up and most appreciate him. For a fix of that there's Slow Dazzle, there's Sabotage/Live, but most of all there's this. Even when it grows most raw and raggedy, as on the harrowing "Gun," he does it with a riveting level of authority that I'm not sure he ever managed to achieve anywhere else, and that includes the Velvets. The title pretty much strikes the tone in terms of themes, but to me the main draw here is the way it's recorded, with Cale's vocals thundering forth as if it were Yahweh Himself getting biblical from the mountaintops, the pounding piano chords, the texture of Phil Manzanera's scratching guitar twang and abrasive chording, Eno doing his thing invisibly extracting indelible intonations via ... whatever he's doing (the credit is for "synthesizers, Eno," likely the same thing elsewhere characterized as "Enossifications"), and the way so many of the songs reduce themselves to rubble as if of their own destructive power. Lots of stars on hand too: Manzanera, Eno, Fred Smith, Richard Thompson, Judy Nylon. And it's hardly all exploding shards of sound either, even if it tends to live on that way in memory. "Buffalo Ballet," "Emily," and "You Know More Than I Know" are positively elegiac, while "The Man Who Couldn't Afford to Orgy" manages to carpetbag some sneaky pornography into the proceedings, all of which only means that the whole thing is actually quite nicely paced.