John Cale - Vintage Violence
During his tenure as one of the key songwriters and co-founders of The Velvet Underground, John Cale brought a sense of exploratory experimentation that was unheard of from most other acts of the time. Paired with Lou Reed, Cale brought elements of drone, noise rock, art rock, and neo-classical to the influential proto-punk band. Cale was ultimately fired from the band in 1968 due to escalating tensions between himself and Reed, taking the more experimental aspects and sounds with him. After his exit, Cale worked largely as a producer, session musician, and arranger on albums by The Stooges, Nico, and The Modern Lovers, among many others, but also maintained a highly acclaimed solo career. This career would begin with 1970's Vintage Violence, which was slightly more accessible than his noisier works. Vintage Violence's more grounded roots-rock sound featured lush production, and was heavily inspired by the works of Brian Wilson, Leonard Cohen, and the Byrds. While Cale would become best known for his later avant-garde albums, and forays back into sound experimentation throughout the 1970s, Vintage Violence was a surprisingly down-to-earth and smooth release from the Welsh singer-songwriter. And though Cale himself didn't think highly of the record (He considered the songs overly simplistic) it was embraced by critics, (With Ed Ward of the Rolling Stone declaring the album to be one of the most important albums of the past few years upon its release.) and set the stage for greater things in the coming years.