The intentionally disturbing songs on John Cale’s Fear marked a turning point in the ex-Velvet Underground member’s long and fruitful career. This 1974 album re-introduced him as a singer/songwriter fascinated with mayhem and madness, capable of unleashing blood-curdling screams and instrumental freak-outs. Cale infuses tunes like “Fear is a Man’s Best Friend” and the extended jam “Gun” with a film noir-like sense of violence, drawing upon such luminaries as Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno for support. The lulling synthesizer waves in “Emily” mask the sinister undercurrents swirling below its gentle surface. Fear often displays considerable rock muscle, with the convulsive “Momamma Scuba” boasting no less than three slide guitarists (including Manzanera and Richard Thompson). No matter how crazed the proceedings get, Cale remains the consummate artiste, able to keep the tracks from descending into sloppiness. Fear remains a highpoint for its fresh, visceral attack and finely twisted sense of humor.