The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brian Eno

11-24-08 Brian Eno

I believe Mr. Eno was one of the people responsible for helping me determine how I viewed music fandom in the 1970’s. Coming from a background of psychedelic music and King Crimson, I was onto Roxy Music pretty quickly. I had read about this new group being touted by the management of King Crimson, with a debut album produced by Pete Sinfield, the lyricist of King Crimson. With the first two Roxy’s under my belt, I quickly snapped up the debut RM solo LP, “Here Come The Warm Jets” by Brian Eno. Who were the “Warm Jets”, an imaginary rock band, a take-off on the “Spiders From Mars”?

Well, after the pop-prog rock of the first two RM albums, “Here Come The Warm Jets” seemed ‘light’ to me, a snob at 16 already! Did I need fluffy pop music if my favorite record of the moment was “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic” by the mighty King Crimson?

In my limited access to the retail music world, I began to see what I found to be ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to Eno’s debut solo album, I could over-hear people saying that it was the greatest record ever made etc. I saw Eno T-shirts. How could Iight and fluffy pop music create such extreme fandom? Even before Eno’s 2nd album came along (which wasn’t long), I was already ‘finished’ with it, considering it to be an item of derision – my band even made fun of “Baby’s On Fire”, creating “Eno’s On Fire” (as in “Eno’s on fire, better throw up in the water…” etc.) – it seemed to me that the artist (and fans) were taking things way too seriously.

So, at the time Eno solo albums #2 & #3 were released – I ignored them. After “Warm Jets”, the only other one I heard when it was new was “Before and After Science” (album #4) – I got some new open ears, once I started working in record stores. It remains my favorite solo Eno album (I was 19 when it was released).

Truth be told, I got both Fripp & Eno albums when they were released, but…by the time both “(no pussyfooting)” and “Evening Star” walked down the pike – I was even kind of ‘done’ with Robert Fripp.

But it’s 2008, I’m 50 years old – and I should probably listen to all 4 x Eno ‘rock & roll’ albums again, now that I have re-mastered CD’s of them. I’ve spent the better part of 3 decades hearing about how wonderful they all are. I confess that I have enjoyed what I have heard from them, thus far. “Warm Jets” has a touch of ‘glam rock insincerity’ feeling to it! Of course, I am much more “OK” with British 70’s glam rock now than I was at that time. “Warm Jets” is neither ‘prog rock’ nor (really) ‘glam rock’. At times, it sounds like Eno is imitating Bryan Ferry when he’s singing!

Is it important to enjoy Robert Fripp when listening to “Warm Jets”? Lots of the guitar sure sounds like Phil Manzanera! Oh, it is. I never had a problem with his solo albums. But I also never heard anybody ‘rave’ about them. And I’ve only recently come around to the first 5 or so Bryan Ferry solo albums! Of course I have both Andy Mackay solo albums. Roxy Music solo album time now!

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Anonymous Jim Donato said...

HTCWJ has been feted for 35 years because it is an insanely creative album that follows no set formula. It has absolutely SPIKY shifts in tone which run the full gamut of the sound spectrum. It is a fun, furious, wild ride. Just when you thought the album was ready to end, there was a new vista revealed to push out just a little further.

When I think of creative music albums that literally create new worlds of sound, only two come to mind. This and Yello's "Solid Pleasure." Is it pop? Yes! It is light - wha...? How can any album with Fripp's most fang-baring (face-melting, even) solo ever be called "fluffy pop?"

And Ron, Eno's vocal on "Dead Finks" is what the Brits call "taking the piss."

As for people not raving about Manzanera's albums in comparison... he's a player, not a conceptualist like Eno. I am nuts about HCTWJ because a guy who could barely play an instrument made a weirdly exciting album that took what constituted "pop music" to strange and wondrous new levels. Phil plays great, but he don't get the mental pulse racing. That said, each of Eno's subsequent albums are but an echo of this one to me.

9:10 AM  

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