As pop’s favourite boffin hits town with his festival frolics, we salute half a dozen indispensable Eno tunes.
A solo hiatus over the last few years has meant Brian Eno is probably now best known as a go-to record producer who used to be in Roxy Music, made music for airports and recorded the six-second start-up jingle for Windows 95 – inevitably the most widely known work of his career. But before all that our Brian was a quirky, innovative and genuinely unique solo performer. The albums featured here are all essential, so selecting six tracks from among them was tricky. The cards told us to choose these ones.
‘Some Of Them Are Old’ – Here Come The Warm Jets (1974)
As a man whose voice is perhaps not the most obvious of his many talents, it’s nice to be able to present one of the warmest songs Eno’s made to date, featuring his vocal at the forefront of the mix, multi-layered and chorused to delicious effect. The album from whence it came is apparently titled in reference to a small picture on the front sleeve of a lady having a crafty piss in a stream.
‘The True Wheel’ – Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (1974)
Eno abandoned much of Roxy Music’s glam stomping influence for his solo work, choosing instead to forage in the electronic undergrowth. But The True Wheel from his second album makes clear reference to Roxy’s stabbing glitter riffs and suggests he was still a man who could rock out should he deem it an appropriate musical course of action. The refrain ‘looking for a certain ratio’ obviously inspired the Manc indie evergreens in their nomenclature.
‘I’ll Come Running’ – Another Green World (1975)
The first time we heard this album we just knew we were going to love it, and Brian, forever. Famed as he is for inventing noodly ambient soundscapes, it’s nonetheless Eno’s more traditional song structures that enchanted us, and the likes of Bowie, Byrne and Bono before us. This touching gem, borne of Oblique Strategies experimentalism in 1975, is goofy, beautiful and features one of the best guitar solo sounds we’ve ever heard. In fact fellow chrome dome Moby nicked it for ‘We Are All Made Of Stars’.
‘Another Green World’ – Another Green World (1975)
You already know this, unless you’re an X Factor-glued dimwit, for it’s been the theme tune for BBC’s Arena programme since 1975. An instrumental, yet not quite the minimal nothing-really-going-on-ness of his ambient pieces, this has inevitably been many people’s entry point to the Eno oeuvre. Fans of Bowie’s feted Berlin trilogy of 77-79 on which he collaborated with Eno will find plenty to love here.
‘No One Receiving’ – Before And After Science (1977)
It may surprise some to learn that during his mid-70s purple period for indispensible solo works, one of Eno’s favoured percussionists was Phil Collins. Unlike the ‘Easy Lover’ tom-thumping of later years, here Phil provides a jaunty and bouncy backing to a rhythm section whose style would later inform much of Eno’s Talking Heads production. On LP format it was divided by sides and moods; pop (as far as Eno did pop) on the first and a lush electro serenity on the flip.
‘This’ – Another Day On Earth (2005)
After decades of ambient-only releases, during which Eno’s only real forays into traditional song were polishing those of others, he finally got back in the vocal booth in 2005 for his swansong in the medium so far. From the get go it’s unmistakably Eno, and this album opener takes us straight back to his glory years – retaining his rhythmic blueprint with some sonic tinkering for a new millennia. Don’t buy this album until you’ve bought the others listed here, but buy it all the same.
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