Brian Eno Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

Brian Eno: Five Best Songs

Brian Eno was born to a long line of postmen, but went to art school and embarked on a musical career, despite describing himself as a non-musician. Over a long and illustrious career, he’s transformed from a musical outsider to enjoying mainstream success with his innovative production techniques.

He’s best known as a producer, with work for U2, Talking Heads, and Devo, as well as his ambient albums, his membership in early Roxy Music, and as the composer of the Windows 95 startup sound. But my favourite Eno work is the series of four albums of twisted, playful pop he made in the mid 1970s. Eno enlisted a slew of great collaborators, and his work is enhanced by guest stars like Phil Collins, Robert Fripp, and Robert Wyatt.

Here are five of my favourite Eno songs, all drawn from his 1970s vocal albums:

By This River

from Before and After Science (1977)
Eno’s fourth pop album has a distinctly Germanic feel in places, and it’s accentuated in this track, a collaboration with Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius from Cluster. It’s simple, with just a repeating keyboard motif and a flute patch, but it’s beautiful, with Eno applying the lessons from his ambient work to pop music.

Everything Merges With The Night

from Another Green World (1975)
Eno stepped away from glam music by 1975, and Another Green World is gentler and more textural than his earlier work. Eno’s guitars are accompanied by Brian Turrington, on another simple, beautiful song.

Baby’s On Fire

from Here Come The Warm Jets (1974)
Brian Eno’s solo debut was recorded after leaving Roxy Music, and it’s in the glam rock vein of his former band. King Crimson’s Robert Fripp drops in for a terrific solo, while Eno’s lyrics are humorously menacing.

No One Receiving

from Before and After Science (1977)
The rhythmic pulse of ‘No One Receiving’ is similar to the contemporary David Bowie records like Low and “Heroes” that Eno worked on, futuristic art-pop. Phil Collins lays down an enticing groove, and the track is effectively a blueprint for the Talking Heads’ early 1980s work.

St. Elmo’s Fire

from Another Green World (1975)
‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ is built around a tentative sounding groove, which fits its story of exploration. “We had walked and we had scrambled / Through the moors and through the briars.” But the focal point is Fripp’s superlative guitar solo – Eno asked him to play as if simulating an electrical charge between two poles on a Wimshurst high voltage generator.

Do you have a favourite Eno song? Did I neglect Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)? For more Eno content, check out Vinyl Connection’s Eno week.

Read More:
Brian Eno album reviews
Roxy Music album reviews


  1. I love the piano in By This River, great pick. An Ending (Ascent) and Always Returning, both instrumentals, I still find moving despite overuse in movies.

  2. I did not realise that Kings Lead hat was an anagram until recently.
    Regarding Taking Tiger Mountain … , The True Wheel and Fat Lady of Limbourg are my most played from that album. – Another Chris

    • Thanks Chris! I like that fact about ‘King’s Lead Hat’, but couldn’t figure out how to work it in neatly. I think I like ‘Third Uncle’ best from Taking Tiger Mountain.

  3. I’ve been following the Eno Installations posts over at Vinyl Connection and thinking I should really stop putting off delving into the Eno stuff. Bruce actually suggested Before and After Science and Another Green World, so it’s pretty good that a few of these tracks are from those albums, cause I get to ‘sample them’. I realise that I’ve given Another Green World a cursory listen… so I’ll get back to that one.

    • Yeah those are my two favourites too. I have Discreet Music, which is his first instrumental/ambient album, and wasn’t a big fan so never explored further, but I’m sure he has better ones.

  4. Although I have reached a stage of Eno enjoyment (following the initial befuddlement with trying to see what the fuss was about) – I couldn’t tell you any of the track names.
    I did quite like the 1001 listed albums though, funny that I didn’t retain any of the individual names.
    I suppose he’s an artist that works quite well in the album format!

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