Brian Eno Album Reviews

Brian Eno started his musical career as a member of Roxy Music, where he used his synthesiser to treat Phil Manzanera’s guitar and Andy Mackay’s saxophone and oboe. After leaving Roxy Music he built up an impressive catologue as a producer, with significant albums for David Bowie, Talking Heads, Devo, and U2, where he used his pack of Oblique Strategies cards to resolve any creative impasses.

In between his other endeavors, he found time for a solo career, most notably in the mid-1970s when he also created a series of skewed pop albums, which dabbled with glam rock, ambient textures, and Germanic electronic sounds. He collaborated with other English art-rockers like Robert Fripp, Phil Manzanera, and Phil Collins. His reedy voice is effective and while he’s often associated with the label ambient, his pop albums are energetic and succinct; they’re certainly weird, but not in dissimilar to what more commercially successful artists like Bowie were doing at the time.

Eno’s debut Here Come The Warm Jets is in the same glam rock idiom that Roxy Music were exploring, while Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy is a less accessible concept album about China. The ambient textures are assimilated into 1975’s Another Green World, while 1977’s Before and After Science has a more German feel. Post 1977, his solo output has focused on ambient albums – of these I’m only familiar with 1975’s Discreet Music, which I’m not very enthused about, although some of his other ambient albums are reportedly stronger. I do enjoy his collaborations with Talking Heads’ David Byrne.

Eno’s simply too weird for mainstream success as a solo artist, although of course his ideas have hit the mainstream through his production work. But his 1970s’ vocal albums are full of interesting ideas, and Another Green World and Before and After Science are two of my favourite albums ever.

Ten Favourite Brian Eno Songs

St Elmo’s Fire
No One Receiving
Baby’s On Fire
Everything Merges With The Night
By This River
Third Uncle
Sky Saw
Spider and I
The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch