Here Come The Warm Jets
While he’s nowadays accepted as a respectable elder statesman of rock, Eno’s image in the glam era is edgy; what are now endearing eccentricities seemed far more subversive in Eno’s glam rock, eye liner days. Here Come The Warm Jets‘ appeal comes from its warped sensibility; most of the melodies and structures are fairly conventional and accessible, reflecting a fondness for mainstream pop like The Beach Boys and Beatles, but Eno’s arrangements and lyrics are far more unusual and idiosyncratic. The infusion of straightforward pop with a more avant-garde sensibility is a fascinating combination, and very much a continuation of the experimental spirit of early Roxy Music. Eno plays basic guitar and keyboard parts, and his “snake” guitar style is distinctive, but his biggest instrumental contribution comes through the way that his technological devices treat the sounds of his collaborators, creating unique and identifiably Eno tones. Guest musicians include most of Roxy Music, along with King Crimson members Robert Fripp and John Wetton.
Debut Here Come The Warm Jets is also a surprisingly eclectic record, jumping from glammed up rocker ‘Baby’s On Fire’ to the proto-ambient ‘Some Faraway Beach’ and The Beach Boy’s tribute ‘Some Of Them Are Old’. Compared to later records it does tend more towards chaos, with Fripp and Phil Manzanera’s guitars treated into imposing chunks of noise (‘Blank Frank’) and spinning into unconventional solos (‘Baby’s On Fire’). The album opens with ‘Needle In The Camel’s Eye’, its melody referencing the opening track from The Velvet Underground’s debut, another key influence on Eno’s music along with avant-gardists like La Monte Young and Steve Reich. Eno pulls off a nasty Ferry impersonation on ‘Negro Blowtorch’, and alternately monologues and wails through the piano groove of ‘Dead Finks Don’t Talk’. Here Come The Warm Jets is packed with ideas and Eno’s trying something different with every track. Brian Eno’s not primarily known as a solo recording artist, yet his run of vocal albums through the mid seventies are some of the most fascinating committed to vinyl.