INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Mojo APRIL 2000 - by Andrew Male
BEFORE AND AFTER BRIAN
Recorded: Majestic Studios, London, September 1973
Released: January 1974
Chart Peak: 26
Personnel: Brian Eno (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals), Robert Fripp, Phil Manzanera, Chris Spedding and Paul Rudolph (guitars), Andy Mackay (sax, keyboards), Nick Judd (keyboards), Bill MacCormick and Busta Cherry Jones (bass), Simon King (percussion)
Tracks: Needles In The Camel's Eye / The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch / Baby's On Fire / Cindy Tells Me / Driving Me Backwards / On Some Faraway Beach / Blank Frank / Dead Finks Don't Talk / Some Of Them Are Old / Here Come The Warm Jets
After leaving Roxy Music in June 1973, Brian Eno entered into a period of feverish activity. In just under three months he collaborated with Robert Fripp on the No Pussyfooting album and recorded his solo debut, Here Come The Warm Jets. The album's angular, quirky Englishness undoubtedly sowed the seeds of punk but resulted in a collapsed lung for Eno. After recuperating, he unwisely went to New York to hang out with John Cale and Nico.The first time I heard it was about four years ago. Loz [Hardy, friend, lodger and former frontman with early '90s band Kingmaker] brought it with him when he moved in. I'd always thought of Eno as this pretentious art wanker and I think there's a definite art-wank element to Warm Jets, but there's also a directness about it which surprised me. Loz'd play it most mornings. It kept me going when I felt thoroughly sickened with music. We'd just got back from touring in 1996 and hadn't even started recording. I wasn't getting on with anyone and I didn't want to be in a band any more. I felt I'd done everything and was pretty miserable.
• • •
Eno's got that thing which I recognize in Dylan or Shaun Ryder: I can't sing but I'm going to do it anyway. He'd left Roxy Music because he'd wanted to make a visceral Velvet Underground-style record and that makes total sense to me. Jets gets you on a real gut level. The other thing that drew me to him was the way he's really unashamedly posh English and doesn't try and cover it up. That appeals to me.
I listened to it on vinyl first, and it's a definite two-sided record. I don't really know all the names of the tracks but I love the first side, stuff like Needles In The Camel's Eye, Baby's On Fire, Cindy Tells Me. There's something about Cindy Tells Me which is really perfect pop. It's got those high harmony vocals that Wire do a lot and it's got an awkwardness to it, an accidental quality.
So, anyway, it started off being a morning record and then it became an evening record. It goes well with drugs (laughs). It feels intelligent. You can sit around doing nothing but take drugs and listen to this and convince yourself you're doing some good, that you're learning. You've seen the woman pissing, haven't you? (Points to risqué playing card on the cover depicting a woman pissing into a river.) that's obviously why it's called Here Come The Warm Jets but I assume it's a drug reference as well. You know, someone shooting up.
It's a really comforting record. About 1997, when there was a lot of insanity going on around me, it just sounded totally familiar. I love the whole laziness vibe, characters going through life doing as little as possible: Baby's so lazy she's virtually unable. I misheard the first line of On Some Faraway Beach, thinking it was: Give us a job and I'll cry like a baby.
The Eno aesthetic satisfied everything I needed in music at the time punk but really 'head' at the same time. Eno's thought, Chuck everything out the window and start again, and there's something really brave about that. Driving Me Backwards you just wouldn't put it on a record these days. Head Music, became my term for this album. Brett [Anderson from Suede] used it for the title of the last Suede album. I'd always thought of 'head music' as drug music someone who did too many trips but this is someone who's using their head to make head music. It's not soul music. I can relate to it. Eno's said that being in a studio is like a puzzle and it's something you just have to get through and I think that's stayed with me a bit too much that's very much what Elastica has felt like: I'm not musical, I'm not naturally a singer, a songwriter or a guitar player but I'll use my head and get out of this.
I really lost my confidence for a long while because Damon [Albarn] and Donna [Matthews, former member of Elastica] were telling me they were naturally musical and I wasn't. They had soul and I didn't. Eno got me through because his whole thing is thinking, Fuck it, I haven't got soul, I'm not musical but I can do it anyway because I need to do it.
Did I nick anything from this album? No! And if I did I'm not going to tell you. The lesson I've learned is that even if you have nicked stuff, don't tell anyone.