Record Collector MAY 2004 - by Daryl Easlea


Brian Eno: Here Come The Warm Jets / Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) / Another Green World / Before And After Science

The first four Brian Eno albums are a shimmering, discrete capsule of alt pop joy. Back when The Raptures were in their diapers, Eno took the rock format and exploded it with skewed time structures, nagging repetition and a generous nod to the strange. They represent his entree to the pop intelligentsia: although Roxy Music had introduced him to the world at large, these four vocal albums are what really plumped up his pillows.

Here Come The Warm Jets showed that art rock, gospel and doo-wop could all co-exist in joyous harmony. Although a composite of many different styles, no one at that point had quite made records like On Some Faraway Beach: its scat fadeout to solo piano and then the smashing burst of Blank Frank is one of pop's most glittering prizes.

Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) was possibly his only album from the period without significant forward thrust. The beautific title track complete with Phil Manzanera's delicate guitar riff and The True Wheel are the set's highlights, but they are undermined somewhat by Back In Judy's Jungle, all Bavarian bierkeller stomp and choral affectation.

1975's Another Green World was an enormous progression. With Phil Collins, Robert Fripp, John Cale and Percy Jones in tow, Eno began creating precise templates to be extremely messy within. Sky Saw, St. Elmo's Fire and his single greatest song ever, I'll Come Running (To Tie Your Show), are all here, alongside achingly beautiful moments like the title track, for so long used as the theme to the BBC's Arena.

But for this listener, it will always be 1977's Before And After Science that will forever have the greatest resonance. His final solo pop album for fifteen years, it saw him combine blistering beats on the first side and airy ambience on the second. Queer and queasy funk (No One Receiving), sea shanties (Backwater) and the record which not only paid tribute to Talking Heads but also defined their future sound (King's Lead Hat) are the upbeat highlights while Julie With, By This River and Here He Comes are a divine, delicate triumvirate on the second.

There are those that argue Brian Eno never bettered these four releases and, in a way, they are right. They still define his career; the roots of Bowie's future direction is here, as is most good '80s alternative pop (and there was some). Deliciously sinister, sensuously warped, and sounding and looking so great, this is pop as it's meant to be corrupted.