BRIAN ENO REVIEWS:
No Pussyfooting (1973)
Album Score: 10
Released by: Fripp & Eno
This is Brian Eno's legendary first published work done outside of the Roxy Music (which he left after only the band's second album, For Your Pleasure). He teamed with King Crimson's guitarist Robert Fripp (an awesome guitarist) to make this oft-hailed "revolutionary" album.
Hearing this album isn't essential whatsoever, unless you're someone who has appreciation for history more than anything else and, moreover, a little bit strange. Rock aficionados usually don't underestimate the historical importance of Brian Eno (who later probably helped to directly influenced the most interesting prog bands to emerge in the mid-'70s to the New Wave movement and onward), and No Pussyfooting is one of the premiere Eno inspirations!
Specifically, the Eno-synthscapes that are so revered in rock music ... this is the first time we ever get to hear them! (Unless you count some specific moments in the Roxy Music's first two albums ... but none of those are like this.) And, these synthscapes probably have launched what would soon become the New Age genre ... undoubtedly, any artist who makes "mood music" has a lot to thank Eno for! ... No Pussyfooting sounds like a mood music album ... except there's not a whole lot of mood on here. Mostly, this is cold noodling from the duo ... very very cold ... the music is emotionally unaffecting. But it's strangely interesting (if unnerving).
I don't very much like listening to No Pussyfooting if I'm paying direct attention to it ... I'd probably go crazy! Instead, this is much better if you're listening to it while doing something else ... Like reading a book or clipping your toenails... That's the only way I could take it ...
Anyway, just keep in mind that this isn't *enjoyable*. This is only for the seasoned music geek who hasn't clipped his (or her?!) toenails yet.
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Here Come the Warm Jets (1973)
Album Score: 13
Brian Eno is quite a figure in rock music, and here is his first pop album after splitting from Roxy Music and becoming his own independent nation.
I say, the best thing about great bands breaking up and the former members making solo albums is that there's more music to listen to. The Beatles broke up once, and all four members were coming up with enjoyable solo albums for me to hear. They're not as good as the original Beatles albums, but I still like 'em.
Now, Brian Eno on the other hand, writes music just as well as Roxy Music did. Take that statement with a grain of salt if you wish, but this album is just as enjoyable to me as For Your Pleasure, which I haven't been able to stop listening to for five years (when I bought it). Every single track is pumped with Eno's instrumental and production ideas, and all of these ideas are fantastic!! They're usually ear-catching, well-mixed and seem to suit the track. Even if the odd ideas don't suit the track well, they're weird enough to be interesting anyway. Surely, Brian Eno had 'genius' in that department.
Thankfully to everyone who likes a good tune, Brian Eno stays close enough to pop conventions to deliver a few catchy melodies. "Cindy Tells Me" is easily the best example of that with a melody that even gets caught in my head occasionally. "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" is another example of a fun, catchy melody, and it even strongly recalls Roxy Music. Eno's even an expert at chord progressions ... a few of these are real gems. Chord progressions are hidden in music sometimes, but they make all the difference.
So, you may consider this one of the finer moments of rock music ... It's enjoyable and absolutely solid. There's no filler material in this album whatsoever. In fact, I don't think the word 'filler' is in Eno's discography. He's an ARTIST!!!!!!!
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Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (1974)
Album Score: 13
Many critics consider this a bit of a step back for Eno after releasing his solo debut Here Come the Warm Jets. Yet, some critics call this his masterpiece! I'm still not sure where I stand on this issue (which is, in the end, much more important than any topic in American politics) because I think both albums are great! On one hand, Here Comes the Warm Jets was a bit more experimental ... but Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) has better pop melodies. Hm. I would suggest listening to them both and being the judge for yourself. Also, hear all of his other solo albums! ... That is the best thing I can suggest for your life right now. (I'm probably a better social therapist than Dr. Phil. Trust me; if you purchase Brian Eno albums, all your troubles will seem stupid, which they probably are. Let's be honest.)
It's hard to deny that songs like "Back in Judy's Jungle," "Third Uncle" and "The True Wheel" aren't pure greatness. I have an extreme fondness for all three of these that I can't bear to think about which one I like better. "Back in Judy's Jungle" is a weird, pseudo-military song fully equipped with a catchy melody. "Third Uncle" is easily the most furious track of the album, and it might even prompt you to air guitar. "The True Wheel" is an utterly poppy song (on crack, as expected) and the hooks are among the album's strongest.
I must also mention "Taking Tiger Mountain," which is an important song. It's not only a proto-New Age song (possibly the first of its kind), but it points to the more ambient work he would start doing in his next album Another Green World. That's one song you can kick back to and enjoy.
A few weaker tracks are present in the album, but looking at the high-end scores I gave them I obviously still liked them quite a bit. "Mother Whale Eyeless" actually struck me as a bit awkward in a bad way --- with some jerky transitions between completely unrelated sections. Of course, nobody would be surprised to see that from him, but --- it wasn't that great here. "Put a Straw Under Baby" has great instrumentation and nice lyrics, but the experience comes off as slightly boring to me. Um, those are my only two complaints. And those technically aren't even complaints. Those two songs are brilliant!
Whether or not this album is the best or worst of Eno's discography, it's clear that this one's definitely on the high end --- of all music in the history of music.
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Another Green World (1975)
Album Score: 12
The Brian Eno hit machine strikes again! ... OK no hits, but he was too good for hits. This is where he finally starts experimenting with the ambient music. He tested those waters a bit in Taking Tiger Mountain, but he's now he's swimming over to the deep end. He delivers wholly experimental but enjoyable instrumental tracks. Notably, there's "In the Dark Trees," which brings us directly to a dark forest! The closing track "Spirits Drifting" also has a perfect song title!!
The album opener "Sky Saw" could possess the craziest instrumentation of them all --- you can tell (if it wasn't already obvious) that Eno was concocting some wild brews in the studio. Careful that you don't drink too quickly! "St. Elmo's Fire" is a similarly wild and weird track and nothing like you've probably heard before. That one's glorious, but not quite as glorious sounding as "The Big Ship," which'll just hit you over the head with a wooden plank.
"Becalmed" is a highlight among all these highlights. It's like getting transported to a different planet, and the laws of music operate differently. That one sounds like a more unique version of a Vangelis song... and Eno only needs four minutes to tell us the tale as opposed to Vangelis who normally takes much, much longer.
Eno's not quite read to go completely ambient, and he takes the opportunity to deliver a few poppier songs. "I'll Come Running" is quite hooky and fun!!! Though still interesting, there are a few tracks here that don't quite make it for me. The title track, notably, is just a fade-in and a fade-out of a relatively simple groove. This track didn't last long enough to really mean anything, and you wonder what the point of it was. There's a similar problem with "Sombre Reptiles." While the atmosphere is decidedly unique, there's not much to his instrumentation --- nothing particularly unique or exciting about it.
Nonetheless, these supposed low-lights are actually less significant highlights. This is the nature of Brian Eno in the '70s. Yes, I'm engaging in fan worship, but there's no reason to deny him of anything....... so I won't!!!!
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