I Know Eno…

12 April

Time flies and I know not where too! And Time and tide as we know, waits for no man, not even one of letters! And it’s of the essence, but as the Gang of Four (the musical band not the political one) once said ‘I find This Essence Is Rare’, Track 1 side 2 (vinyl) of the brilliant album Entertainment Great band by the way, due a revival (oh, hang on I think they have reformed for some shows). Anyway I blame poetry, more precisely #NaPoWriMo The desire and need to rise to challenge of thirty poems in thirty days during April has sapped both my time and my creative juices, so that once achieved, there has been no ink left in my pen, the quill has been blunted, the well run dry. But not tonight Josephine, not tonight.

So, today’s blog was not too rant, but to rave about Eno (Mr Brian Eno that is, not English National Opera). Maybe that will be another day! See how easily I get diverted, talking first of Gang of Four, no about Opera. Back to the matter of the bald, dommed-headed master of ambient music, cerebral tones and much more beyond. Check out his production credits, written musings and handy keyboards in a musical CV that stretches way back. More than  four decades  I believe – is it really that long?

The reason for focusing on The Life of Brian today. You don’t mind me calling him Brian do you? Oh, it makes you want to say release Woderwick does it…sad Monty Python fan that you are. Ok Mr Eno, too formal? Ok, we’ll stick to Eno. The reason is I just got hold of a copy of ‘Small Craft on a Milk Sea’ his 2010 album released on Opal through Warp Records. It’s fantastic. It’s also perfect that the home of the likes of Afex Twin, ambient guru of the 90’s should release one of Eno’s newer albums. Symbiotic one might say. Ironic that as I start writing about the album the last track ends (slides across to press play, noting remote control by CD player). I saw it in the window of the local Oxfam shop, well I saw the cover and although there’s no text on it I thought that looks like an Eno ambient album. True, plus I’ve always loved design and photography (and in another life dabbled in both)  so was drawn in, visually and literally to the shop. Once I realised it was indeed Eno, only £4.99 and benefiting a good cause to boot, the fate of the CD was sealed and it was duly liberated into my care. It is brilliant by the way!

I have been a fan of Eno’s music, in it’s many forms, for the best part of 35 years, having got a mint copy of Roxy Music’s greatest hits on vinyl at a market in Dunstable in about 1978/9 for £1.99. My older brother had the 12″ single ‘Do The Strand’ and that hooked me, then reeled me in to the world of Eno. That an the fact I was a massive Talking Heads fan by then and Mr Eno produced and played on three key Heads albums. For a while he was effectively the fifth member of the band! More on them another time.

So fast forward a decade, and many plays of those three great Heads records – ‘More Songs About Buildings and Food’, ‘Fear Of Music’ and ‘Remain In Light’, early Roxy Music and Eno solo stuff and I find myself living in Brixton, working at Madame Tussauds & the London Planetarium (sadly no more) and meeting one of my best friends Phil. Now, Phil, shared a bedsit with Bob, and the pair, like me, were mad on music, loved Talking Heads. More importantly they re-introduced me to the ambient world of Eno (I had dabbled and moved on). Experiments with speaker arrangments, early dabbling with quadrophonics, many home-made compilation tapes (cassttes), late-night discussions fuelled by alcohol and hazy late nights playing each other our records followed. Three fabulous years!

At the same time the Planetarium pre-show waiting area featured music from Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks Everything just fell into place – Eno was back. In truth he’s always been there, often like his ambient music, in the background, re-imerging into the forground at various intervals. Just like yesterday, when peering through the Oxfam shop window I felt the need to investigate that interesting artwork and was drawn in once more.

The journey continues…

(Tomorrow I shall try to pull together a random Ten Top Eno related tracks – not necessarily a Top 10 – it’s going to be tricky. I’d be interested to know yours.)  

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About themanofletters

Love poetry, love Marmite, Alright?
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