My first year of college, 1983, was a huge transitional year in my musical awareness. I worked at the university’s music library and I also became a DJ. At work, I was exposed to classical music for the first time, international music like Indian ragas, and contemporary composers like Steve Reich and Edgar Varese. At the radio station, I played music I was more familiar with at first, punk and prog rock were my staples, but I greatly expanded my repertoire every day. At home, I was obsessed with these four albums by Brian Eno:
Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)
Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy) (1974)
Postcards for this Peking opera gave Eno the idea for the name.
Another Green World (1975)
Here is a book detailing the album: Brian Eno’s Another Green World by Geeta Dayal.
Before and After Science (1977)
Listening to them on Hoopla has brought me back to that time.
These albums are pop music and avant-garde at the same time. They contain driving rhythms and multi-textured aural qualities, with glam-rock sensibilities at times, ambient electronica at others. I hear direct influences of David Bowie and David Byrne. I also hear a unique set of songs similar to other music only in what has come after. The vocal timber is what I think draws me the most. Eno’s voice goes from almost sneeringly punk to decidedly New Wave. A frequent contributor to the albums is Robert Fripp, my favorite guitarist of the era.
I listened to these so often, they would be in the soundtrack to my college years if it were a movie, just like in this one: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Brian Eno has been an influential record producer since the 1970s. His sonic stamp is present on the albums of The Talking Heads, U2, Coldplay, and many others. He was planning to collaborate on another project with his good friend David Bowie. It was Bowie’s recent death that prompted me to revisit these touchstones of my past.