Record Review: Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets [part 2]

eno altering bass with ems synth

Eno loved running instruments through the EMS synth

[…continued from last post]

The next track was “Cindy Tells Me;” a 50s bobby-sox throwback like aspects of some of the less outré material from the first Roxy Music album. The dreamy backing vocals were swoon-worthy, but the fly in the ointment manifested when at first the distorted feedback from the guitar line manifested in front of the actual guitar itself. The harsh, metallic noise sounded like a cicada from hell had blown out the song before the feedback faded out, eventually leaving the guitar chord. No one else would dare to disrupt a carefully crafted mood like that but Brian Eno was born to disrupt.The lyrical imagery of white goods rusting in the kitchen very distinctive.

“Cindy tells me, the rich girls are weeping
Cindy tells me, they’ve given up sleeping alone
And now they’re so confused by their new freedoms
And she tells me they’re selling up their maisonettes
Left the Hotpoints to rust in the kitchenettes
And they’re saving their labour for insane reading” – Cindy Tells Me

After that almost throwback tune, it was time for something a little more avant garde. “Driving Me Backwards” was possibly the most anxiety-provoking piece of music I’d ever heard. Based on a two note piano figure that plodded like the Bataan Death March, if proffered a grinding nihilism that perversely, stimulated me. The distorted wah wah guitar by Robert Fripp was the only part of this song that didn’t necessarily sound “backwards. Eno’s vocals featured berserk phrasing and inflection that suggested to me that he might have taken a composition, made a tape of it, threaded it in backwards, and played the reversed music to build the basis of a new composition around. Did he? Let’s listen to an excerpt below.

The quick listen is inconclusive on his vocal melody, but it’s readily apparent that the music bed [and possibly the guitar solo of Fripp] sounded almost the same, whether played forwards or backwards! Making this possibly palindromic music.

“Side two” opened with the most lush and glorious pop imaginable with “On Some Faraway Beach;” the first of three songs with no guitars in them here. The long buildup of pianos on the track [there are 27 piano tracks layered on top of each other] took its good, sweet time to reach a plateau before Eno’s dreamy vocals began the lyrical portion of the song. It’s such a melancholy swirl of a song, but I have to admit, every time I have ever listened to this song from 1973, my pop music brain associated it with a song from five year later. And a very different artist.

The opening of “On Some faraway Beach” sounds like Bob Seger just cut and pasted it to form one of his biggest hits in “Still the Same.” I wish I could embed the first 30 seconds of each song here, but I can’t really. But trust me; they are amazingly congruent visions. The melody and vibe are almost identical. Which leads to the notion of Bob Seger listening to Brian Eno five years before writing the “Stranger In Town” album! Which lead to disbelief. But I loved the symmetry of how Eno faded out the rich synths and layers of piano to leave only a single piano melody in the outro.

When those last four notes come to a brief halt, our senses were then assaulted by the most aggressive transition possible in the next split second as the insane “Blank Frank” began like an unexpected jolt of acid in the face!

Robert Fripp was back with even more attitude [if possible], and this time Eno was driving his guitar through his synths, maximizing the waves of raw aggression that it generated tenfold. Eno’s vocals were as nasal as they had been on “Baby’s On Fire,” but it was his backing vocals that consisted entirely of sinister, rhythmic laughter [of the most mocking kind imaginable] that took this track waaaaay over the top. And the lyrics were more concrete than usual as they painted a very psychotic picture of this titular Frank. “He is the one who will look at you sideways – His particular skill was leaving bombs in people’s driveways.” All of this conspired to make this an insanely aggressive track and the overdriven Bo Diddley beat with handclap rhythms like a psychopathic game of pattycake underneath made certain that that you knew that this song was playing.

Next: …An Effete Slap In The Face?

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, Record Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Record Review: Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets [part 2]

  1. Ade.W says:

    Monk, really enjoying this thread,thanks. It’s a great album no doubt. It strikes me how challenged our young ears were back then, i would love to hear this album for the 1st time again, wow. Its funny the things one remembers…we used to go to a youth club thing back then, all innocent stuff, table tennis etc but you could take records in and play them to everyone, I took in this album and For your pleasure, my girlfriend at the time said “don’t play those albums , no one will like them”
    Ha Ha Ha validation ! (I’m rambling , sorry , it’s the heat)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Medd says:

    I got into this record tragically late. But you know what they say… Eno’s solo output pisses all over Ferry’s.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      John Medd – Welcome to the comments! Hah! Touché. I was digging into the spam filter during a casual moment this weekend and found your comment lodged there in a rare moment of the spam filter providing a false positive. Good thing I did. I consider 1981 tragically late as well so I can’t claim any hipness factor.

      Like

  3. Yes, this album was incredibly schizophrenic and mood/style swing-y. The song “Cindy Tells Me” sometimes strikes me as almost an “answer song” to The Velvet Underground’s “Stephanie Says” (and, but less so, “Candy Says”).

    As for “Driving Me Backwards,” I had always thought that (most clearly) the piano had been reversed — but unlike the Beatles’ “Rain” or “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the effect was used dissonantly on a dirge-like piece rather than as a representation of a drug trip or just general psychedelia. I agree with you that at least the piano part is entirely palindromatic … or should I say palin-dramatic?

    I did not make the connection of “Faraway Beach” with “Still the Same” until I read the sentence here, and instantly my brain connected them. I’ll send you the bill for the rehab I’ll now need in order to disassociate the wretched Bob Seger with the divine Brian Eno. Thanks for sullying my beautiful mind, ya creep!

    “Blank Frank” is truly a showcase for both Eno’s amazing lyrics and Fripp’s buzzsaw guitar figuratively sawing their way through a warped parade of, as you said, Bo Diddley, hard rock, and in a weird way, The Who (at least to me).

    Like

  4. Again, great part two. Blank Frank is a personal fave. The title track instrumental is quite moving. Super melody. Thanks Monk, loving these write ups.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.