[…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?