Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space Episode One. Brian Eno.

There are more than a few people in music who divide opinion, and here is your chance to share your tuppenceworth. Some are talentless, while others waste what talent they have. Some are pretentious or may even have poor table manners. A Waste Of Space is all about creating an alternative history for the week’s subject, fuelled by the opinions, reminiscences and musical tastes of Spillers.

Now you may hold views on the subject which might not be considered acceptable over on RR. Here, however, you may fawn over the object of your affection or diss the blighter and yes, even a considered meh is fully acceptable.  Any stance should be supported with some form of evidence or justification.

Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno

This week’s subject is Brian Eno, who used to wear make-up and ostrich feathers and has since made a virtue of baldness. That’s all you’re getting from me – it’s up to you lot to write the rest of the Life of Brian.

Off you go then.

69 thoughts on “Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space Episode One. Brian Eno.

  1. I find him more attractive than Bryan Ferry. That’s probably not the contentious sort of stance you’re after. But it’s true.

      • As he is now. Sort of tidy and bald. Plus he looks rather genial. I have no feelings about his music one way or another really. Mainly because I don’t know much of it. Quite like his production work on James’s “Laid” album. And “Achtung Baby” is alright.

      • I think he has aged beautifully. He’s always had a nice face, and i kind of have a thing for guys in makeup (hi Mick and Keith) but i’ll take him without the hair, feathers and the slap. He looks great, and it’s nice to see a bald guy whow doesn’t feel the need for the usually accompanying goatee (with apologies to other bald guys with goatees). Oh yeah, i like his music a lot too.

  2. I saw him years ago with Roxy music and was impressed by his reptilian green suit, with big green blisters all over it. Since then I know very little about him apart from “Another Green World”, which is rather good, and his connection with Talking Heads. he seems to be supremely talented but I’m afraid that’s the extent of my knowledge.

    • I would have liked to have seen that era of Roxy – had to make do with a more recent Eno-free reunion. He did the right thing with his hair though Ali. I don’t think he would have been taken quite as seriously if he’d been sporting a comb over.

      • Skullet is the way to go… (at least, that’s the way I’m gonna go when I get to high-tide on the scalp…)

      • I haven’t had a mousse loose in ma hoose for a couple of decades or more… in fact, I last used it at about the time that I last listened to LiR for pleasure!

      • I’ve just tracked down a You Tube clip from 1972 and it was actually Andy MacKay who had the green suit – he is wearing it in the video – I suppose it was 40 years ago so I can be forgiven for forgetting who wore what.

        Jeeez !!! 40 years !!! I’ve scared myself.

  3. I wish he’d never got involved with U2. The slippery slope started with The Unforgettable Fire. He gave Bono full licence to be a pretentious twat and look where that got us.

    Other than that I have liked and even loved a lot of what he has done, especially with Bowie.

  4. Brian Eno is not someone I could really dislike … or is he? Funnily enough , much as I like soem early Roxy and indeed the odd solo song (Baby’s On Fire) I was only thinking yesterdayhow he managed to take one of the best mainstrem bands of the early 80s and in space of one album make them utterly boring. I speak of course of U2. Boy – brilliant! October – brilliant-ish!
    War – brilliant! The Unforgettable Fire – sorry ..I nodded off halfway through.
    I’ll hold that against him – otherwise he seems interesting.

  5. “Some are pretentious or may even have poor table manners. ”

    Have you read the Siobhan Fahey article on he Guardian Music page? It briefly covers her departue from Bananarama – probably the best and most truthful reason ever given for someone leaving a “band” acrimoniously!

  6. Love “Another Green World”, Before and After Science” and some of his “ambient” albums.

    Like his production and collaborations with Talking Heeds.

    Don’t get U2 and why he bothered with them.

    Quite fancied him as Roxy’s glam alien and wish he’d got his wish to put B Ferry’s voice through various delays and distortions at their gigs.

    I don’t think he’s as intellectual as he likes to make out but he is an instinctive innovator who sometimes thinks up a clever rationalization or two after the event.

    He did a great video installation at the ICA (might have got the wrong London Gallery here) back in the late eighties.

    He liked The Slits and punk in general.

    I think on balance that’s love with the occasional bit of annoyance.

  7. Llamapaca’s a waste of space? Well they do take up quite a lot of room, & moult & poop & spit…..oh you were referring to Mr Eno

    Well, could do without all 15 parts of music for elevators, but don’t mind a bit of ambient every now & then. Roxy Music were much more interesting with him in it. As for U2, wasn’t this their fourth album in 5 years & the only tune they really had was Pride. Only so much turd polishing can be done behind the console. Bush Of Ghosts was a game changer, Third Uncle is brilliant & his non-ambient albums are always interesting. Haven’t listened to his latest but Another Day On Earth is a real fave. Not too shabby for a bald non-musician.

    • Heh! The pun, I can assure, you was intentional.

      I agree about Unforgettable Fire, too many albums in a short period.there’s some real filler on there. Eno was bigging up the possibilities of U2 at the time indicating that they would be revealing many hitherto unseen facets. For me they failed to materialise and, apart from a few pop songs here and there I would agree with the consensus that their earlier work was their best.

  8. The guitar work on “Baby’s on Fire” is wort the price of admission, it seems to me…that’s what I remember from when a friends big brother induced us to listen to it in 1974 or so…and he has been everywhere and done everything… Didn’t Nick Clegg–briefly a classmate in the graduate program at Minnesota who kindly pointed out that in a paper I was circulating I probably wanted the phrase “rogue elephant” rather than “rouge elephant”..well, yes–appoint him to something? One last tangent: I’ve always thought the album “June 1, 1974” got rather short shrift in the scheme of things…if only for being known as the ACNE album. I fear all the ambient stuff was too clever for my tastes.

  9. I’m not a fan of his more portentous pretentious stuff and am ambivalent about the ambient ( probably due to early exposure to the No Pussyfooting album) but quite fond of his more “poppy” material.
    I had a chum who was “big” on Roxy and tried (and failed) to convince me that they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. His determined efforts, however, persuaded me to buy Seven Deadly Finns when it came out and I was pretty impressed ( less so by the “b” side which snippets from No Pussyfooting) and bought the next single as well.
    After that, well, there was always something more interesting to spend my meagre pocket money on and I kind of lost track.

    Unimpressed by his ideas of “airport music” etc ( I didn’t live in a airport back then) I haven’t really bothered since.
    Noting his name as a producer, of course, he does a good job but tends to have a “signature” feel to his productions I think.

    Overall, a good egg, I think, if a little over impressed by his own intellectuality in a very 60s Art School kind of a way.


  10. I like the idea of a brilliant, eccentric, innovative boffin musician who used to flounce around in feather boas and make-up; I’ve always found that actually listening to any of his post-Roxy music undermines the whole thing. Best perhaps as a creative collaborator who can set an established musician off in a different direction.

    I am interested in the whole counterfactual history thing; would Roxy have been a better band if he’d stayed longer? I suspect he’d have got bored sooner or later, and it would have damaged – probably destroyed – the band much more because he would then have been firmly established as a core member. As for the U2 thing, the two albums of theirs I actually like are Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, neither of which we’d have without the Eno impact; yes, Unforgettable Fire was tedious, but I’m not sure that they wouldn’t have headed off in the Bono as Messiah direction anyway. Sounds a bit like the traditional “I preferred them when they were playing to four people in a pub in Dublin” routine – you want them to have broken up after October at the latest…

  11. Well, I love early Roxy Music, my favourite Bowie albums are the ones he had something to do with and My Life In the Bush of Ghosts is the only thing I own involving any member of Talking Heads, so for me he remains interesting and relatively unexplored. I think he was more attractive with the gold lame and berets, but he’s not really my type.

    Suggestions from anyone for where I should start if I want to listen to his solo efforts? I tried a bit of Another Green World, but wasn’t grabbed by it.

  12. I have more respect for Brian Eno and his music than for almost any other performer. For someone who started playing keyboards in the 70’s glam rock era to be still producing and recording shows a tallent for music that outstrips many of his contempories. The range of styles of the people he has worked with shows how he is regarded within the music industry. He has, over a long period, worked with many different types of musicians including Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Daniel Lanois, U2, David Byrne, Gavin Bryars, Coldplay Devo, Belinda Carlisle and Dido to name but a few. His music has been used in many films (The Lovely Bones, Dune etc) and he has worked with Microsoft and NASA.
    Although many people would place his music into the “ambient” category, his canon of work is much larger. From his early recordings – such as “Here Come the Warm Jets” – to his later work, he has never wanted to stand still and will continue to develope and inovate.
    On a personal note My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, in which he collaborated with David Byrne, is the album which changed my thinking on the type of music I was listening to and broadened my outlook towards a greater range.

    • I agree with you about My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, which I was listening to last weekend and it put the idea into my head. I think his main contribution may well be that he has broadened musical taste, which makes the collaboration with the likes of Coldplay all the more baffling.

  13. Ye he has a nice shiny head that I wouldn’t mind running my duster over now and again to maintain it’s form. Mr Mena reckons his own baldness wasn’t helped by all the dye he put on it in the 70’s/80’s. Perhaps that’s the same thing with Brian. He looks great for his age tho.
    Musically. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts brill. Loved him with Roxy Music especially The Strand

    • I’m with Mr Mena: my shininess of head was certainly hurried on by a particularly catastrophic bleach job. I was left in agony – and with a scorched-earth scalp that never recovered.

      • He used to crimp it like mad as well. It was like Phil Oakey’s at one time. When I show the kids old photos they have a right good L.O.L. He looks much better without hair, and he doesn’t suffer from head-lice like we do. I was in my 40’s when I got them first. When we were kids, the problem was sorted by Nitty Nora the Bug Explorer. Now it’s all gone PC mad, as schools arn’t allowed to inform individual child/parent. So the little buggars are having a right old swing time jumping from one head to the next, laying their grubby little eggs everywhere, with no Nora wivva nit-comb about to spoil the fun.

      • D’you know, you couldn’t make this shit up. My head’s been itchy since I wrote about nits. I thought it was coz I’d been thinking about em. Just washed me hair and ran the Nitty Gritty comb through it to check. Got bloody nits me innit!! Where’s that feckin’ Nora!!

  14. Having a personal aversion to rouge, feathers and lounge lizards, I was never a fan of Roxy Music but I can see that Eno gave them a welcome dash of musicality. Although Boy and War are the best U2 albums, I was easily attracted to the production on Unforgettable Fire (but that was enough Bono for me…).
    I don’t know if I have him – or the far more inventive and original Mr Byrne – to thank for the Talking Heads’ albums but I’m grateful for them. I have Bush of Ghosts and his collaboration with John Cale, Wrong Way Up, but there’s an element of over-repetition and over-simplification on both that I believe is down to Eno and which is probably why I seldom play them.
    He undoubtedly is, as Aba says, a ‘brilliant, eccentric, innovative boffin musician’ and I’m glad he’s around. Anyone who comes up with the Oblique Strategies idea and can make artists do it must be someone the industry needs. Is he becoming a badge of credibility that any old act can buy (I won’t mention who I’m thinking of in case Shoey gets upset again)? Probably.
    On balance: essential but a teensy bit overrated.

    An Interesting Idea For A Blog, llama. May I suggest, for the sake of World Peace, that you never make rap/hip-hop the subject? People will get upset and upset others.

    • You make some good points Chris. The badge of credibility for hire is something that struck me about some of his collaborations – the joint efforts with Daniel Lanois in particular developed an off the shelf sonic predictability.

    • Oops! Sorry Chris if I cause offence with the rap stuff and lyrical content I have recently posted. It is never my intention to upset anyone. Truly. I just like the tunes. I will put a warning on the main line whenever I post one in future.

      • You misunderstand me, wilemena. I’m not a fan of the genre but it doesn’t offend me, so please don’t change your posting behaviour.

        I was simply remembering that the subject has, in the past, brought trouble to t’mill. Things were said, offence was taken, departures ensued. All I’m saying is it’s an easy fire to light but a tricky one to extinguish.

    • Moi? Would be interesting to hear a Coldplay version of Wah Wah, but as Coldplay are not as creative a band as James, it won’t be as good. Eno is not your typical producer as he does like to experiment & collaborate with whoever he’s working with. Not all collaborations work as well as others.

  15. Eno couldn’t play and can’t play a bleedin’ thing, but found that with technology its possible to tap out a few notes with one finger, add a few bunches of those together and end up with something that sounds nice.
    Nowadays technology is so good, you can just press a button or two and get something that sounds nice that you can sing over .. with no musical input whatsoever
    Nice but a bit limited
    Love the Talking Heads & Bush of Ghosts, even Low and Bowie, and loved much of the noise the punks bashed out, but I much much prefer music by made by people who enjoy the actual making of it, who are capable of making it interesting, rather than a push button process with a pleasant output
    Hendrix plays, Eno doesn’t .. give me Jimi splashing the paint about, not inoffensive wallpaper

    • Sorry, wot a fraud. A touch of trying to come across all Julie Burchill, but me hearts not in it. I didn’t take to Roxy, but liked his Fripp and Eno stuff and love the Heads. Scratch that grumpiness, he’s okay in places

  16. Lovely new idea for posts, Llama.

    On his own, and with Byrne, he can do no wrong in my book, and I love so much of his stuff. He is also an artistic polymath, and that shows through in the intelligence and novelty of much of his music. He curated Brighton Festival a while back, and I enjoyed meeting him, hearing him talk about his stuff, and seeing some of his other artistic forays.

    I understand Pairubu’s remark (“Overall, a good egg, I think, if a little over impressed by his own intellectuality in a very 60s Art School kind of a way.”)

    But I think the truth is I’m a bit of a sucker for art school types who foray in to music…so, no space wasted methinks.

  17. Anyone know how much Eno earned for composing the Windows start-up theme?

    I don’t have much of an opinion on him (but when was that ever a reason for not commenting on a blog?) – I think the only stuff of his I own and really like are the James albums – but I’m kind of glad he exists.

  18. Painter Tom Phillips encouraged him, recalling “Piano Tennis” with Eno, in which, after collecting pianos, they stripped and aligned them in a hall, striking them with tennis balls.

    That is worth his price of admission on earth alone.
    I don’t want to see it
    I don’t want to hear it.

    But in my imagination, I too, can collect pianos – throw tennis balls at them -record it and be an ARTIST/Musician.

    FECK YEAH 😉 .. what a load of ‘wind up the tabloids’ fun.

  19. I think it´s really remarkable what he did with the Germans, i.e. Cluster and Harmonia. Brian Eno is a genius, he tried to redefine music, somehow. That´s what these German guys did, too, and it´s very nice they worked together for a while.

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