Sunday, December 27, 2015

Brian Eno - 1973 [1987] "Here Come The Warm Jets"

Here Come the Warm Jets is the debut solo album by Brian Eno, credited only as "Eno". Produced by him, it was released on Island Records in 1974. The musical style of Here Come the Warm Jets is a hybrid of glam rock and art rock, similar to Eno's previous album work with Roxy Music, although in a stronger experimental fashion. In developing the album's words and music, Eno used unusual methods such as dancing for his band members and having them play accordingly, and singing nonsense words to himself that would form the basis of subsequent lyrics. The album features various guest musicians, including members of Roxy Music, Hawkwind, Matching Mole and Pink Fairies, as well as Chris Spedding, and Robert Fripp of King Crimson, who collaborated with Eno a year before in (No Pussyfooting).
Here Come the Warm Jets peaked at number 26 on the United Kingdom album charts and number 151 on the US Billboard charts, receiving a number of positive reviews. It was re-issued on compact disc in 1990 on Island Records and in 2004 on Virgin Records, and continued to elicit praise.

Eno's solo debut, Here Come the Warm Jets, is a spirited, experimental collection of unabashed pop songs on which Eno mostly reprises his Roxy Music role as "sound manipulator," taking the lead vocals but leaving much of the instrumental work to various studio cohorts (including ex-Roxy mates Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, plus Robert Fripp and others). Eno's compositions are quirky, whimsical, and catchy, his lyrics bizarre and often free-associative, with a decidedly dark bent in their humor ("Baby's on Fire," "Dead Finks Don't Talk"). Yet the album wouldn't sound nearly as manic as it does without Eno's wildly unpredictable sound processing; he coaxes otherworldly noises and textures from the treated guitars and keyboards, layering them in complex arrangements or bouncing them off one another in a weird cacophony. Avant-garde yet very accessible, Here Come the Warm Jets still sounds exciting, forward-looking, and densely detailed, revealing more intricacies with every play. 

In 1973, fed up with Bryan Ferry's domineering in Roxy Music, Eno leapt into a solo career that would find him championing the "art" in "artifice." This record is a who's who of the then-burgeoning English art-rock scene, featuring Robert Wyatt, Robert Fripp, and every member of Roxy Music except its leader (thus answering the musical question, "What if Eno had helmed the third Roxy record instead of Ferry?"). Warm Jets sports a lightheartedness that was a refreshing antidote to the pomposity of Yes and ELP on the dark side of art-rock's spectrum, with nonsensical, sound-based couplets such as "Oh headless chicken / How can those teeth stand so much kicking?" This debut is a milestone not just for Eno, but for all rocking music. Listen to Fripp's furious guitars on "Baby's On Fire" and "Blank Frank." It's incredible, Velvet Underground-inspired rock in a scene that had forgotten what rocking meant.

"Here Comes the Warm Jets" announced Eno's intention from the first track; make groundbreaking, melodic music in the Roxy Music vein. The irony is that, for all intents and purposes, this was Eno's version of Roxy Music. If he were the lead vocalist, main songwriter in the band this is the material he'd be putting out there. It makes a great companion piece to Roxy's third album "Stranded". Ferry and Eno, in retrospect, compliment each other very, very well. As Ferry himself stated, he now wishes they had kept Eno and added Eddie Jobson. I couldn't agree more.

The improved sonics are the chief reason to pick this up. The detail is better, clarity is better (even on a cheap stereo) and the warmth and atmosphere of the original recording becomes evident from the first guitar chord. The packaging is another matter entirely. I like the digipak design but do wish that there were some comments from Eno and his band mates about the making of this classic album. The reproduction of the original artwork seems pretty darn close to the original vinyl version for the most part.

From the stuttering Robert Fripp guitar solo for "Baby's On Fire" to the odd chord progression of "Driving Me Backwards", every track manages to capture your attention. This is Eno's candy store and he's displaying all his sweet wares for the first time. Later albums would focus on other elements but here his talent burst forth in full flower.

Another minor complaint--where is "Seven Deadly Finns" and the material from Eno's only charting EP? It would have made a perfect addition to this album (even if it was released as a two disc set keeping the original albums intact and separate). It's a pity. Still, the DSD technique for transferring these priceless recordings captures the vibrant sound and impact of the original recordings without the sterile atmosphere of CD. Well worth picking up. 

Tracks Listing

1. Needles in the Camel's Eye (3:10)
2. The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch (3:05)
3. Baby's on Fire (5:18)
4. Cindy tells me (3:25)
5. Driving me backwards (5:11)
6. On Some Faraway Beach (4:36)
7. Blank Frank (3:35)
8. Dead Finks don't Talk (4:20)
9. Some of them are Old (5:11)
10. Here Come the Warm Jets (4:02)

Total Time 42:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Brian Eno / vocals, keyboards, guitars, synthesizers, treatments
- Simon King / drums
- Nick Kool / keyboards
- Nick Judd / keyboards
- Andy Mackay / keyboards, saxophone
- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Phil Manzanera / guitar
- Paul Rudolph / guitar, bass
- Chris Spedding / guitar
- Busta Cherry Jones / bass
- Bill McCormick / bass
- John Wetton / bass
- Marty Simon / percussion
- Paul Thompson / percussion
- Lloyd Watson / slide guitar
- Sweetfeed / backing vocals
- Chris Thomas / bass