The termite of temptation: the best of Brian Eno

By the early nineties Brian Eno’s cachet was at its apex. I caught up to him the year he did more than produce U2’s best album Zooropa: I discovered Low, “Heroes,” and Lodger, found a Nice Price cassette version of Another Green World, and bought James’ Laid. Then Roxy Music beckoned. Eno was right, as usual: Roxy recorded its best music upon his departure. Through four wonderful vocal albums — unmatched in their admixture of formal invention and gonzo humor — and a beguiling series of collaborations with Robert Fripp, Cluster, Harold Budd, John Cale, and others, Eno has approached rock with a dilettante’s amateurish glee and a sophisticate’s subtlety, bound only by the limits of his curiosity.

So vast as to seem forbidding, his catalog is full of unexpected diversions, uneven by definition. I rank his 1990 Cale collaboration Wrong Way Up with Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and Before and After Science but find the Jon Hassell co-recording Fourth World, Volume 1: Possible Musics a vaporous bore, while Discreet Music and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks are never far away from my stereo, notably around bedtime.

I’m happy with my list: a compulsive miscellany. The songs include the collaborations mentioned above, plus a couple excellent ones from David Bowie’s Outside and a standout from his second Karl Hyde project. The differences between “songs” and “collaborations” is elastic though.

SONGS

1. No One Receiving
2. Spider & I
3. Baby’s On Fire
4. I”ll Come Running
5. One Word
6. This
7. Re-Make/Re-Model
8. Empty Frame
9. Another Green World
10. Burning Airlines…
11. King’s Lead Hat
12. Backwater
13. Becalmed
14. Chance Meeting
15. Back From Judy’s Jungle
16. Editions of You
17. The True Wheel
18. Cindy Tells Me
19. Sky Saw
20. Your Blue Room
21. St. Elmo’s Fire
22. Through Hollow Lands
23. The River (Eno-Cale)
24. Taking Tiger MOuntain
24. Weightless
26. DBF
27. Life is Long
28. Spinning Away
29. No Control
30. Needles in the Camel’s Eye

ALBUMS

1. Here Come The Warm Jets
2. Another Green World
3. Wrong Way Up
4. Before and After Science
5. Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
6. Apollo
7. More Songs About Buildings and Food
8. Outside
9. Discreet Music
10. Zooropa
11. Achtung Baby
12. No Pussyfooting
13. Laid

COLLABORATIONS

1. Gun
2. Listening Wind
3. Say Something
4. Lemon
5. The Fly
6. Heroes
7. The Unforgettable Fire
8. Artists Only
9. Viva La Vida
10. Sometimes
11. Boys Keep Swinging
12. Art Decade
13. Barracuda
14. African Nite Flight
15. The Great Curve

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