Wednesday, November 18, 2009

King Crimson-Lizard (1970)

When I first heard this album I really didn't know what to make of it. It's like nothing else in the Crimson body of work, and it's not much like anything else by anyone else either. Most immediately noticeable is the way Fripp hangs around in the background, picking on his acoustic guitar and adding some mellotron lines here and there; there are no screaming electric leads at all. The whole album is very warm and acoustic, and in fact the best performances (aside from some excellent acoustic guitar from Fripp in the opening track) come from sax-and-flute player Collins and pianist Tippett. Even Sinfield's lyrics are very different from other King Crimson words; the whole album reads like some kind of nightmarish fairy tale.

Of all the tracks here, only "Lady of the Dancing Water" has a clear comparison - it's another quietly pretty acoustic ballad in the style of, say, "Cadence and Cascade". The first three tracks are all short, psychotic freakouts that go in decreasing order of effectiveness. "Cirkus" is the coolest thanks to its weird juxtaposition of evil mellotron and clear acoustic guitar; "Happy Family" is the weakest thanks to Haskell's terribly distorted vocals (I don't have a problem with his singing in general, but that distortion is just too much for me). The title track is the only side-long epic King Crimson ever wrote, and it's a little rusty. The opening two sections are great - Jon Anderson's vocals in "Prince Rupert Awakes" are a fresh surprise and work very well within the framework of the music, and the improvisatory middle and beautiful closing part of "Bolero" are equally effective. However, the band seems to get a bit lost in indulgence in the ten-minute "Battle of Glass Tears" - this section has never gotten through to me. "Big Top", on the other hand, is a fittingly weird closing track to a uniquely insane album.

Lizard is perhaps the most underrated of King Crimson's albums, and contains some of the band's most unique, demented, and enjoyable work. While it'd be a poor place to begin exploring the world of KC, it's a strong effort overall, whatever Mr. Fripp thinks about it."

This album is love or hate as far as Crimson fans go but I think it's utterly fantastic. It's weird for sure but you probably knew that already. Some songs are lush and beautiful, others are just straight bizarre. It's true that this probably isn't the best Crimson album to start with unless you like way weirder music to begin with. Which may be the case. Either way, this is a great album. Dig it.

Playing indoor games

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Staff Carpenborg and the Electric Corona-Fantastic Party (1970)

All right, we'll admit that we were a bit doubtful about this at first, just from reading the hypesheet/liner notes, which claim, in part, that this is one of the "last great Kraut secrets" and because of its discovery, "the history of Krautrock has to be rewritten". And we're still not entirely sure if the person who wrote that was actually joking or not. But, while this is definitely not some undiscovered classic on the order of a Can, Faust or Neu! (or even the more obscure likes of Siloah, Kalacakra, Necronomicon, etc.) it IS pretty cool. And weird. Especially weird. Imagine Reynols or Yahowha 13 gone lounge, trying to entertain a bunch of jet-setters at some hip, swinging '60s party... It's called Fantastic Party after all and that's what it was meant as, a party record! Some cheesy German record label in 1970 put this together, presumably paying (with drugs?) a bunch of studio musicians to create a one-off psychedelic exploitation album by a nonexistent "band". A dime a dozen back then, maybe, but these guys really really went for it. It is pretty darn tripped out. Groovy but really off kilter and demented. Maybe we'd compare it to the children's songbook funk of Stark Reality, if you've heard the reissue of that. Or some totally dosed jazz combo doing porno music. Good times. Yup, it's got stinging fuzz guitar solos, flute warbling, hiccuping percussion, damaged "singing", bizarro titles... this has LSD written all over it. If you went to this "fantastic party" you'd know that Peter Fonda would be there for sure. And go-go dancers with dayglo body paint. And Timothy Leary, and midgets, and people who look like extras from a Terry Southern penned movie too.
A track from this appeared on the Kraut! Demons! Kraut compilation from a few years back, and if you have that, well rest assured, the entirety of this album is of the same high quality of fucked-upedness. So, true krautrock classic or not, we're glad it's been reissued, we're digging it! We only have to wonder, why did the reissuers hate the original cover so much that they felt the need to provide a new, totally ugly one?? Fortunately the LP's real (and actually quite rad, despite what they thought) cover is reproduced on the tray card, featuring a bevy of good-looking, polyester-clad partygoers truly having a FANTASTIC time."

Weirdo Kraut Lounge Jazz? Something like that. Initially found these guys on the ever popular Psych Funk 101 compilation that everyone here seems to be digging hard so I figured I'd post this gem. It's awkward and groovy, two of the best words ever. Enjoy that fantastic party, eh?

All men shall be brothers of Ludwig

Shellac-At Action Park (1994)

"Shellac's first three singles (especially Uranus) suggested that Steve Albini was moving into more subtle and dynamic territory after the musical and lyrical brutality of Big Black and Rapeman, but the group's first full-length album, At Action Park, proved that the misanthropic noisemaker responsible for Atomizer and Songs About Fucking was still very much present. "My Black Ass," "Dog and Pony Show," and "Il Porno Star" revealed Albini was still obsessed with sex, violence, and anti-social behavior, and the hard, metallic guitar figures of "Pull the Cup" and "Song of the Minerals" were as uncompromisingly abrasive as ever, with Albini's trademark engineering (dry, stark, and crystal clear) making the rough edges all the more punishing. But At Action Park does reveal a band more musically intelligent and imaginative than Big Black, and while it hits a good bit harder than the 7"ers that preceded it, Shellac is still significantly more concerned with the space between the notes than any of Albini's earlier projects. Just as importantly, in drummer Todd Trainer and bassist Bob Weston, Albini had found a human rhythm section that lived up to his exacting specifications, with Weston adding both melody and force with his thick, meaty tone and Trainer displaying both precision and an expressive abstraction behind the kit. And while Shellac's idea of a good time would still make most folks uncomfortable, there's a dark but genuine humor to a few of the cuts (especially "Il Porno Star"), and "Song of the Minerals" suggests Albini may actually feel compassion for one of his protagonists. At Action Park made it clear that Steve Albini was slowly but surely maturing, while stubbornly refusing to compromise in the process."

It's Albini. It's noisy. It's intense. It's mandatory.

Pull the cup

Monday, November 16, 2009

King Tubby-Declaration of Dub (1970s?)

"King Tubby is to this day synonymous with dub. He was a man who had a passion for fiddling with sound equipment, and turned that passion into a new musical genre and a veritable art form. He may have started his career as a repairman, but before he was done, his name was one of the most respected around the world. He worked with virtually every artist in Jamaica, and his name on a remix was like gold, a seal of quality that was never questioned."

Not a whole lot of good info on this one but my roommate popped it on last night and I was flying. In orbit. So I believe this is a session from the 70s remixing some Bunny Lee tunes (like much of his output) and it bumps like some good Dub should. So what else do you need, right?

Thanks Robert. Good find.

Dub nasty

Sunday, November 15, 2009

SunnO)))-White2 (2004)


There's a remark in the annals of music history that Igor Stravinsky once said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that Antonio Vivaldi didn't write 685 concertos, but he wrote one concerto 685 times. For outsiders, it's assumed the same can be said for the Cali/NY duo Sunn 0))); on the surface, the group has been recording the same method of attack for five albums now. Riffs drive straight to the spine, embedded in a sea of deafening volume and minimalist approach. But once beneath the murky sludge, cloaked guitarists Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson's wide terrain becomes more evident.

The group's appropriately titled White 2 serves as a bookend for last year's sprawling White 1. Heshers abound with jaws agape, the group took a subversive turn by focusing more on ambience (hence "white"), and abandoning the atonal riffs that crushed so many subwoofers on previous outings. An emphasis on vocals (thanks to weirdo mouthpiece Julian Cope and former Burning Witch eye candy/throat terror Runhild Gammelsaeter) and the occasional dusty drum-machine beat make for a new kind of doom, more open ended and nocturnal than anything a reshaped Sabbath riff could yield.

"Hell-0)))-Ween" revisits the ideas of yore, as a bed of turgid riffs lumber down your body like earthworms through dirt. This is the Sunn 0))) that brings to mind said Stravinsky quote; the kind of endurance test that was birthed by Tony Conrad, and revitalized for longhaired outcasts by The Melvins. Wise move on the duo's part to get it out of the way for more risky, but extraordinary delights. "bassAliens" has been the opening trademark of the last two Sunn 0))) tours, and in recorded form, it's reminiscent of the besetting paranoia while witnessing a stage – nay, a room – overflow with thick smoke and green light. With a repeated guitar phrase that wouldn't sound out of place on John Fahey's Womblife, the group experiments with a careful use of space, allowing touring member Rex Ritter's moog to carefully step in, out and around broken pickups, detuned E-strings, and completely fucked amps. This is the Sunn 0))) that spites said Stravinsky quote, as well as any idea of the exhausted phrase "stoner metal." Instead, it's the stuff that fevers are made of.

The duo aim for the bottom; they go beyond any sense of actual referenced music, and search for the base of sound itself, thus dodging comparisons to Metal, Psychedelia, Experimental, Minimalism, and Noise whilst gaining fans from all fields. In this, their artwork and legion of collaborators, they've created their own universe, one that allows them the pleasure of never saying "uncle" to anyone.

The group's artwork is full of reference to 16th century European gothic paintings, portraits of cheetahs devouring a four-legged prey, even a photo of Ozzy's epilepsy medication. Their choice of collaborators is unpredictable, from obvious contenders Merzbow and Joe "Thrones" Preston, to left-field picks like Petra Haden (daughter of jazz legend Charlie Haden) or Dawn Smithson (formerly of Rex Ritter's psychedelic groove robbers Jessamine). On "Decay 2 (Nihils Maw)," the duo brought in legendary black metal vocalist Attila Csihar (most notably of Mayhem) to – not tell a tale of brutal murder or dark worship – recite verses from the Sanskrit book, The Srimad Bhagavatam. Through Csihar's deep throat-singing and Sunn 0)))'s hellish drone-fuck monsoon, the group has built a bridge that starts with a book well over 5000 years old, meets La Monte Young in the middle, and then dissolves at the feet of black metal. The void beckons."

I'm sure all of you are familiar with SunnO))) but as I listen to this album as I write a paper, I'd much rather post it instead. Stone Age heaviness is the order of the day including that super paranoid doom freakout "bassAliens." I think this is great for studying but you be the judge. Hitherto!

Nihils' Maw

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Swans-Filth/Body to Body, Job to Job (1982-85/2000)

"Since Swans demise in 1997, Michael Gira has meticulously re-packaged exactly what he wants to preserve of Swans 15 year legacy via double cd re-issues, this being the fourth and final one. This set couples the long out print 1983 debut album Filth and the 1982-85 studio out takes and live recording collection Body to Body, Job to Job. In addition is a previously unreleased 25 minute live show in NYC from 1982/3 and a 9 minute live version of "Raping a Slave" from 1984. Noticeably missing are the four songs from the debut s/t EP from 1982.

"Swans always had the potential for brutal sonic assaults throughout their life span but this era in particular focused solely on an uncompromising and unapologetic, sledge hammer sound. Melody and harmony are essentially absent in favor of pounding percussion, raw slabs of guitar and bass sound and Gira's guttural vocals. Lyrically Gira reels against authority and control, money, sex, violence, etc. with simple, receptive slogan like chants. Altogether it's a big, ugly, intense, slowed down mutant strain of punk rock that was all their own, at least, up until everyone started copying them. The 25 minute live show (indexed as 1 track) on the Filth disc is bootleg quality but in this case it doesn't much matter as it's comparable to, and just as interesting as, the numerous rare live recordings on the Body to Body disc.

It's a bit of a challenge to listen to all of one disc at a time, much less the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes, but for those days when you get a traffic ticket, you're doing your taxes, you hate your job, your significant other leaves you or you just plain hate everything ... this is your soundtrack. Say what you will about Gira's track selection for these re-issues but he certainly did a great job of creating a great looking and sounding set of discs for old and new fans alike"

Some of the vilest, heaviest music ever put to tape. This two disc set documents their years as a snarling, fearsome beast of a band that pretty much laid the foundation for plodding, terrifying music. I couldn't possibly convey the ferocity of this band if you paid me. One of my all time favorite bands during my favorite period of theirs. Do yourself a favor. Be Hard. Two parts. Go.

Be strong (Filth) Be hard (Body to Body, Job to Job)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Xhol Caravan/Xhol-Motherfuckers GMBH & Co KG (1972)

"Between the album's title and the cover art, crudely handwritten song titles, and other information on a smudgy background, Xhol Caravan (or Xhol, since the Caravan is crossed off their name) were living up to their reputation as one of the most defiantly underground of the Krautrock bands. The music on Motherfuckers, Xhol's third record, recorded in 1970 but not released until two years later on the legendary Ohr label, is even more diverse and experimental than earlier efforts. The opening track, "Radio," sounds like the beginning of Faust's first album, radio static out of which bits of songs emerge, early Xhol tracks and even a couple excerpts from the band's earlier incarnation as a conventional R&B act, Soul Caravan. "Orgelsolo," on the other hand, is a nine-and-a-half minute ambient organ solo that starts off quite minimal before going into the cosmic realms of Klaus Schulz. The less interesting "Grille" begins with crickets chirping for several minutes before a flute and bongo improvisation gets added in. The other tracks are more similar to the jazzy rock improvisations of earlier Xhol. Of these, the last track is a real standout, a live version of "Love Potion Number 9" that is some of Xhol's freakiest acid-fried material as it flies out into orbit into a long 13-minute improvisational before the crazed vocalist returns toward the end. Spanning free jazz, psychedelic and progressive rock, Motherfuckers is an intense work of creative, mind-warped music."

What a weirdo band. What started as some grooving Soul/R&B gets morphed into an avantgarde Soul/R&B monster! Not the easiest album to get through but it's worth it for the "Love Potion 25" jam. Wow. This is some funked up strange music that you guys should check out at the very least.


Wooden Shjips-Vampire Blues/I Hear the Vibrations 7" (2008)

The sound of Wooden Shjips has changed very little from last year's full length, but then you know what they say, why fix what ain't broke, and there's nothing broke about WS's glorious druggy din. A washed out retro fuzz drenched blues jam, equal parts Doors and Spacemen 3, the bass a deep relentless pulse, the drums simple and motorik, the guitars unfurling thick clouds of blurred buzz and blissed out riffage, occasionally coalescing into psychedelic leads, but just as quickly dissipating back into the druggy murk, the vocals a lazy drawl, drifting through shimmering clouds of distortion and blurred effects, and of course, the organ, wheezing and whirring, adding a thick warm blanket of chordal buzz over everything. The sound on these two tracks is really much more Spacemen 3 or Loop than Doors, dark and deep and druggy, swirling and lo-fi and fuzz drenched and totally hypnotic. And just maybe enough to tide us over until the next full length..."

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Goddamn school and all. But anyways, Vampire Blues is a downright awesome Neil Young cover, probably to the point that it's better than the original. If you already know Wooden Shjips, this is standard fare so jump all up in it. For the uninitiated, this is some straight retro droney garage rock done right in a swirling cacophonous haze . And who could argue with a thing like that?

I'm a vampire baby

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Faust-71 Minutes (1973-75)

"71 Minutes Of...
compiles from two unreleased albums' worth of material from Faust. Unfortunately, this is a band that I've never really warmed up to all that much. I am able to muster up some amount of words of praise when writing about their music, but I really have to work to come up with them, like Spencer Tracy reeling in the fish in The Old Man and the Sea. When it comes down to it, there simply is little about the lo-fi aesthetic of this band that doesn't leave me cold.

The first half of the CD centers around two lengthy jams entitled "Munic." The first one, "Munic A," grooves along nicely with a solid metronomic beat and mumbled vocals, though I already get my fix with this sort of thing from Can, and for me they deal a purer product. "Don't Take Roots" is a strange type of psychedelic soul, not of the "Strawberry Letter 23" sort, but more like Malcolm Mooney sitting in with the Velvet Underground (the back-up vocals even have a vintage Cale-Morrisson quality to them). Unfortunately, the lead vocalist sounds like he's in mid-hernia, which essentially ruins the song for me. The chant of "Party 5" is also pretty abrasive and painful to listen to.

There are brief moments that I marginally enjoy, and I tend to stomach better here when they are playing acoustically, like the distant piano and deep rumbling drums of "Meer," or the gentle acoustic guitar and violin in "Psalter." As typified on other tracks, like "Baby" or "Party 8," much of the rest, frankly speaking, sounds unfocused at best and amateurish at worst. After a while, it grows tiresome, sounds simply like guys puttering around in their garage at some point during the early 70s, and just because it's a garage somewhere in Germany doesn't make the result all that more exciting to listen to. And, as I've already indicated, the vocals really suck; it's a big drawback for me.

I react to Faust in exactly the same way I do to the music of Henry Cow, despite the differences between the two bands. Of course, they're not exactly from different worlds, with both championing a sense of experimentation and improvisation, and Chris Cutler is obviously a fan, this being carried on his ReR label. But for me, Faust's music has a similar arid intellectualism to it: experimentalism that dances around the bases rather than makes a solid dive into home plate. Adventurous, sure, but I still get no lasting pleasure in listening to it. The good news if you are a Faust fan, of course, is that if you are into the other early albums, you should love this one just about as much."

This has been non-stop listening for me the past month or so. From that "Munic/Yesterday" trance to the fucked out off kilter groove of "Don't Take Roots," "J'ai Mal Aux Dents" funk into "Chromatic" drone, this is a bad ass collection of material. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious recommended.

Don't Take Roots

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cannibal Ox-The Cold Vein (2001)

"I’m young, and relatively new to the music-junkie scene, so I never had the opportunity to experience a revolutionary album until it had already been recognized, co-opted, and enshrined in the musical canon. This didn’t bother me in the least: I could still buy, listen to, and enjoy these albums at my leisure, and since they were new to me, I could still be surprised and excited. However, I was missing something as an eternal history student. I was missing the exhilaration that hits when you put on something brand new and know that it will change everything. You know the album will affect what you hear for years to come, and you can only guess at the ways its influence will be incorporated. It’s an emotional experience, one of the most exciting for any music listener. Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein hit me in this way.

The first thing every critic wants to do is compare The Cold Vein to the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. It’s easy to see why. Both groups hail from New York. Both blend revolutionary (the word ‘innovative’ doesn’t go far enough) lo-fi production with dark, pessimistic rhymes. Both bring their own lexicon to dense flows. And Cannibal Ox’s stunning debut must remind many of Wu-Tang’s similar strike from nowhere. But the most important similarity is each group’s uncompromising originality, a quality that ranges from refreshing to downright stunning.

Not to disparage Can Ox’s gifted MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah, but the production is what really sets The Cold Vein apart from the pack. El-P (of the influential indie hip hop crew Company Flow) masterminds the entire project with gritty, evocative beats whose lo-fi crackle almost obscures the lush texture of the music. El-P keeps the instrument fragments – pieces of piano melodies and horn licks – of his Company Flow work, but constructs layers of analog synths and fuzzy atmospheric textures around the percussion. The entire album sounds like it was recorded in a basement on a four-track (even the vocals have a metallic echo) creating music that perfectly matches the theme and feeling of the rhymes. And the feelings wrapped up in The Cold Vein are complex – Vast and Vordul alternate between depression, aggression, and anger. These emotions stem from their surroundings in the bleak ghettos of the Big Apple. “New York is evil at its core” spits Vast on the opener, “Iron Galaxy,” amid burbling synth arpeggios, chiming background textures, and scratchy horn samples.

“Atom” delves further into El-P’s street-side psychedelia, using dirty analog buzzes and aggressive turntable scratching to obscure sonorous horns and guitars. The instruments never fully emerge from the cacophony, but nevertheless shine through hopefully, much like Can Ox’s tortured MCs.

“B-Boy Alpha” is a storming tour-de-force, hurling synth squelches and electric guitar solos against haunting piano twinkling (a nod to RZA perhaps). Vast and Vordul storm the mic, constructing elaborate rhymes around how they escaped the violence of the streets through their music. This contrasts sharply with the next track, the sparse, spacey “Raspberry Fields,” which features stuttering drum kicks and synths that whine like tiny dive-bombing planes.

Vast easily tackles the album’s centerpiece, “The F-Word.” It’s an unrequited love song, a definite rarity in street hip hop, but Vast pulls it off with deft wordplay. “She was in a love triangle / But it’s not like my feelings weren’t there / To make it a square,” he recalls. The ‘f’ in “f-word” stands for “friend”: Vast holds the much-maligned position of “just-friend” with the object of his affection. Later, he laments “I was supposed to be the friend / But I’m getting fried in the end.” This couplet sees Cannibal Ox’s poetry at its most complex – combining the words ‘fried’ and ‘end’ make the word ‘friend.’ Moments like these show not only the skill of Can Ox’s MCs, but the potential for hip hop lyrics to work on as many levels as the finest English poetry.

If The Cold Vein has one weakness, it is in its length: at 75 minutes, it can be exhausting. However, more often than not, it’s simply enthralling, and an epic like this calls for not one, but two album closers. First, “Pigeon,” an uncompromising piece of ghetto-verite, assisted by El-P’s epic production. The flows roll by effortlessly, detailing the ghetto almost cinematically. Vordul comes in with a particularly disturbing verse: “Cats who pop flows shot heavy through the nostril / Brain sizzle grab the pistol and get hostile / He caught you alone fuse blown / Unemployed screaming ‘That's why I robbed you!’” However, the album’s bonus track provides a needed epilogue to The Cold Vein’s intensity. Vordul and Vast construct another atypical lyrical stew, involving the metaphor of the pigeon as the disenchanted ghetto-dweller from the previous track. Against the refrain of “Scream phoenix,” they extort their fellow pigeons to elevate themselves through art. The goal never comes across as preachy – merely helpful advice from a couple of “street peasants” who managed not only to advance themselves, but advance music in the process."

One of the best Hip-Hop albums ever, bar none. Probably the finest Hip-Hop production job ever. It's really hard to talk about an album that pretty much redefines what "rap" is capable of doing. Those are some creepy fucking beats! Jesus. If you haven't had the pleasure/horror, than by all means. Grabs its.

Ox out the cage

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Brian Eno-Here Come the Warm Jets (1973)

One of popular music's most endearing oddballs, Brian Eno's divergent output can nevertheless be tied together by his fascination with creating and manipulating sound textures. A self-described "non-musician" and renowned producer for some of the biggest and most respected names in the business (Talking Heads, David Bowie, U2), Eno has had a massively influential career. His own work has perhaps become most identified with his minimalistic ambient experiments, but Eno did release four albums of quirky pop music in the middle of the 1970s. He rarely returned to the format after 1977's Before and After Science, but these four fascinating albums reveal a major talent for the style are quite a legacy in their own right. Over the years, I have gone back and forth with each of these albums in terms of which I think is the best. I've settled on Another Green World as the pick of the bunch, but I think that the other three aren't far behind and have few qualitative differences between them. Eno's songs are often incredibly simple, yet his talent for arrangment and great gift for melodic deployment ensures that they're never simplistic. His flair for the unorthodox keeps the songs from being predictable. These are albums that I have played over and over for many years and still enjoy hearing.

Fresh from his split with Roxy Music, Eno recorded Here Come The Warm Jets in the fall of 1973. It is the first of Eno's many solo albums and it is the only one of his records that has much in common with the music by his former band — due in no small part, I'm sure, to participation by Eno's former bandmates (minus Bryan Ferry) on several of the album's cuts. Among the other musicians are King Crimson's Robert Fripp and John Wetton, who appear on two of the album's weirder tracks. Eno isn't credited with playing much on this album; apparently, he functioned mostly as a writer, producer and singer. A word on Eno's voice — it's one of the most distinct in popular music and I think it is a shame that he didn't make more albums that featured his vocals. Flat and somewhat robotic, yet capable of projecting warmth; dry and distanced but nevertheless expressive, Eno's voice is the perfect complement to music that itself is a negotiation between the artificial and the organic. As for the actual songwriting, Eno's lyrics tend toward the bizarre and daft, although the straightforward, socially relevant "Cindy Tells Me" indicates that this is more of a creative decision than an artistic limitation.

Warm Jets is eclectic and unlike much else that existed in popular music at the time, but you can hear its roots in some of the early Roxy Music songs. "Needles In The Camera's Eye" and "The Paw-Paw Negro Blowtorch" have a propulsive, glam-like veneer that I would surmise germinated in Roxy's "Remake/Remodel" and "Virginia Plain." More sinister and strange, "Baby's On Fire" (which features one of Robert Fripp's best guitar solos), "Driving Me Backwards" and "Blank Frank" contain elements that Eno first exhibited on his creepfest "The Bogus Man," from the 1972 Roxy album For Your Pleasure, though these are all much more visceral.

The other songs can be seen as genre experiments, but nothing is that simple when you're dealing with Eno. "Cindy Tells Me" is kind of a doo-wop pastiche but it's also an irreverant swipe at feminism and has what I think is the album's most memorable melody — which is saying something, because this record is full of them. "On Some Faraway Beach" starts with a simple piano melody and then gradually swells up to a glorious wall-of-sound climax — complete with amplified, echoey drums — worthy of the most dramatic Phil Spector productions. "Dead Finks Don't Talk" and "Some Of Them Are Old" come close to being too self-consciously arch for my tastes and they probably would be if they were by any other artist (though I honestly can't think of any other artist who would have written them) but "Finks" is redeemed by the crazy chorus and warped second verse, and "Some of Then Are Old" has a totally unexpected slide guitar solo inserted into the middle which almost sounds like a ukelele. It's impossible for me to dislike something so effectively audacious on the basis of principle.

I guess this album had a tough time finding an audience back in 1974. A flummoxed Rolling Stone reviewer declared Warm Jets to be "annoying, because it doesn't do anything," and hoped Eno would "attempt to structure his work rather than throw together the first ten things that come to mind" the next time he made an album. It must be that the many years of exposure to whimsy, irony and postmodernity in popular music have conditioned those of us who grew up in the '80s, because all I hear when I play Warm Jets is a creative batch of really good songs."

This is a pop record ( a weird one) and though it's before Eno got super weird, it's still hinting at what was to come. "Blank Frank" is fucking scary for a poppy song. Just insane. "Needle in the Camel's Eye" is straight fun. Try to not bop your head to it. I think his vocals are so out there and so damn good across the board. I love this record. Indulge.