Brian Eno’s solo beginnings in the early Seventies were a fruitful period for the then suggestive, kimono wearing glamour boy. Long before his identity as modern electronic deity come wizard from space was fully realised. Armed with a new found freshness at being liberated from the apparent Ferry lead, chart-topping pop dictatorship. Eno set about moulding and forming his solo career. After a brush with King Crimson front man Robert Fripp in a short-lived project called “Pussyfooting” Eno started work on what would turn out to be one of the most innovative, avant-garde and unwashed albums of the so-called Glam period.
Released on a bed of rumours including mysterious porn collections and shaved “Japanese style” pubic regions, ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ was the first roaring, often deranged offering from the glossy libertine showboater. 1974 saw it’s release to widespread praise and an almost unrelenting wave of pop press acclaim. Much to the disdain of Mr Ferry, it was recorded with the help of most of Roxy Music’s other members and with the lounge-lizard’s walls knocked down they sure did flourish. From the moment Eno and co start swaggering through ‘Needles in the Camel’s Eye‘ you get a flavour of what is to come. His great ingenuity when using two drummers in parallel and far-out sonic batterings from Manzanera on guitar are not short of inspiring.
Warm Jets doesn’t fail to impress and is one of those records that make you “Move in a funny sort of way”, as he put it when referring to a certain Mr Gary Glitter. Eno claimed Needles in the Camel’s Eye was an “instrumental with singing on it” which doesn’t baffle the mind when you hear those train wreck notes combusting in a glam rock foray, the lyrics become less than essential. More so – as Eno so often rambled – the syllables and phrasing are of top priority, cramming as much aggression in with words based on sonic effectiveness.
This record was a definite (and very decadent) kick in the teeth for Ferry and with the tongue-in-cheek mockery that is “Dead Finks Don’t Talk” Eno wasn’t going down the covert road. It had only been 3 months since Eno had gone packing from his old outfit, so the record is seemingly rife with sarcasm and pokes surely aimed in Ferry’s direction. Another highlight of Warm Jets is the stomping surge of stinging sarcasm “Baby’s on Fire”. Like a psychotic ode to love, it sizzles and snaps taking no prisoners in a somewhat naïve, primative way. Eno in a 1974 interview with Chrissie Hynde for NME said regarding Babys on Fire “I like taking something that’s played down – low-key – contrasting with a voice that’s very anguished, making the whole sound grotesque and aggressive in a pathetic and laughable way. ‘Baby’s On Fire’ starts out as though it’s going to be very sinister, but has very ordinary words, sung with an incredible amount of passion.”
This passion and grotesqueness is just what you get in droves on ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ and what listenable freakish material is it. With Musicians such as Robert Fripp and John Wetton of King Crimson, Bill MacCormick of Matching Mole, Simon King from Hawkwind, Roxy Music (minus Ferry) and producer Chris Thomas it was never going to be anything but a vibrant ear gouging LP. When recording the track ‘On Some Faraway Beach’ they even sampled a ridiculous 27 different pianos to achieve the desired effect. This is a record full of intriguing and just plain barmy ideas that has to be heard. Surely a contender for the best pre-ambient Eno.
It is said that while recording Eno communicated with the musicians almost solely through dance and body language. So i’ll leave you with the image of our glittery, snappy Englishman – dressed like a french aristocrat – doing just that. Oh and “Singing nonsense” and as he put it.
Stand out tracks:
‘Needles in the Camel’s Eye’
‘Babys on Fire’