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19 July 2013

Brian Eno - 'Floating in Sequence' (The Impossible Recordworks)

I think I have three records from this illustrious bootleg label, though this is really just an EP, with only six songs. There's some radio sessions which are of stellar sound quality (though still nice and raw and unproduced) and some live material from the 1976 Reading festival. These two live cuts have an expected level of crowd noise, clearly an audience recording, though that's not without merit. 'The Fat Lady of Limbourg' (an odd choice for inclusion, really) starts with ambient (no pun intended) crowd chatter over a pulsing shaker rhythm, sounding like a Casio beat except I don't think Casios were invented yet. The arrangement doesn't stray too far from Taking Tiger Mountain's version, with obviously a more limited palette. Eno's vocalisations are earnestly precise, enunciating every lyric of this cryptic tale as if he means it. One can only imagine a crowd of festival-goers at various stages of drunk and/or high, patiently sitting through this song in hopes that something more satisfying will come along. The applause at the end is pitiful, but the other live cut is 'Third Uncle' so they probably got their wish. This version is as brilliant as ever -- can this song be ruined? Built to Spill even did a great cover of it, check YouTube -- and a bit grungier than the album version, as to be expected.  Simon Phillips keeps it fluttering along on the drums, and Manzanera shines as always, particularly when it turns into a thrashed-out melee. But the radio sessions are the highlights of this LP - 'Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch' absolutely rips, with the guitars exploding in a violent cacophony and sounding at points like some lost private-press psych LP, like something you'd read about in The Acid Archives, except with vocal exaltations that are distinctly Eno's. There's a cover of 'Fever' which is fun, and not at all tossed-off, suggesting that the band actually worked this out for some release. 'Baby's on Fire' has a speedier tempo than normal (or else this is mastered too fast, a not uncommon trait of bootleg LPs) and the solo/bridge section accelerates into screeching monotony before the band comes back having doubled the pulse. This segues right into 'I'll Come Running', which (as I suggested a few posts ago) is greatly improved with crunchy electric guitar riffs instead of piano arpeggios. I never thought of Eno's band as something I would have wanted to see live, but these two cuts suggest they would have been a sight to see. I now realise that if I had a time machine, instead of killing Hitler or doing anything altruistic, I'd probably just use it to see old bands. And eat cheaper lunches.

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