Brian Eno – Wrong Way Up (with John Cale) / Someday World (with Karl Hyde)

Brian Eno & John Cale – Wrong Way Up (1990)

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Brian Eno gave up on making music in 1985 after realizing people were content to hear the same melody over and over for 60 minutes (Thursday Afternoon), so he retreated to his penthouse condo, which he paid for by producing U2 albums. When John Cale approached him with the idea of making a rhythmic-centric album to capitalize on the times, Brian Eno was reluctant, having not made a pop album in 13 years. Cale was persistent, because Songs for Dreilla – his first album with Lou Reed in decades – was just released to acclaim, reminding everyone that John Cale was still alive. Eventually, Eno, hairless and sad that U2 didn’t hire him to produce Rattle & Hum (even if he would have rejected them anyway) acquiesced.

Actually, I think the 5-year hiatus from music and 13-year hiatus from pop music and the second artist on the billing who had just received critical acclaim for his involvement on Songs for Dreilla are important – this is aggressively mediocre, and if it weren’t for any of those things and the synthesized rhythms in-line to what else was happening in 1990, I’d very much doubt that “Been There, Done That” would be Eno’s only charting song in the US (yeah, but actually). Not only are the songs not there for a song album (most of them play their hands within seconds; the rhythms are barely danceable; the melodies are all supine in that non-melodic way; “Crime in the Desert” is a re-write of “King’s Lead Hat”; the production is flat-flat-flat, etc. – compare to the first half of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts), this sounds dated, just like a lot of what else was happening in 1990. Both Robert Christgau and George Starostin, and even Pitchfork for their write-up of “Lay My Love” (one of two highlights) as one of the best songs of the 1990s, call this album out (“If [Eno’s] return to song form seems too easy, well, maybe it was”; “these songs are not that good, honestly,” respectively) but slap praise on it because two great artists showed up, I guess. The other highlight is “Spinning Away.”

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Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – Someday World (2014)

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Brian Eno gave up on making music in 1985 after realizing people were content to hear the same melody over and over for 60 minutes (Thursday Afternoon), so he retreated to his penthouse condo, which he paid for by producing U2 albums. When John Cale approached him with the idea of making a rhythmic-centric album to capitalize on the times, Brian Eno was reluctant, having not made a pop album in 13 years. Cale was persistent, because Songs for Dreilla – his first album with Lou Reed in decades – was just released to acclaim, reminding everyone that John Cale was still alive. Eventually, Eno, hairless and sad that U2 didn’t hire him to produce Rattle & Hum (even if he would have rejected them anyway) acquiesced.

Actually, I think the 5-year hiatus from music and 13-year hiatus from pop music and the second artist on the billing who had just received critical acclaim for his involvement on Songs for Dreilla are important – this is aggressively mediocre, and if it weren’t for any of those things and the synthesized rhythms in-line to what else was happening in 1990, I’d very much doubt that “Been There, Done That” would be Eno’s only charting song in the US (yeah, but actually). Not only are the songs not there for a song album (most of them play their hands within seconds; the rhythms are barely danceable; the melodies are all supine in that non-melodic way; “Crime in the Desert” is a re-write of “King’s Lead Hat”; the production is flat-flat-flat, etc. – compare to the first half of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts), this sounds dated, just like a lot of what else was happening in 1990. Both Robert Christgau and George Starostin, and even Pitchfork for their write-up of “Lay My Love” (one of two highlights) as one of the best songs of the 1990s, call this album out (“If [Eno’s] return to song form seems too easy, well, maybe it was”; “these songs are not that good, honestly,” respectively) but slap praise on it because two great artists showed up, I guess. The other highlight is “Spinning Away.”

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