Thursday, August 14, 2008

FROM THE VINYL RACK ... "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" by David Byrne and Brian Eno

Released in 1981 (recorded 1979-80), this album was re-released on CD in the mid-90s and then a digitially re-mastered and expanded version was released on CD and digitally in 2006. But to me, this album is for listening to on vinyl. It is one of the records which for the life of me I cannot remember where or when I bought it (I've got a nagging feeling it might have been a large high street retailer like HMV ...) but it feels like I've always had a copy.

I started buying Talking Heads albums seriously and devotedly in around 82-83, so I guess I must have bought this about the same time. This was one of those records where I would say "you've GOT to listen to this" before playing someone a track. And I'd either get the raised eyebrows/sympathetic smile/pained expression or the "what the hell is this/this is brilliant" response. I went through a period that lasted several years where The Jezebel Spirit was an essential component of any compilation tape.

Well to read more about the extraordinary making of the record or how pioneering and influential it has been, read on to the next paragraph. But really what you should do is listen to the music. The record is an astonishing collision of East and West, of African funk and dub with electronic experimentation, with a magpie approach to sampled voices. It is always refreshing and fresh and inspiring to listen to.

So if you want the critical analysis: David Byrne talks about the making of the record here as part of the for site set up for the remaster release (here) with essays by David Toop and Paul Morley and plenty of other material.

And earlier this year there was a "will-they-won't-they" couple of months when it was suggested that Byrne and Eno were working together and might even tour together. And possibly even playing MLITBOG material?! Well here's the official announcement:

David Byrne and Brian Eno have paired up for their first record together as co-writers since the highly influential and critically acclaimed 1981 release My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Due out August 18, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is the culmination of a year's worth of writing, recording, and travel between New York and London. The album will be self-released and made available as a stream and digital download for purchase exclusively through

Everything That Happens... was conceptualized during a visit to Brian Eno's studio after the two reconnected upon Nonesuch Records' re-release of Bush of Ghosts. Byrne explains, "I recall Brian mentioning that he had a lot of largely instrumental tracks he'd accumulated, and since, in his words, he 'hates writing words,' I suggested I have a go at writing some words, and tunes over a few of them, and we see what happens." Thus the two began exchanging vocal and instrumental tracks, and the transatlantic collaboration began.Everything That Happens... is less a collage than the duo's previous effort of some 27 years ago and more a collection of songs... this latest recording almost exclusively features Byrne's lyrics and voice alongside Eno's various electronic tracks. "When we started this work, we started to think we were making something like electronic gospel: a music where singing was the central event, but whose sonic landscapes were not the type normally associated with that way of singing," says Eno. "This thought tapped into my long love affair with gospel music, which, curiously, was inadvertently initiated by David and Talking Heads."

With a Byrne tour, David Byrne, Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno scheduled in support of the release of Everything That Happens from the fall of `08 through early `09 in the U.S., Australasia in early '09, and Europe in March 09, the focus will be on these new songs as well as Byrne's previous collaborations with Eno including some Talking Heads albums (many of which were produced by Eno). "The live shows will maybe try to draw a line linking this new material with what we did 30 years ago," explains Byrne, "a little bit anyway."

That "a little bit anyway" is telling. On the first listen to the single track available free from the ETHWHT site, this is a more straightforward collaboration, more akin to late-period Talking Heads that MLITBOG. Maybe live something special might happen ...?


My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts [BUY]

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