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Baker's Dozen

Free, Open Spaces: Brian Eno's Favourite Records
William Doyle , April 13th, 2016 10:00

Before he releases his new album The Ship, the composer, producer and artist gives William Doyle a tour of some of his favourite records and tracks, reflecting on how they've shaped his own approach to music


Sly And The Family Stone – Fresh
I didn't know much about Sly and I'd only heard the two hits that he'd had, which were 'Everyday People', which I loved because of that bass line which goes all the way through without changing once, and 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)', and I loved them but I didn't think that much of them. Then one evening in 1971 I was round the house of this bunch of London musos who I'd kind of fallen in with and they were all sort of jazz-influenced people. They used to smoke a lot of grass. I didn't, but the room was full of enough stuff to probably affect me. They were all talking about this album and how it set the scene for something totally new, and I was interested because they were the very serious people who were into Coltrane and Charlie Parker, yet this was a pop record. It's so sketchy, the whole thing, it hardly holds together. It's like little flicks of paint. Instead of an organised composition, it's just people throwing in these little touches and somehow it coheres. It's like the first time I saw a Jackson Pollock or something.

Another interesting thing about this is I had just started experimenting with rhythm boxes, which were considered completely beyond the pale by most musicians. They had like six rhythms on: bossa nova, Latin, rock & roll... something like that, and they had these terrible sounds [mimics rhythm box] but I really liked them and I was starting to write things over them, and everyone was asking me, "Well, you'll replace that, won't you?" and I said, "Actually, I don't think I will." Then I heard this (first track, 'In Time'), where one is playing alongside Andy Newmark, one of the great drummers of all time. But there's nothing really holding it together except the rhythm box.