Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

2. Brian EnoTaking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

Absolutely unbelievable record. It kicked my ass when I first heard it. I bought his first album Here Come The Warm Jets and that was amazing too. Anything to do with Roxy Music was going to freak me out, because Roxy Music completely floored me when I was a kid. I remember buying the first Roxy Music [album] and going home and just going "what IS this?!" So this guy from Roxy Music was putting out these solo albums. By the time he got to Taking Tiger Mountain – which is his second one – he had just set up this world, this Eno world, that at that point I didn’t realise that you could be quaint, weird, British and cool all at the same time. I didn’t know it was possible. I thought that either he was a fop or some throwback to the sixties, but no, this was honestly strange music from a very, very strange man. Sing-songy; fairytale-like, but with these leads! This assemblage of musicians, you know? Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music, and Robert Fripp are on that record. I would listen to those songs over and over again wondering what this guy was saying! I mean, ‘The Fat Lady of Limbourg’, talking about a lady who laid an egg and the egg goes on this journey and then the egg splits open and black stuff comes out. What is this?? I never did figure it out. But, you know something, I don’t care! It was just so brilliantly done. There wasn’t even the slightest hint from him that he was doing this for any other reason than to tell this story that was blowing up in his head. The way he would tell it to a child, that’s what it sounds like. Eno. The storyteller. The music maker. The soundmaker.

Yes, I do have a copy of the Oblique Strategies. I even tried to do a record with it. It didn’t work. I guess I’m too much of a control freak. I would say, "You know what? I don’t even want to SEE those cards right now! I know what I want to do." I’m not as cool as Eno, but in my own way I learnt from him probably more than any other musician because I remember reading a Rolling Stone article with him as a kid before I was a musician where he said, "I use mistakes". He said, "If something happens and it sounds good, but I didn’t mean it to happen, I’ll use it and I’ll say, ‘This is mine. This is my mistake and now it’s my purpose’." And I remember that to this day. You can’t control everything. You just have to let it happen and trust your instincts. That’s what I like about Eno. You can just tell by listening to anything he does, that he’s instinctual over anything.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Johnny Marr, Amanda Palmer
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