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Brian Eno - Eno & Cale: Wrong Way Up CD (album) cover


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

2.80 | 50 ratings

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3 stars This is truly an underrated album. It is also very unexpected. When you hear of Brian Eno and John Cale doing an album together, you would expect maybe ambience or at least very experimental music. You would be mistaken. This album has some of the most accessible music either artist has been involved in. But, believe me, it does not make it a bad album. Yes it is lacking somewhat in progressiveness, but the faster songs are so cheery and catchy that you have to sing along. And the harmonies, mostly based on heavy layering, are excellent to the "nth" degree. That is what I love about it most is the harmonies, sort of like a more modern Moody Blues type harmony, but better.

The first track is sung by Eno, but I would imagine it involves auto tune, because I have never heard him sing like this. The violin and keyboards are exiting and catchy. The same feeling melds into the next track "One World", even more upbeat with Eno and Cale both sharing vocals with lots of harmony. "In the Backroom" is a slower tempo and more of what you would expect with the vocals more subdued and no harmonies, just singing by Cale. The rhythm is consistent throughout, but there are some interesting things going on in the instrumentation. "Empty Frame" has a nice mid tempo swing feeling to it. Eno has lead vocals on this and there is some brass involved in the background and there are some harmonies here, but not as choir like as before. The guitar towards the middle is nice, but it's mixed a little deep. Vocals again seem too perfect for Eno, but it still sounds great.

"Cordoba" is a very laid back slow song lead by Cale. This one is more ambient and slightly experimental sounding, but it is not typical enough to be considered pop. It is a lot darker than anything that has come previously, so probably more what you would have expected from these two. Very sparse and the voice is solo with limited harmonics and some distortion in the orchestration towards the end giving it a unsettling feeling. "Spinning Away" is more of a nice, funky feeling with that feeling being provided by a strumming guitar while the keyboards are smooth creating a nice contrast. Eno has lead on this one and the beautifully layered and uplifting harmonics are back. The stings are back on this one too, and give this song great atmosphere. "Footsteps" is a mid-tempo song sung by Cale and is very 80s sounding especially with the synth melodies going on here. This one would have fit well on any Wang Chung album, in other words, I don't care for it as much.

Cale leads again on the next song "Been There, Done That". This one is upbeat and was released as a single and actually had some success. It is decent, but I would have picked one of the other previous upbeat songs for the single. But it has memorable lyrics that are easy to sing along with. "Crime in the Desert" has a nice piano hook that plays though the song, upbeat once again and a return to the layered harmonics that are so appealing. The synths are reminiscent of a more upbeat Vangelis tune. This one is the 3rd in a row lead by Cale. The last track on the original release is "The River" and is lead by Eno. This on has an annoying computerized drum and keyboard loop that changes chords with the vocals. It is more subdued like "Cordoba", but not as experimental. Eno's voice has an echo to it, giving it a slightly mysterious sound. The chorus is nice with the vocals, but it can remind you of sitting around a campfire singing and once you get that visual, it gets a little corny. Since the original had only 10 tracks, by this time it was starting to wear out it's welcome, so it ended at the perfect place.

The remastered version released in 2005 had 2 bonus tracks, but 1 of those tracks was different in the UK and the US. "Grandfather's House" was the UK bonus track. It is a slow ambient song, but the electric piano or vibe is a little annoying and reminds you of the terrible late 70s, early 80s Chicago albums. However, the lyrics are nice. "You Don't Miss Your Water" was the track available in both the UK and US versions. This one is better, but it is still slow with no percussion. It is driven with guitar this time, so it's not tacky like the previous one. It also has the layered harmonics. "Palanquin" was the bonus track in the US that replaced "Grandfather's House". Out of the two different bonus tracks, "Palanquin" is better in that it uses acoustic piano instead of electric, so it's not so dated sounding. It is a beautiful, atmospheric track, all instrumental, and with a new age feel, but still nice.

Overall, I really love this album and I did the first time I heard it. I do admit that it tends to wear itself out towards the end, but the bonus tracks, at least on the US reissue, do breathe life back into the album at the end. I know there isn't much there that is considered progressive, but the harmonics push this far and above any typical pop music out there. I consider it an excellent addition to my collection, but not to my prog music collection. So I have to settle for a "Good" rating, but it's pushing the 4 star rating.

TCat | 3/5 |


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