You Oughta Know: David Byrne and Brian Eno, MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS
You know David Byrne – he was the lead singer of Talking Heads and has since carved out a nice solo career for himself – and you also know Brian Eno, thanks to his work as a member of Roxy Music and a solo artist as well as his many efforts as a producer. But do you know the album that these guys did together back in 1981? If not, you oughta.
Eno, as you’re probably already aware, produced three albums for Talking Heads over the years – MORE SONGS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND FOOD, FEAR OF MUSIC, and REMAIN IN LIGHT – while in turn forging a solid working relationship with the members of the band. He and Byrne, however, were particularly copacetic together, and between those last two Talking Heads production gigs, the twosome entered the studio and collaborated on a musical endeavor which Eno once described in a Sounds interview as a “vision of a psychedelic Africa.”
It’s definitely a unique LP, one which utilized sampling long before most other recording artists had embraced it as a concept by taking recordings from other sources and utilizing them as vocals on the music that Eno and Byrne had created. Given that it was such uncharted territory, there was a delay in the album’s release while every possible effort was made to secure the rights to utilize those other vocal tracks. It took a bit of doing, since you’re talking about nailing down usage of voices from radio call-in shows, but they pulled it off, and the results were remarkable.
Granted, MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS might best be described as an acquired taste, one which critics generally tend to love more than typical music fan, but when Rolling Stone described the LP as “an undeniably awesome feat of tape editing and rhythmic ingenuity,” they were not wrong. Whether you walk away loving it or not, it’s definitely an album that you should hear.
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