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On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno [Paperback]

David Sheppard
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 July 2009

For some a pretentious art-school type who produces 'instrumental doodles' or 'jazz that nobody asked for'; for others a lightning rod or touchstone for directions in popular music and culture over the last four decades. Whichever, what's certain is that Brian Eno's address book is a who's who of rock and pop of the last thirty years.

From an idiosyncratic Suffolk childhood to the sharp end of the international pop charts, Eno's life has been in equal measure colourful and fascinating. A founder member of Roxy Music, he's worked with everyone from Talking Heads and U2 to Pavarotti and David Bowie and is often billed as the founding father of ambient music. He continues to release his own records, frequently appears as a cultural commentator and still produces.

ON SOME FARAWAY BEACH is the compelling biography of a fascinating character.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (9 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752884638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752884639
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 486,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This 450-page biography (written with the help of the famous piss-taster himself) fairly zips along. (OBSERVER MUSIC MONTHLY)

This exceptionally well-written biography duly celebrated [Eno's] great achievements with Roxy, Bowie, Talking Heads and his own solo work in compelling detail.' (UNCUT)

[An] honourable, authorised attempt to do justice to a mind-bogglingly restless and prolific subject. (SUNDAY TIMES)

David Sheppard's authorised biography dispels some of the myths surrounding Brian Eno and provides a compelling case for his importance as artist and thinker. (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

An accomplished and sprawling biography reflects Eno's scattershot apporach to life - all over the place but fascinating just the same. (BIG ISSUE (Scotland))

Music Book of the Fortnight 'Few enigmas are as hard to unravel as Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, but the Q contributor has done a bang-up job with this 450-page tome'. (HOT PRESS (Ireland))

David Sheppard's meticulously researched biography ...[with] the kind of footnote that make this doorstopper such an engaging read. (INDEPENDENT)

On Some Faraway Beach provides an extensive introduction to a lifetime of constructive, and very English, pottering. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Sheppard has corralled the many strands of Eno's hectic creative life into a coherent and highly readable account. On Some Faraway Beach will take some beating as a chronicle of one of popular music's few truly original practitioners. (TOTAL MUSIC MAGAZINE)

A vivid, well-observed and absorbing biography replete with relevant context and cultural references. (THE BEAT)

How do you pin down an enigma like Brian Eno? Music journalist David Sheppard makes a valiant stab at it in this lively biography. (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST)

Sheppard's writing is splendidly vivid...a book that sets new standards for rock biography (GUARDIAN)

Eno's eclectic career and esoteric personal life make for an entertaining chronicle (TIMES)

Book Description

Authorised biography of influential musician/producer/cultural commentator Brian Eno - the 'Father of Ambient Music'.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enotastic... 26 Jun 2009
Good to see that Fabers have binned that pastel hued dust jacket in favour of something a little more in tune with the subject of the book.

The book is excellent up until Eno starts working with U2, whereupon it speeds up, and we race through Eno's career to the present day. The book doesn't go into much detail about Eno's projects in this period; it reads like "Eno did x, then he did y, and then spent some time doing z". As other reviewers here have noted, this may be because the author doesn't think Eno's later work is worthy of the same attention as his earlier output.

I'd have liked a bit more coverage of Eno's work in the visual arts. This is dealt with in the book, but only superficially.

To end on a positive note, I'd add that while I've followed the Enomeister's activities fairly closely over the past 30 odd years, there were plenty of things about the great man that I learnt in this book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of a brainbox 22 Aug 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written, very entertaining, full of gossip and a nice selection of photos. I have the feeling a lot of Eno-facts have already been aired elsewhere (like the infamous meeting of Eno with Bryan Ferry on the stairs at Elton John's Christmas party soon after he left Roxy Music). The descriptions of the first four vocal solo albums are illuminating and done largely in a track by track fashion: read how that sublime album Another Green World came togther. Eno was so prolific in the late 70s/early 80s that this book is invaluable in working out when he did what. There's plenty of insight into the relationship with Talking Heads (makes a good read) and not so much on U2 (which is also good, in a way). Tina Weymouth's take on David Byrne and Eno buddying up, to the extent of wearing similar clothes and smoking the same brand of cigarettes, is a hoot. But most people have nothing but praise for Eno, though Gavin Bryars is rather loathe to ascribe any musical talent to Eno, in no small part I'll be bound due to a question of unpaid royalties for his releases on Eno's Obscure label. An interesting side of Eno that comes out from the experience of Bryars and others is Eno's ability (perhaps unconscious) to take over a project. Thus, Bryars is instrumental in forming the Portsmouth Sinfonia, but then sees their star rise due to their involvement with Eno and the press attention that his stardom in Roxy Music brought with it, to the extent where PS end up effectively seen as Eno's latest pet project! New York avant garde trumpeter Jon Hassell also sees his ideas for making afro-centric ambient music edged out and submerged into what became Byrne and Eno's "My life in the bush of ghosts". Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Demystifying Eno 20 Sep 2009
So many music biographies so often miss the point via brevity, misplaced gushing praise, or lack of authoritative support. Not so here. This is an excellent book, clocking in at around 500 pages, and written with serious intent and obviously fully researched. Perhaps most importantly, the author had access to both the subject of his book and many of those involved, adding to the quality of the finished product.

Brian Eno's early life and influences are fully developed, as is his time with Roxy Music and his early works. Every important release, be it solo material or collaborations are fully expounded upon, giving the reader genuine insight into the working process behind these works. Perhaps as importantly, each is directly tied into what went before and what is to come; a chronology of influences.

As the pages turn, Eno's output is explained in a way that for me anyway, demystified much of his works, while at the same did not lesson the "magic" contained within them. Indeed, it would be difficult to read this book without listening to the recordings being written about and hearing them again with new ears.

Unfortunately, and preventing what otherwise could have been a 5-star book, as the years roll by, the later works are given less and less pages... rushing to the end without the detailed narrative it began with. Another minor quibble is the lack of a discography, which would have served as a valuable reference point.

All that said, there is no finer book on the life and works of Brian Eno available and those interested in understanding the who, what, when and where of this most important of recording (and visual) artists, should regard this volume as a desert island selection.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like this book ....it has lots of Brian in it. 21 July 2008
By russell clarke TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Let me lay my metaphorical cards on the table ( metaphorical as well I suppose) and state that I think Brian Eno is a genius . I've said it in other reviews of his work so I see no reason not to say it here. He has produced a body of work that is staggering in it's artistic integrity , complexity and innovation and I can tend to go into gushing fan mode when talking about the domed one. Yet for all this I know absolutely sod all about him as a person so this book is , for me , a god send. Yet that doesn't necessarily mean to say that it's any good ....thankfully though I can honestly report that while On Some Faraway Beach is occasionally over written and obsequiously flattering of it's subject it is an educational and entertaining read for any one interested in this most fascinating of artists.
Everything any budding but discerning Eno-phile could want to know is covered . For instance the younger Eno,s sexual proclivity came as something as a surprise, I don,t know why , it just did. Same for his fathering a daughter at a young age ( who he largely ignored after splitting from her mother ) .The fact he was run over by a car suffering a serious head injury or that her earns £24.50 a week royalty's for "Arena" using his track "Another Green World" for the title music. The fact he is great dancer and created his own dance called "The Static".
Most astonishing is the fact that Eno cannot read or write music ( something we have in common , that and a tendency for catastrophic hair loss) and that his improvisational approach to recording rely,s more on his instinctive grasp of sound and sonic textures.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift
This was bought for my son as a gift. He rates is very highly and is thoroughly enjoying the book.
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno David Sheppard
I like this U2 producer ex-Roxy Music synthesizer man Brian Eno and David Sheppard must enjoyed writing about this got to have On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mr. I. D. Rhodes
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambient Maestro, Well-Recorded.
This is an excellent biography of a many-faceted subject. It is written with intelligence and an eloquence unusual in a biography. Read more
Published on 3 May 2012 by Steven Martin Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars Eno
Such a great read, an eye opener. For many years I have been a fan of his music, plus Talking Heads, Roxy ets. This book brings it all together. Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2010 by Alanmswin
4.0 out of 5 stars History of a Highly-Sentient Slap-Headed Chancer
Yes, a great read, with a lot of detail (often very amusing) and good contextualisation about Brian's very very productive and stimulating life after he walked out on his... Read more
Published on 15 Oct 2010 by Reimer
5.0 out of 5 stars Finaly a book about Brian Eno
David sheppard has obviously spent a lot of time and effort in researching this biography.
I found this almost impossible to put down. Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2010 by Mr. N. Hinchliffe
3.0 out of 5 stars what a plonker
Couldn't agree more with the "erstwhile" comment; the repetition is a bit of a joke. Incredibly dry prose and certainly not for those who've forgotten their school French. Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2009 by The Rookie
3.0 out of 5 stars Erstwhile Eno
Whilst a great read and an insight into the methods of the erstwhile Roxy sound distorter, it didn't tell me anything about him as a person. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2008 by F. Heiss
5.0 out of 5 stars my life in the book of ghosts
Another reviewer reckons this biog is over-reverential, but i don't get that sense at all. Sheppard is clearly a big Eno fan, but he doesn't shy away from (relatively) objective... Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2008 by Chris
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