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4.7 out of 5 stars26
4.7 out of 5 stars
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The last of the current batch of Original Master re-issues and his last song based album for some time. After this it was ambient and systems based music. Eno was now a different person to that which left Roxy Music. Gone were the feathers, make-up and flamboyance. Eno was now Brian Eno.
Though "Before and After Science" is hugely overshadowed by the originality and cultural importance of "Another Green World", it is an album I personally prefer. From the metallic funk of "No One Receiving" to the simple childlike joy of "Spider and I". Personal favourites are the hazy, languid "Julie With...." where Eno transports us to a floating raft, silently drifting across a calm ocean with the hot sun beating down. In fact water is a recurring theme throughout. The single "King's Lead Hat" was originally to be performed by Talking Heads, which the title is an anagram of, but that didn't materialise. Still the song is sharp, incisive and punky and culminates in one of the best instrumental solos ever.
Though this was to be his last song based album for some time, Eno was now entering his most influential phase as ambient guru, sought after producer, Bowie collaborator, systems theorist and installation artist. His mark on the development of modern pop music is widespread and these early albums clearly demonstrate what an original Brian Eno is.
A couple of comments about these re-issues. They are minimally packaged in digipaks which are housed in transparent plastic slip cases. No notes, essays or lyrics, just the original recording credits. Although I do miss the beautiful Peter Schmidt prints which were included with the original album and were integral to it. It would have been nice to see them reproduced somehow.
These are not remasters as such, but new transfers taken from the original master tapes using the new Direct Stream Digital (DSD) format. This is state of the art as regards mastering onto compact disc. They have been transferred by Simon Heyworth who is one of the best in the business. He has made statements about the remastering of these recordings. Why change something that was done right originally! Eno was happy with the original mastering so what is needed is just the best transfer onto compact disc that is currently feasible. Whereas the original CD's sounded flat and thin, these transfers are much livelier and offer a fuller, more detailed sound.
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I always think 'Before and After Science' is overlooked in the canon of Eno's pre-ambient works. You can see the cogs working on this record as the first half moves between great catchy pop/roack songs with a touch of thrash thrown in with the anagramatic salute to Talking Heads in 'Kings Lead Hat' and the odd off-funk of 'Kurts Rejoinder'. The worlds of 'Another Green World' and 'Taking Tiger Mountain' meet on this record.
The second side (as was) is where the first signs of the early 80's conversion to ambience can be heard. Still within recognisable song frames but pushing at the boundary of atmosphere versus structure. 'Here He Comes' and 'Julie With..' are gorgeous tracks.
This is an interesting record. I think it shows more of Eno's coming conversion than 'Another Green World'. Well worth purchasing.
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on 11 June 2009
I picked up this up on vinyl in Barnardo's when I was 13, thinking I'd bought something ambient. Music for Airports was in the process of fundamentally changing my life and this had me scratching my head. I used it to piss off my younger brother who found the rhythm section and backward-effect vocals of the opening track plain disturbing. Backwater sounded like a Butlins singalong at the time. It didn't stop the kids in school handing me C-90s for a copy.

20 odd years on and as it shuffles it's way onto the ipod now and again, the inventiveness, diversity and boundarylessness is still overwhelming. Paul Morley described this as one of the best rock albums ever made and he was bang on. I never ever tire of it. Perhaps I should burn a copy for my brother, see what he makes of it now.
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on 25 October 2009
I first bought the LP of this album back in 1978, my friends and I went on holiday on the Norfolk Broads and I played this album every day for two weeks, the calm of the broads was a perfect setting for 'By this River', 'Julie with..' & 'Hollow Lands' and the rest of the album complimented those tracks. I think that 'By this River' is possibly one of the most relaxing 'modern' songs ever and I rate it along side Erik Satie's 'Gymnopedies No.1' for its calming influence. Enjoy this album, it is a great introduction to his, soon to follow, ambient albums and don't forget his work with Harold BuddThe PearlThe Pavilion of Dreams.
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on 4 July 2013
The title of my review refers to the fact that this is the first album where 'he' uses his (almost) full name - Brian Eno as the other three went simply as Eno. It also marks a slight change of approach and the whole thing feels more melodic with some excellent rhythms, just listen to Backwater and Kurt's Rejoinder and you'll get the idea. That's not to say it is better than the previous three, just more listenable to new dabblers? To this day I consider these 4 albums (the other 3 being Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and Another Green World) are essential listening but I tended to lose interest after this, partly due to the constant and in my opinion misplaced 'ambient' tag. Never fully understood and probably never will, and on reading some of the other reviewers comments I'm not so sure they do either? Sometimes it is not necessary to analyse things too deeply. Just sit back and enjoy a true genius at work, works for me and it probably will for you as well. And finally you WILL learn something now - Track 5 'Kings Lead Hat' is an anagram of Talking Heads. I assume it is a surreal reference to that group?
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on 22 September 2012
For those of you that actually remember far enough back - I originally bought this on vinyl - it came with four watercolour repros. One thing that is striking is how different the two sides were.

B&AS starts off with 'No One Receiving' - the drumming is by Phil Collins and is absolutely brilliant. I'd say ground-breaking but fans of Eno know what a profound and possibly unsung influence he's been on a huge range of genres from dance/electronica through to classical.
'Backwater' shows Eno can write memorable melodies. 'kurt'd Rejoiner' returns to more amazing drumming & some damn cool guitar. 'Energy Fools the Magician' (what a title!) quietens thing down & is a little more introspective where the guitar dominates - purely instrumental. King's Lead Hat ("..the killer cycles, the killer hurts..") has Eno almost proclaiming rather than merely singing.

So much for Eno's extraversion - from 'Here He Comes', things get a lot more lyrical or even introspective with Eno's voice interjecting from time to time so as to not get in the way! 'Julie With...' has a quiet dream-like quality with some clever decending voices. 'By This River' has Eno's voice accompanied by piano and his influential sound "treatments". 'Through Hollow Lands' (another instrumental) shows how long Eno's association with Harold Budd has been because this song is dedicated to him. 'Spider And I' closes, "Spider and I sit watching the Sky...".

Eno's take on lyrics reminds me of Edward Lear - understanding is the booby prize! Before And After Science is one of my all-time classic albums. Having played it dozens and dozens of time over thirty years proves (to me, at least) that some music transends time completely We've all dug out an old favourite from time to time to take it off pretty quickly for being very dated - this won't haven here! I don't have the remastered version but the sound quality on the original CD is better than average.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2004
The word genius is bandied about with wild abandon with regards to all the arts, but is especially prevalent in music. Very few people and especially musicians are geniuses. When it comes to Brian Eno however, there can be no argument. Brian Eno is a genius.
I was lucky enough to discover Brian Eno early in my music collecting days although I actually was drawn to his ambient work first. Gob smacked by his numerous EG Editions albums I investigated his "normal albums "and bought them all in a mad rush. And although all are superb, Before and After Science is the best, Enos penchant for exotic instrumentation and unique textures and rhythms allied to a forensic ear for melody was never better demonstrated than on this album.
"Kurts Rejoinder" and "No One Receiving" are fractured and funky with belching bass lines rubbing up against skewed keyboards. "Backwater" is a cerebral pop monolith. It's bizarre tongue twisting lyrical witticisms ("There was a Senator from Ecuador who came upon a meteor that crashed on a hill in the south of Peru. / and was found by a Conquistador who took to the Emperor and he passed on to a Turkish Guru") set to an infectious stomping piano and Metropolis soundtrack keyboards. Instrumental "Energy Fools the Magician" delights in bass that bubbles like a tar pit, splintered shards of keyboard noise over more luxuriant swathes of keyboard sound. "Kings Lead Hat" is all brilliantine guitars, pop from a tangent with a punk sneer. Enos hurried vocals, almost tripping over themselves in a rush to be free.
The second half of the album is more sedate, awash (This is apt given the predominance water has in these songs) with gentle lapping waves of sound and moderate smooth vocals. The perfect marriage of Enos song writing brilliance tempered to his love of sound and atmosphere. "Here he comes", "Julie With", "By this River" are all wonderful examples of this "Spider and I" in contrast sounds like it was recorded in a Cathedral, its sound huge and expansive. It ends the album on a slightly portentous note.
I'd recommend owning every album Eno has a hand in really but if you were to choose just one this is the one I would go for. And maybe "Discreet Music" from his ambient series but that's another story as they say.
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on 26 July 2000
When it was ripe he wrapped it up nice and fine and slipped it unnoticed into the record shops. Sinewy basslines throb. Keyboards cut and thrust. Lyrics bounce around delightfully. When you find yourself singing "Oh, the King's lead hat is a martyr to desire, it will come, it will come, it will surely come!" just for the pure fun of it, then you'll know a new freedom! Believe me! Superlative weird pop and atmospheric seas wash over you. Roxy Music are just weaklings on a distant beach. This is Eno's kingdom and you don't have to do anything here, just listen, smile, drift... This is not ambient minimalism, its pop music at its very finest.
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on 20 September 2001
This album was the point were Eno leaves songs behind for a long time to concentrate on the ambient music which is reflected in "Engergy Fools The Magician" and "Through Hollow Lands". Even so songs like "By This River" and "Spider and I" also indicate the direction Eno is heading to and beautiful anthem/lulabies they are too. "Kings Lead Hat" (an anagram of Talking Heads) and "Backwater" point to where he was coming from. A superb album that charts the development of one of the most important beings in music.
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on 30 August 2011
nice sound enhances the original somehow softer in tone
perhaps needed some liner notes otherwise no qualms about quality and value for money
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