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Last of the "Early Years" re-issues
on 3 June 2004
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.