Brian Eno and David Byrne - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts - Review
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critics' view

Following the Talking Heads albums “More Songs About Buildings And Food” (1978) and “Fear Of Music” (1979) the group's chief and his producer got together for an ambitious sample-heavy sonically-varied album of electronica, blending the dubby the trippy and the downright danceable, boldly venturing into leftfield world music territories, oblivious to walls. The unwitting “lead vocalists” are many and varied, anonymous Arabian singers, random disc jockeys, a group of Algerians in prayer, even a ranting exorcist. If one thing links them all it's passion, a quite deliberate and clever ploy by the creators. Eno was a fan of Holger Czukay who had been leading the way in such matters since the 1960s, and the former Can man's recent “Movies” LP is thought by some to have been a background inspiration for at least some stages in the development of “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts”. Originally, the album was meant to serve as an appetizer for the next Talking Heads LP, but things never quite went to plan. In the end up, it was recorded over the space of a year between August '79 and October '80, having been held up and suspended at various points due to sampling clearance legalities. The collaborative effort finally saw release in February, 1981, during which time they'd pressed on with another whole Talking Heads album, “Remain In Light” (1980). I often wonder, when did Eno sleep in the late 70s early 80s? It was worth all the wait though, these two working brilliantly and boldly together to deliver a wondrous, atmospheric experience for the listener, like some kinda super-cool mixtape. It's a work of great variety and imagination which soars above any of the aforementioned Talking Heads releases, with no rock star virtuosos to dull the senses.

Side one (with vocal sources): “America Is Waiting” (Ray Taliaferro of KGO NEWSTALK AM 810, San Francisco, April 1980); “Mea Culpa” (Inflamed caller and smooth politician replying, both unidentified. Radio call-in show, New York, July 1979); “Regiment” (Dunya Yunis, Lebanese mountain singer, from 'The Human Voice in the World of Islam' on Tangent Records TGS-131); “Help Me Somebody” (Reverend Paul Morton, broadcast sermon, New Orleans, June 1980); “The Jezebel Spirit” (Unidentified exorcist, New York, September 1980).

Side two (with vocal sources): “Qu’ran” (Algerian Muslims chanting the Qur'an, from 'The Human Voice in the World of Islam' on Tangent Records TGS-131); “Moonlight In Glory” (The Moving Star Hall Singers, Sea Island, Georgia. From 'The Moving Star Hall Singers' on Folkways FS-3841, produced by Guy Carawan); “The Carrier” (Dunya Yunis, Lebanese mountain singer, from 'The Human Voice in the World of Islam' on Tangent Records TGS-131); “A Secret Life” (Samira Tewfik 'Hobak Mor', Lebanese popular singer. From 'Les Plus Grandes Artistes du Monde Arabe' on EMI); “Come With Us” (Unidentified radio evangelist, San Francisco, April 1980); “Mountain Of Needles” (Instrumental).

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