The Importance Of Being Eno

The Importance Of Being Eno

There are a couple of songs that were game changers for me.

As a kid I saw The Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night and the idea of girls chasing me down the street had great appeal and I thought I should be in a band some day.

So every time I hear that first chord I am reminded of that moment.

The Velvet Undergroud’s Venus In Furs is another DNA song for me. I like to think it was the very first ‘rock’ song, so unlike anything that came before. It’s beauty lies in it’s discord and that has been something I have always found fascinating in music.

I never thought I’d be in a band, because I couldn’t play an instrument, so I was just an obsessive fan of all the music that came my way via our family stereogram, the radio and the TV.

I was especially keen about the music featured in overseas magazines and as a teenager had subscriptions at the local newsagent for the American magazine Creem and England’s New Musical Express (NME)

The NME in particular helped shape my musical journey and introduced me to the kind of music I still listen to today.

When in 1972 the NME started talking about this new band Roxy Music the stories and pictures interested me but it was one quote from band member Brian Eno that changed everything for me.

When asked what instrument he played he said something like ‘Oh I don’t play any instrument, I just make sounds’

Suddenly I realized there were some rules about music I hadn’t learned yet.

Eventually Roxy Music’s songs were played on New Zealand TV and I got to see and hear what all the fuss was about.

Their first single was Virginia Plain. It broke all the rules of singles at the time. A fadein, no chorus, and an abrupt ending.

But the video was ground breaking. This was pre-glam and the band was already post-glam. Fashion was as important as the music, and the music was amazing.

I was amazed by the way Bryan Ferry delivered his vocals, it was as if he couldn’t hit the notes so he invented a goat style vibrato that bent the notes into a shape he could meet with his voice, and I have shamelessly ripped off that style since I first heard it.

It’s not often a band floors you from the outset and keeps getting better. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers springs to mind as one who did the same thing for me.

Recently that first Roxy Music album was reissued in a 45th anniversary package, with all the outtakes and alternative versions that hard core fans will need boxes of tissues to fully enjoy.

But for the rest of us, there is simply Virginia Plain and that great video.

For so long it was all I ever needed to be a fan.

From the bookcase I found a couple of old NME Annuals, one from 73 and the other from 74, both had Roxy stories in them which I have included here.

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