Every Record I Own: Brian Eno and John Cale – Wrong Way Up
In late 2021 I went through a John Cale phase, spurred on by his song Dying on the Vine. I went and listened to most of his work post his Velvet Underground years. It’s an incredibly strong catalogue but the song that stuck out to me the most in the playlist I made was Spinning Away by him and Brian Eno. It has become one of my favourite songs of all time. If you listen to one thing from this blog, this is a good thing to pick.
(This also led me down a Brian Eno phase who I’ve never really listened to before, except for Music for Airports via my old flatmate Simon. Hi Simon! Brian Eno will come up here again in the future.)
I went from listening to Spinning Away on repeat to listening to this entire album on repeat. This was all happening around the end of 2021 when my girlfriend Elly and I went on our first road trip and holiday together, so she ended up listening to this album a lot too.
Then in February, Elly gave me this record for my birthday! What a great gift. What a great girlfriend.
I love this album so much. Even on paper two music weirdos who have always pulled whoever they’re playing with in experimental directions and further away from pop, making a straight up pop album together.
It’s an incredibly balanced album instrumentally. It’s full of strings and horns and synths and driven forward by drum machine or bloopy synths. But everything is restrained and it’s rare for any one part to take over. Just adding enough for the songs. The exception is the guitar in songs like Spinning Away and with the exception of the guitar which breaks out front and centre. The guitar is maybe my favourite bit of this album, which I think was played by a session musician because it’s not like anything I’ve heard from either of them before. (checked the liner notes, played by Robert Ahwai. I looked at his discogs page and he played on dozens of other released including George Michael’s album Faith)
Their voices complement each other so well. Neither has a voice that is particularly suited to pop music. They sing confidently within their abilities, which means quite a limited range and very simple melodies, but these are very effective and catchy nonetheless. I must admit that I find their voices difficult to distinguish a lot of the time.
Often when I get super into an album for a few weeks it ends up falling out of rotation and out of my life. It had already done so by the time Elly bought it for me. But now I get to relive that summer and that road trip and remember my birthday and my great girlfriend every time I listen to it. xxx
Fave songs: Spinning Away, One Thing, Lay My Love, Been There Done That.