Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Brian Eno, "King's Lead Hat" (1977)


Honestly I never figured out until I saw it the other day in Wikipedia that the anagram of the title is "Talking Heads." Gratification. Relief. At long last. Why didn't anybody ever tell me?! Robert Christgau's review of Before and After Science alluded to it, and I don't know why I didn't get it. I'm usually pretty good at anagrams. I guess I got stuck on "death"—I thought it had to include "death." But no, just some greeting from afar to a musical relationship that was about to take off like rockets. "King's Lead Hat" was always my favorite song on the album. Much like "Third Uncle" on Taking Tiger Mountain, my other favorite album by Eno, it's about as hard as Eno was ever going to rock, in the context of albums that were themselves as rocking as he was ever going to get ... more or less. But he really pours everything into this, with a wall of sound affect that swarms like all 17 musicians listed on the credits could have chipped in. It fades up quickly to full-scorch groove and continues from there, with Eno yelping along with a nursery rhyme kinda melody on top of the stone groove, and it breaks wide open at the chorus, goes a little robo-loopy at the bridge, pirouettes and drops to a knee. It's fun, it's ecstatic, and there's a feeling of discovery about it. I see that it was released as the only single from the album and never did anything, even in the UK. So I will have to acknowledge that in many ways Eno's entire '70s catalog (heck, the whole career) is on the order of a cult level of operations. I want to sign up to be a priest in this cult.