Brian Eno Creates a List of His 13 Favorite Records: From Gospel to Afrobeat, Shoegaze to Bulgarian Folk

vu by vu

For most of us, mak­ing a list of our favorite albums involves no small amount of nos­tal­gia. We remem­ber high­lights from high school and col­lege: songs on con­stant rota­tion after breakups and dur­ing sum­mers of bliss. More so than any oth­er media we con­sume, music—from clas­si­cal to the most com­mer­cial pop—feels deeply per­son­al.

But there are many oth­er ways to relate to music. Bri­an Eno’s jour­ney through the world of record­ed sound, for exam­ple, more resem­bles that of a 19th cen­tu­ry explor­er. He grav­i­tates toward the cul­tur­al­ly exot­ic, makes stu­dious obser­va­tions, and advances hypothe­ses and the­o­ries. In read­ing through an inter­view he gave to The Qui­etus for their “baker’s dozen” series—in which they ask famous artists to name their top 13 albums—one theme emerges in the way Eno talks about music: dis­cov­ery.

And as Eno reminds us in his com­men­tary on his first pick—a gospel record by Rev­erend Maceo Woods and The Chris­t­ian Taber­na­cle Choir—one pre­cur­sor to dis­cov­ery is curios­i­ty, unbound­ed by prej­u­dice or pre­con­cep­tion. It’s an approach that has enabled him to cre­ate some of the most con­sis­tent­ly inter­est­ing records decade after decade (hear 150 Eno tracks here), and to remain rel­e­vant long after most of his ’70s peers have dis­ap­peared.

Eno first heard, or mis­heard, the gospel group on U.S. radio. To his ears, the refrain “sur­ren­der to His will” sound­ed like “sur­ren­der to the wheel,” a cryp­tic phrase that pro­voked all sorts of asso­ci­a­tions. But even after he learned the real lyric, he was hooked on the group’s sound, and want­ed to know more, though he him­self is entire­ly non-reli­gious.

“Why am I so moved by a music based on some­thing that I just don’t believe in?,” Eno asked him­self. His response ranges into philo­soph­i­cal ter­ri­to­ry, then ends on an unex­pect­ed­ly upbeat note. If it sur­pris­es you that one of Eno’s favorite albums is an obscure record by an ama­teur gospel group, take a look at the rest of his picks. We’d expect the Vel­vet Under­ground to appear—giv­en his famous com­ment about their mas­sive influ­ence—and they do. The rest is a col­lec­tion of wild cards. See the eclec­tic list below and stop by The Qui­etus to read Eno’s thought­ful, can­did com­men­tary on each album.


The Dynam­ic Rev­erend Maceo Woods and The Chris­t­ian Taber­na­cle Choir in Con­cert, by Rev­erend Maceo Woods and The Chris­t­ian Taber­na­cle Choir

Farid El Atra­che, by Farid El Atra­che

Umut, by Arif Sag

“Go Where I Send Thee,” The Gold­en Gate Quar­tet (sin­gle)

Fresh, by Sly and the Fam­i­ly Stone

Plan­ta­tion Lul­la­bies, Me’Shell Nde­geO­cel­lo

The Vel­vet Under­ground, by The Vel­vet Under­ground

Ear­ly Works, by Steve Reich

Afro­disi­ac, by Fela Ran­some-Kuti & The Africa ‘70

Glid­er, by My Bloody Valen­tine

Heart­land, by Owen Pal­lett

Grande Liturgie Ortho­doxe Slave, by Chœur Bul­gare Sve­toslav Obreten­ov

Court and Spark, by Joni Mitchell

via The Qui­etus

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie Lists His 25 Favorite LPs in His Record Col­lec­tion: Stream Most of Them Free Online

Tom Waits Makes a List of His Top 20 Favorite Albums of All Time

Kurt Cobain Lists His 50 Favorite Albums: Fea­tures LPs by David Bowie, Pub­lic Ene­my & More

Hear 150 Tracks High­light­ing Bri­an Eno’s Career as a Musi­cian, Com­pos­er & Pro­duc­er & Stream His 2015 John Peel Lec­ture

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.