Doug Hilsinger

Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

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"I like it very, very much," insist Brian Eno's liner notes, but one cannot help but wonder whether acolytes of Eno himself will share his enthusiasm, all the more so since this 30th anniversary remake was issued almost simultaneously with remastered versions of Eno's own original version.

Nothing less than a track-by-track recasting of Eno's landmark second album, Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy is part-tribute, part-oneupmanship, as Caroleen Beatty and Doug Hilsinger utterly eschew the original album's reliance on keyboards in favor of a harder-rocking sheen, but otherwise leave both the arrangements and the feel of the songs untouched. Hilsinger himself admits that his only motive for making the album was, "I just wanted to play them myself, and hear Caroleen's voice on 'em."

And, so long as one adheres to that same criteria, the venture is a phenomenal success. Indeed, comparisons with the original should never be entertained -- an album so perfect as Eno's original can never be improved upon. But Bauhaus proved that at least one track, the mega-frenzied "Third Uncle," could be restaged without undue distress, and the duo here pull off similar stunts with a lurchingly soulful "Fat Lady of Limbourg," a romping "Put a Straw Under Baby," and, again, "Third Uncle," fed through chunking guitars, funereal vocals, and the same rhythm that Iggy Pop perceived when he came to write "Lust for Life." In other words, this may not be the album that Eno made. But it is a looking glass reflecting back every record that it prompted other people to concoct and, as such, is possibly the most gloriously impertinent record from 2004.

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