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My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

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My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
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Audio CD, April 11, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Now approaching it's 25th anniversary, Brian Eno and David Byrne's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts appears downright visionary. With it's 'found' vocals, cut-and-paste arrangements, funked-up rhythms and embrace of influences from all around the globe, the duo's controversial work anticipated the creative cross-pollination an technological innovation of contemporary electronic dance music, world music, hip hop and alternative rock. You can hear echoes of My Life in The Bush Of Ghosts in the anthems Moby built around vintage samples, in the outrageously exotic beats of Missy Elliott and Timbaland, in the middle eastern-accented chill-out tracks of Thievery Corporation or Bjork's otherworldly soundscapes.

Released in 1981, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is a collaboration between ambient pioneer Brian Eno and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. On Ghosts, the two strong-willed musicians manage to come to a meeting of the minds, blending Byrne's herky-jerky funk with Eno's atmospheric sound sculpting. More than anything, this is a large album, intent on pushing itself to the front of the listener's consciousness. Abundant percussion (everything from booming tribal drums to eerie electronics) reverberates in the background while Byrne and Eno toss all manner of found sounds, field recordings, and radio broadcasts into the mix. What results is a groundbreaking album that introduced a generation to the dazzling possibilities offered by electronic recording techniques. Highlights include "The Jezebel Spirit," an electro-funk workout that uses a recording of an exorcism as its focal point, and "Very, Very Hungry," a mysteriously ethereal display of electronic percussion and large-scale sonic architecture. --S. Duda

1. America Is Waiting
2. Mea Culpa
3. Regiment
4. Help Me Somebody
5. The Jezebel Spirit
6. Very, Very Hungry
7. Moonlight in Glory
8. The Carrier
9. A Secret Life
10. Come with Us
11. Mountain of Needles
12. Pitch to Voltage
13. Two Against Three
14. Vocal Outtakes
15. New Feet
16. Defiant
17. Number 8 Mix
18. Solo Guitar with Tin Foil

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 11, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000E5N634
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,331 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Kevin J. O'Conner on April 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Reissues don't get much better than this.

First, the sound quality is much improved over the first CD reissue, warmer and more balanced, with slightly better definition.

Second, three of the tracks are actually longer than on the original release. "Mea culpa" is almost a minute and a half longer. "Regiment" is about 15 seconds longer, thanks to an extended intro. "The carrier" is 43 seconds longer, including an extra vocal in the middle that, upon comparison, was clearly excised from the original version. (In addition, "Moonlight in glory" takes a bit longer to fade out, though it does not otherwise seem to differ from the original.)

Third, the rather thick booklet actually has liner notes, with essays by David Byrne and Brian Eno (though theirs seem to be mostly David Byrne) and David Toop. You don't see liner notes much anymore, so this is a real treat.

Fourth, the new cover art on the slipcase perfectly illustrates the nature of the contents of the package. The image is actually that of the original album cover, only updated using current technology.

Fifth, according to the official web site created for this reissue, "David Byrne has personally overseen the tracklisting and remastering". I have seen too many artist catalogs remastered and reissued without the participation of the artists themselves, and the results are usually lacking in some respect. This is not the case here.

Finally, the video for "Mea culpa" is included. And at a decent resolution, too.

I have only two real complaints about this remastered edition. One is the omission of the track "Qu'ran", though I realize that particular choice was made back in the late eighties, when the first UK edition of the CD was released.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on May 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Not since the Beatles reissues has a remastering provided such a dramatic improvement. Although it doesn't say so, I'd suspect engineer Greg Calbi (who mastered the original album) went back to the original 24-track masters, meticulously cleaned up each individual track, then recombined them digitally for maximum clarity. These don't sound like no safety masters! Vocals, synth lines, percussion and bass all stand out in fresh relief. Comparing this issue to the 1990 Sire CD (or even the 1980 LP) is like the Claritin ad, lifting a haze you didn't even know was there.

The track layout follows the 1981 re-issue, which replaced the track "Qu'ran" with the single B-side "Very Very Hungry" after the Islamic Council of Great Britain complained. Interesting that 25 years later (in these days of Danish cartoons) we still can't afford to offend.

The seven bonus tracks are mostly familiar. "Pitch to Voltage" is called "On The Road to Zagora" on the widely-circulated bootleg of outtakes "Ghosts," "Two Against Three" is "The Friends of Amos Tutola" and "Number 8 Mix" is "Les Hommes Ne Le Sauront Jamais." "Defiant" is a radically remixed "Qu'ran" with a different vocal. "New Feet" showed up on Eno's 1980 KPFA interview (as untitled). "Vocal Outtakes" is 0:36 of exactly that and "Solo Guitar with Tin Foil" sounds like Byrne testing a long delay. Still these tracks make a nice adjunct, and needless to say, sound WAY better than on the bootleg.

The only tracks missing are the real "Qu'ran" and "Into The Spirit Womb" ("The Jezebel Spirit" with the original Kathryn Kuhlman vocals, which her estate still refuses to license.)

I haven't mentioned the music yet. Somehow, if you're reading this, I doubt I need to.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By David J. Brown on June 20, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Albums like this one are what makes me grit my teeth when people talk about how vapid 1980's music was. If only they knew how much they missed that was brewing below the surface (The early Butthole Surfers and Big Black, for example).

Anyway, I have loved this album since the day it was released on vinyl. Along with Holger Czuckay, Gregory Whitehead, Derek Bailey, Giorgi Ligetti and other experimental audio artists of lesser or greater extremes, this collaboration between Eno and Byrne came out with little fanfare and seemed to be overlooked for years afterwards (and in Gregory Whitehead's case...still). Back then the internet wasn't around to make it so easy for us to find such music and the music industry didn't see a lot of profit in it, so they gave us Boy George instead. Bush of Ghosts was one of those albums you would get wide-eyed to discover in someone else's record collection. It was a shocker to find someone else who had ever heard of it, let alone actually listened to it.

This album is a great combination of intelligence mixed with soul. I can't tell how many converts it has won over through me alone. No matter how your exploration of music led you to this page in Amazon I hope you'll buy this CD and see where it takes you next. Hopefully that journey will have nothing to do with Billy Idol......or American Idol for that matter.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By John W. Evans on April 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I got my copy of this CD the day it was released, as I had been waiting for this reissue for years. My 17-year-old daughter is very music-savvy. We were out driving in the car, and I played "Mea Culpa" and "Regimen" for her.

I asked her "When do you think this was recorded?" She told me "Probably sometime in the last ten years, maybe in the late 1990's." When I told her that David Byrne and Brian Eno recorded "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" in 1979-80 without the use of computers or digital equipment, she was stunned!

A lot of music that is now 25 years old has not stood the test of time; it sounds dated, cliched, dull. Not the music on this disc! It sounds as fresh, as scary, as exciting to me as it did when it was first released. The explosive percussion, the shimmering, chattering keyboards, the strange yet perfect "found" vocals... it's all here, in all its innovative glory. Six bonus tracks have been added, and although I feel they don't make the original album better, they add some insights into the music. Extensive liner notes serve to put this work into perspective as the true landmark that it is.

A masterpiece 25 years ago, it is still a masterpiece today and I suspect it still will be considered such 25 years from now. Run, don't walk, to wherever this disc is sold, and BUY IT. You will not be disappointed.
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This is a censored version
Thank you for noting that. I'm a huge fan of the original album, and while I will probably buy this for the extra tracks, I am also disappointed that "Qu'ran" is missing. I recommend that anyone interested purchase a used copy with this track on it.
Apr 1, 2006 by Michael Hall |  See all 13 posts
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