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On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  299 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
For some an art-school type who produces 'instrumental doodles' or 'jazz that nobody asked for'; for others a lightning rod or touchstone for directions in popular music & culture over the last three decades. Whichever, what's certain is that Brian Eno's address book is a who's who of rock & pop of the last 30 years.
Hardcover, 471 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Orion
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Jun 19, 2009 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fine, as bios go. There's some great stuff early on, and up until 1980 or so, the book is fairly compelling. But after that, perhaps the author's appetite dies with mine, for the whole U2 experience is dismissed within a dozen or so pages. This is fine by me, as I have little interest in U2, but it does serve to give the narrative a bottom-heavy feel, with almost every week in 1974 (for example) being covered before a sprint through two decades' worth of projects, the 80s and 90s, with many left ...more
Jun 04, 2010 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
this book was too well researched and not well edited-- I really liked it at first but then it became a little bit of a slog and I skimmed through some of the technological (nonmusical) noise towards the end. the writer was working well too hard with the crafty clutter sentences and insecure word choices, smug self satisfaction notwithstanding here and there. Sheesh, what's the zappa line about Rock Criticism? Although this guy really is worried about the commentariat, I hope he doesn't anymore ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: music, biography
Brian Eno is a fascinating guy. I loved learning about his quiet, solitary childhood and his wacky art school days. He's the most collaborative person I've come across and I loved reading about his continuous experiments. I wanted to know more about the idea/ contemplative side of Eno, so I thought the book got clogged up with the accounts of all his collaborations and lost the creative spark of that drove them. Reading this book has sent me on an extended Talking Heads/ Eno kick. One neat side ...more
Carla Remy
Dec 24, 2013 Carla Remy rated it it was amazing
This was a long, dense book, and it took me a long time to read. It was thorough, to say the least. Of course, it's covering the career of a man which spans the last 40 or 45 years and is all very documented. Why would you leave anything out? It had to be dense and detailed, and the writer David Sheppard did a great job. Honestly I sort of skimmed after Fear Of Music though. The 70s had been overwhelming. Overwhelmingly good and interesting, definitely. I love early Roxy Music, love Love Eno's ...more
Sep 25, 2009 Eoghan rated it it was ok
More or less acceptable overview of Eno's career, although it could have stopped in the early eighties for all that he's done of interest since then. The innumerable errors, howlers and typos did little to dispel the impression that the writer wanted to come across as more intellectual than he is - I was previously unaware that LaMonte Young had written a companion piece to his X For Henry Flynt dedicated to porn magnate Larry Flynt, for instance, and it takes a certain deep-rooted ignorance to ...more
Jon Lathrop
Mar 06, 2009 Jon Lathrop rated it it was ok
While I was fascinated by the information about Eno's eclectic creativity, I was appalled: this book contains some of the worst sentences ever written in the English language! Especially in the early chapters set in Britain, the overly-Rococo word choice was painful. My other objection was that Eno seemed to have contributed little new to the book. I would recommend it as a great collection of disparate material mostly already available elsewhere. It was a very, very thoughtful gift from my ...more
Nicholas Why
Nov 26, 2016 Nicholas Why rated it it was amazing
Brian Eno has touched & influenced music for so long now that we take it for granted. Just like Ambient Music. A life of a man who's intelligent & always interesting. I am especially fascinated by his Oblique Strategies card decks, his invention of Ambient Music, his non-musicianship & his defining work with U2. Today, he is still at the forefront of everything that we consciously experience. How much poorer would our lives be without the likes of Eno?
Nov 25, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-and-music
For a month I immersed myself into the life and times of Brian Eno, one of my favorite artists. David Sheppard admirably does justice to his subject, which is a formidable task. I appreciate the author’s sense of humor, bringing Eno out at his playful best, even when applying high art concepts to his work. Indeed, in the quotes drawn from the extensive list of Eno interviews, he often comes off as a high-concept punk: regarding the idea for a new band called the “Plastic Eno Band,” he tells his ...more
Blog on Books
Mar 29, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the course of observing the rock based recordings of the late 20th Century, two names keep surfacing when it comes to exemplary album production. Brian Eno and Rick Rubin. Between the two of them, they have been responsible for some of the biggest and best selling albums of the rock era. Eno with his work on bands like U2, Coldplay and the Talking Heads, and Rubin with everyone from the Beastie Boys to the Red Hot Chili Peppers; Tom Petty to Metallica.
Yet, as much as they are icons of rock p
Aug 20, 2014 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A moderately interesting book about a very interesting man. It's less of a biography than a hagiography - the author is clearly smitten with Eno, which isn't such a bad thing. However, it prevents him from taking an unbiased look at Eno, or from treating his works as anything less than the sheer genius of a holy man. (There's a John Cale anecdote about Eno threatening him with chopsticks, one of the rare bits that shows him in a less-than-saintly light.)

I'm not sure about the target audience is
Glen Hirshberg
Jul 08, 2014 Glen Hirshberg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
One night, I ran into Chris Eckman, [the Walkabouts'] singer/guitarist/co-leader. He was so wired, he seemed to have sprung another few inches on his already towering, reedy frame. "Brian Eno just played on our record," he told me....

**(See my blog for the full story.)**

That story isn't in David Sheppard's superb and fair-minded On Some Faraway Beach. But there are a thousand others like it. Brian lulling and nagging Robert Fripp into the most majestic,emotionally engaged solos of his long, com
I've just finished reading an ace biography of Brian Eno (On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno - David Sheppard) which was brilliant. not so much in terms of how it was written (it was fairly done) rather for the wealth of inspiration it could be mined for, especially as it documents his post-Roxy Music output.

My kids have been introduced to Devo (both Eno-produced and otherwise) and won't listen to anything else.

Then i've begun listening to Glass' Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack agai
Malini Sridharan
Feb 04, 2009 Malini Sridharan rated it liked it
I was a little more into the times than the life. The chapters about what Eno did in art school sounded a lot like things my friends would be into. Eno's interactions with other artists I care about were really fun to read about. The parts about Talking Heads were a lot like that show "classic albums" where the engineer for some classic rock band goes into the studio they recorded in and slides knobs around to show you that they used a zither or whatever. I listened to Remain in Light the day ...more
Dec 14, 2010 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very entertaining, fast-moving book that was a little more well-written than the typical rock bio. It also demystified my vision of Eno as some androgynous, ascetic, wise monk, kind of like the Mr. Spock or Kwai Chang Caine of pop music. It also made me pull out my old Roxy Music and Brian Eno records, although I didn't really gain any additional appreciation of the music, except for the song "Bogus Man," which for some reason I'd never really noticed much before but now realize is ...more
Nov 19, 2015 Jorg rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I am not a fan of biographies in general, especially of living people. That said, Eno is one of my favourite musicians and one of the smartest and most interesting artists working today--so the book was not entirely useless. :)

Seriously, this is a good description, light on analysis and concentrating primarily on the 1970s and early 1980s of his career (without completely neglecting the rest). I only wish there was more musical analysis and discussion there, but I guess it is not that kind of a
May 16, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
There are few people that are as interestingly diverse as Brian Eno. One thing that most biographies fail do document are influences, but David Sheppard has done a fine job of matching the impact of each to Eno's work. It is a wonderful jumping off point to different musicians, artists, authors, etc. Due to the fact that Brian Eno's work has created an exponential amount of work, and effect upon others, the book has to economize on each as you get into the 80's and onward. Overall a wonderful ...more
W.R. German
Mar 13, 2010 W.R. German rated it really liked it
Fascinating read of Brian Eno's early years.Great detail, great anecdotes or early Roxy Music, solo Eno (the first 4), Talking Heads, Bowie's 'Berlin trilogy' and the Eno/Byrne collaboration "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts".

My one criticism is that after Eno stops working with The Talking Heads, the tome becomes a mere overview--in particular, Eno's co-production work with U2 gets very short shrift. I would love to have A LOT more anecdotes of how their album "Achtung Baby!" got rescued from the
Todd Grimson
Oct 21, 2011 Todd Grimson rated it really liked it
Brian Eno had his fingers in so many musical pies of the 1970s and 80s, beginning as an untrained synthesizer-player in Roxy Music, then putting out albums of his own, both rock and then "ambient" -- a genre he more or less invented, replacing muzak with "Music for Airports" and so on -- moving on to influentially collaborate with David Bowie and Talking Heads... and this book takes us through his development, even if his actual personality remains fairly elusive. But this book reminds one of ...more
Feb 08, 2009 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could have used some more details on what Eno's been up to for the last 20 years -- the last third of the book feels like a whirlwind compared to how much time is spent on the Roxy Music years and the first major forays into producing for other artists (Bowie, Talking Heads). But this is a good, solid biography of a musical impresario I always wanted to know more about, without the annoying authorial intrusions that mar some celeb bios.
Paul Childs
Aug 31, 2016 Paul Childs rated it really liked it
Excellent, well researched, look at Eno's life and work. As others have noted, a little odd in that the first 350 pages, up until about the mid 1980's, is incredibly detailed, almost day by day in some cases. Then the last 25 years (the book ends about 2010) rushes by in about 100 pages. A good look at at arguably the most influential period of his work; the Bowie Berlin Trilogy and the Talking Heads/David Byrne work from 78-81.

Really for the serious Eno-phile.
Dennis Willingham
Nov 02, 2009 Dennis Willingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
Great biographgy of Eno - it doesn't fall into the usual trap of only being about the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll of most rock bios. Gives good detail on what he did, how he did it, what influenced him and who he influenced. Enjoyed it from start to finish. Only complaint, slight margins made it harder to read than it should had to be.
Jul 02, 2013 Trevor rated it really liked it
Eno is a very interesting character and has had his fingers in so many pies that by following his history you also follow a curious history of a number of musical genres through the latter half of the previous century. I discovered a lot of intriguing music through reading this book and Eno's unique perspective fostered in me a spirit of creativity and experimentation.
Kjle Risch
Jun 16, 2009 Kjle Risch is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Why are pop musician biographers unable to write on their subject without slagging every other artist they come across? Do they not realize it is possible that there is more than one legitimate thing going on at any given time?
Also, why is a quick summary of the biographee's life and a few sentences regarding the author's assumed level of research considered a book review?
Bc Beats
Nov 30, 2015 Bc Beats rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, very well written, although after a while it just turns into a rather lengthy list... the man has done so much, its no doubt hard to account for it all in an interesting fashion, however David Sheppard has done a remarkable job here, and this is truly a comprehensive account of Eno's life, methods and philosophy..
Jun 09, 2015 Henry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't know his dad was a postie, always thought he was posher. Nice to know one of our public intellectuals came from ordinary stock.
Didn't really read it all, just the Roxy, Bowie, Talking, U2 bits
Oct 27, 2009 Lucy added it
The style is a little dry but as Eno has worked with so many amazing artists it's like a history of modern, alternative music. Believe he published diaries not long ago but suspect they might be even heavier going.
It's OK. Sheppard draws on some new interview material (albeit not with Eno). Other than that, there's fair bit of recycled material and it's rather uneven: very good and detailed on Eno's work up to about '82 and then it speeds up and gets rather superficial.
May 04, 2014 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well researched and fairly fascinating account of a very enigmatic musician, but I think it could've used another run-through by a judicious editor. It slogged at times and seemed to get repetitive. Still, it made me trawl through his discography again, never a bad thing!
Apr 27, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lost my train of thought when U2 got involved. Actually, when the Talking Heads became a reality; that's when I started to quit caring. But before that, I found it "fascinating".
Sep 18, 2010 Landry rated it really liked it
An interesting overview of the life of Brian Eno, a man who has never had a real job yet has influenced countless artists and musicians.
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