Quite soon after his ouster/resignation from the ranks of Roxy Music in 1973, Brian Eno was mulling over what his next move would be. His first instinct was to hold a press conference to tell his side of the story, but he soon decided he’d just look poorly and opted not to say much. Instead the restlessly creative Eno was already making plans to make plans. A lot of plans.
In July of that year he told the NME’s Nick Kent: “My main idea is to drag together a bunch of bizarre people, who will probably all hate each other, give them some strange instrument to play and get people to pay to watch them make fools of themselves.”
Then there was the idea for a backing group called Luana and the Lizard Girls. Kent wrote:
One of the members of this perverse combo will be Eno’s current female correspondent, Peggy Lee La Neir Soiree, a dusky beauty with intriguing abilities as a dancer and a strong sense of rhythm. “She sings bass lines to me when we embrace. She goes ‘Dum-dum-dah dah-dum-dum’. Incredible. She’s never played bass in her life but I know she’d be incredible at it.” There may well be two bass-players “There’s another girl called Phyllis who’s incredibly sexy and a great dancer. I’m thinking of having a girl drummer, as it happens. Also I’ve found this dancer - she’s such a tart. I saw her dancing at the Speakeasy one night and it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen - really it was. She stopped the whole place - no one would dare go on the floor simply because they were frightened of getting in the way of her flailing arms. She did this great thing of dancing like a lunatic for 12 seconds, then stopping and leaning against a wall smoking a cigarette. Then she’d suddenly jump out and start dancing again. I was fascinated by the discontinuous aspect of it all.”
The admittedly sex and pornography-obsessed musician also found inspiration from one of his more inventive S/M fantasies:
“You see, the dancers in the Lizard Girls could also be wired up to my new instrument, the ‘Electric Larynx’ which I humbly consider to be a major innovation of sorts. It had its origins in, uh, bondage - it was actually an excuse to legitimise bondage by convincing the. bondee that it was actually a musical instrument they were wearing rather than just a form of restraint. It’s a series of microphones built into a choker fed through a complex series of electronic devices to produce from the sound of human voice the high pitch of an electric guitar while still possessing the flexibility of the ‘vox humana’. The player - or the captive as we prefer to know her - is wired up from the back of her neck directly into the synthesizer. The sound, with more than one person, is fantastic, like a constant guitar solo.”
Alas Luana and the Lizard Girls were not to be. For Here Come the Warm Jets, Eno brought in a cast of some of the most musically adept and far out sidemen his avant garde reputation could attract including King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and John Wetton; Hawkwind drummer Simon King; Bill MacCormick, bass player of Robert Wyatt’s Matching Mole; Paul Rudolph of Pink Fairies; guitarist Chris Spedding and all the members of Roxy Music save for Bryan Ferry.
But these guys all had day jobs with their own groups and were merely moonlighting on Eno’s project. Ultimately it was The Winkies a pub rock band with glam rock outfits who were snagged by Eno to be his backing band for the Here Come the Warm Jets UK tour. That trek commenced in February of 1974 and went on for just five shows before Eno was hospitalized with a collapsed lung. He never really performed live much at all after this and there are precious few mementos of any sort of live promotion done for this album. A few, but not many.
Like this poster:
You’re wondering who Rod Crisp is, aren’t you?
There is one live recording of one of the Eno/Winkies shows, from Kings Hall in Derby on February 13th, 1974, but it is an extremely lo-fi audience recording. You can grab an mp3 of that show at the Doom and Gloom from the Tomb Tumblr and Shards of Beauty has a lossless version of the same show.
On February 19th, 1974 Eno and The Winkies were taped for a John Peel session performing “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” and a cover version of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” “Baby’s on Fire” and “Totalled” (a rocky precursor to “I’ll Come Running”) were recorded for Peel’s BBC Radio show on February 26th. The session aired on March 5th, 1974. The Holy Grail of Eno fandom is Eno, a 24-minute documentary directed by Alfons Sinniger that includes Eno and The Winkies playing four songs in the studio, presumably at these very sessions. The film has so far not turned up on YouTube or been bootlegged to the best of my knowledge, although there is a tantalizing 30 seconds from it that appeared in the 80s Roxy Music home video release Total Recall. It’s not “lost” it just hasn’t escaped yet.
After he recovered, Eno mimed his first solo single, “Seven Deadly Finns” on Dutch television’s TopPop program in April:
Eno performed at Island Records infamous June 1, 1974 concert with fellow cult figures Nico, Kevin Ayers and John Cale. His songs are first, “Driving Me Backwards” and then “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch”:
Eno gave this interview to a late night American disc jockey in Detroit on July 21st. One of the topics is how much he hated touring, which comes up twice. He mentions that the recording of his second album, the as-yet untitled Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) would commence in London soon after this interview. At the end he’s explaining the meaning of “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” but sadly it gets cut off:
Still 1974, Eno and Snatch’s Judy Nylon made this video for Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)‘s “China My China”: