Listening in Depth to Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Taking Tiger Mountain.

Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

This album is all about sound, pure sound itself if you will: the sound of the instruments, their textures, and the textures of the soundscape Eno has created for them.

With the subtle harmonics of Eno’s treated sounds captured onto vinyl intact, the magic of the experience far exceeds just another batch of catchy songs with clever arrangements. It truly becomes an immersive experience; sounds you’ve never heard in quite that way draw you into their world, each sound more interesting than the next.

Only these British originals sound like they are made from fresh master tapes on rich, sweet tubey-magical, super high resolution cutting equipment.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

(Which, by the way, is BRILLIANT from the opening guitars of Burning Airlines to the never-ending chirping crickets of The Great Pretender. I mean that literally: on these early British pressings the run-out groove has the sound of the crickets embedded in it so that the crickets chirp until you pick up the arm, much in the same way that Sgt. Pepper has sound in the run-out groove at the end of A Day In The Life.)

Burning Airlines Give You So Much More

Pure Pop for Now People. Listen to all those multi-layered harmonies! They’re sweet as honey, and only the best British copies get them to sound that way. You can make out practically every voice. This is what we mean by Midrange Magic.

Back in Judy’s Jungle

This track has a BIG BASS DRUM that will rattle the walls and threaten to bring your house crashing to the ground if you are not careful with the volume. Love that whistling too — genius!

The Fat Lady of Limbourg

This song is so good I found the lyrics on the web and have included them for your edification below. Once you fit the words to the melody you will no doubt be as convinced as I am as to the brilliance of Eno’s songwriting skills.

Mother Whale Eyeless

The high pitched chorus about the man without his raincoat in the body of the whale can be a bit much on the copies that are not cut cleanly. Those kinds of high frequencies at loud levels are hard to cut and hard for your arm/cart to track.

The Great Pretender

Pure Eno magic to finish out the side on a high point; it doesn’t get much better than this! Listen to those sustained lower piano notes — on the best copies they are deep and powerful and keep resonating seemingly forever. It’s one of the most interesting sounds on an album that’s full of NOTHING BUT interesting sounds.

Side Two

Note that on most copies side two is cut a db or two lower than side one. Please increase your volume level accordingly when playing side two.

Third Uncle

A real rocker, the first one on the album. The boys do a great job with this one on the 801 Live album as well.

Put a Straw Under Baby 
The True Wheel

Probably my favorite track on side two. The chorus of mostly female voices should be amazingly sweet and delicate; wall to wall too.

China My China 
Taking Tiger Mountain

The Fat Lady of Limbourg

Well I rang up Pantucci
spoke to Lucia
Gave them all
they needed to know

If affairs are proceeding
as we’re expecting
Soon enough
the weak spots will show

I assume you understand that we have options on your time
And will ditch you in the harbour if we must
But if it all works out nicely,
you’ll get the bonus you deserve
From doctors we trust.

The Fat Lady of Limbourgh
Looked at the samples that we sent
And furrowed her brow
You would never believe that
She’d tasted Royalty and Fame
If you saw her now

But her sense of taste is such that she’ll distinguish with her tongue
The subtleties a spectrograph would miss
And announce her decision
while demanding her reward
A jelly fish kiss.

Now we checked out this duck quack
Who laid a big egg oh so black
it shone just like gold.
And the kids from the city
finding it pretty
Took it home
and there it was sold

It was changing hands for weeks
Till someone left it by their fire
And it melted to a puddle on the floor
For it was only a candle
a Roman scandal
Oh oh
and now it’s a pool.

That’s what we’re paid for
That’s what we’re paid for
That’s what we’re paid for

Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below.

Transparency is key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.

Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here. The most important advice on the site can be found under the heading The Four Pillars of Success.

Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.

Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.

AMG Review

Eno’s richly layered arrangements juxtapose very different treated sounds, yet they blend and flow together perfectly, hinting at the directions his work would soon take with the seamless sound paintings of Another Green World. Although not quite as enthusiastic as Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain is made accessible through Eno’s mastery of pop song structure, a form he would soon transcend and largely discard.

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