Steve Kilbey looks at keyboardists in his third week as Artist In Residence.
For week three of Steve Kilbey‘s month as Artist In Residence, the frontman of The Church is looking at keyboard players.
It’s not the most glamourous position in a band, but Kilbey makes some inspired choices about players who have made a significant impact with the way they think about the instrument. Here are three songs from the past that Kilbey believes have interesting and captivating keyboard parts.
Brian Eno – ‘Spirits Drifting’
Brian Eno is a really interesting character. Of course you all know about him producing U2 and all that kind of thing. You see him now and he’s this kind of egghead guy raving on and on about scientific things you don’t really understand.
But a long time ago he was the resident lunatic in a band called Roxy Music until Brian Ferry kicked him out after two albums because he was garnering too much attention with the way he played the synthesiser and his peacock feathered outfits. He had enough makeup on to make a panda laugh.
Eno leaves Roxy Music and makes a couple of transition albums and then suddenly, in 1975 comes up with something different, Another Green World. He followed it up with another album called Before and After Science where he completely rewrote the rule book about instrumental music.
He was also the inventor of ambient music, discovered when he was in hospital with a collapsed lung. A friend brought in a record player and a record. The friend set up the record player but only one speaker was working and the record wasn’t playing very loudly. At first Eno was frustrated that he couldn’t hear this record. Then suddenly he realises that the little bit he can hear of this classical music is merging perfectly with the rain outside, the traffic on the street, the hospital equipment purring and bleeping.
It occurs to Eno that he’s going to create this genre of music called ambient music that is not meant to be listened to, but is meant to be listened along with a whole lot of other things in the background.
So he’s a very, very important keyboard player.
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – ‘Je t’aime… Moi Non Plus’
My parents came back from England in 1970 and they had that single with them. Three things grabbed my attention: one was the throbbing bass sound, played with the pick. Of course the other one was Jane Birkin having those sort of proto-orgasms – I’d never heard anything like that in my life. The other thing was that incredible groovy organ sound.
Nico – ‘The End’
Nico is on a keyboard called a harmonium. It’s like a pump organ, she pumps away with her feet and it provides air and she plays the organ. In the background we have John Cale and Brian Eno making various noises, like things smashing and things falling apart. Nico does a particularly Teutonic, ‘Twilight of the Gods’ version of Jim Morrison’s ‘The End’.