My Life In the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno & David Byrne

My Life In the Bush of Ghosts [Brian Eno & David Byrne] Album Songs

NoSong TitleTime
1 3:37
2 4:57
3 4:11
4 4:19
5 4:53
6 3:20
7 4:29
8 4:19
9 2:31
10 2:43
11 2:34
12 2:38
13 1:55
14 0:36
15 2:26
16 3:41
17 3:29
18 2:56
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My Life In the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno & David Byrne Album Reviews

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- Worth buying again...5 star

And again and again and again. I can't buy it anymore so I buy it for other people. Just buy it. Now...

- Loved it then, loved it now5 star

Thirty-four years later, still an amazing audio experience.

- Still On my all time top 10 album list.5 star

On my all time top 10 album list.

- Landmark5 star

This is one of the key works for both Eno and Byrne and a landmark collection of extremely influential music. Seriously, this is music you can revisit for the rest of your life. Personally, I’m quite happy to have this extended version with the extra tracks—in this case, I think more is better, even if the original track lineup was unimpeachable. The sound quality of this remaster seems preferable to me, too.

- A great, and great sounding album still today5 star

What a collaboration, this is a fantastic album songs and sound recordings.

- If Negativland hit the mainstream...5 star would sound exactly like this. The fact that Negativland is mentioned nowhere on this page suprises me. Since 1980, Negativland has been manipulating family recordings, field recordings and commercials and arranging them into themed compositions, something they continue to do today. If you like this album, then you need to check them out.

- Listen to where it all started5 star

This album changed the musical world, and yes, very few non-musicians know about it, much like VU's first, but similarly, once you've heard it, you'll never think about music the same way again. Calling it groundbreaking or influential would both be understatements. But beware: you'll likely find the music of your favorite electronica/ambient/house/3rd world artist paling in comparison. I'm talking about the original album, with "Qu'ran" - which is not in this collection thanks to political correctness. Everything after "Mountains of Needles" is outtakes, I would assume. Find the original pressing, vinyl preferably.

- Fantastic5 star

This is LCD Soundsystem 24 years before LCD Soundsystem.

- Recommended by Simon Glickman5 star


- A Perennial Electronic Classic5 star

At the time it was released, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (titled after Amos Tutuola’s 1954 novel) was hailed as both a critical masterpiece and a definitive record for experimental electronica. Its success was a result of the collaborative efforts of Brian Eno and David Byrne - whom each lent themselves to the album’s frequency of modulations, sonic harmonies, and vocal mixes. To create the array of sounds found on the album, Byrne and Eno decided to use ‘regular appliances and objects’ as simulacra for drum beats, guitar strings, and other percussion instruments. An example of these found objects was a cardboard box and frying pan, which were used as replacements for the bass drum and snare drum respectively. These were techniques pioneered most prominently by Pierre Schaefer and Pierre Henry of the Musique Concrete school1 and are a fully exploited and expanded on in Ghosts. Thats not to say that traditional instruments are ignored - Eno himself is quite adept with both the guitar and the drums, and implements this talent quite frequently on the record. For the vocal samples, Eno and Byrne’s compulsions led them toward a found vocal strategy. To do this they sampled vocals from radio sermons, Arabic singers, radio jockeys, and even an exorcist (for the song the Jezebel Spirit). It is further worth noting the processing involved, as the technology was far and away from the clean splicing featured in modern programs. To sample the radio vocals they used an old-fashioned cassette player, which produced recordings of dubious quality. In a later memoir, Byrne notes that these lo-fi recordings at times actually made hi-fidelity sound overrated, as the resonance of the lo-fi quality generated a feeling that was both immediate and prescient (almost like a megaphone). As for the mixing itself, the musicians had to resort to a process of trial and error through analogue technique (as digital sequencing had not yet come into being) - leaving a lot of the combinatory aspects up to chance and good fortune. In his retrospective essay, Byrne highlights the influence that African pop music had on his own musical stylings, as well as the inspiration dub’s ‘extended mixes’ had on Eno. Dub was one of the first mediums to test the ‘electronic’ aspects of reggae and draw attention away from the vocals. As the two musicians fantasized about making a record, they became enthralled with the idea of an ‘imaginary culture’. They envisioned that a listener of their record would feel like they were experiencing a hereto undiscovered land. The producers themselves would sublimate into anonymity - as this was key to true immersion. With this ‘historical narrative’ out of the way, lets move onto the record itself. The album opens with the quirky vocals of radio host Ray Taliaferro from his show in 1980 in America is Waiting. The piece has a reflective, almost satirical quality to it - mixing a whimsical drum beat and guitar sequence with the musings of an embittered radio host (discussing violations of free will and the like). Talk-show samples are not an irregularity on the album, as they are featured in ‘Mea Culpa’ and ‘Come With Us’. ‘The Jezebel Spirit’ is an interesting track, for it juxtaposes the eery, religious orations of an exorcist with a jubilant, almost uplifting jazz track. It’s an interesting follow-up to ‘Help Me Somebody,’ a song Pitchfork’s Chris Dahlen notes, pulls off the difficult task of turning a St. Orleans preacher into an R&B singer. ‘The Carrier’ is a song clearly inspired by the Middle East and Africa - it pulls together the vocals of an Arabic singer with a percussion of ‘found sounds’ that immediately envelope the listener into the desert of an exotic land. This trend is continued in ‘A Secret Life’ which opens with a siren, violin strings, and the vocal stylings of an Egyptian pop singer. The atonal arrangement of the track and modulation of the singer’s voice, help warp the piece into something both foreign and familiar. The influences of both Musique Concrete and Elektronische music are most apparent in ‘Come with Us’, which pools together an array of food tin drums, radio frequencies and amplifiers, tape loops, echo, delay and cars honking. Somehow all of these sounds come together in a musical tapestry that exerts confusion, urgency as well as an invitation - into something new; something uncertain. ‘Mountain of Needles’ seems very reminiscent of some of Greek musician Xenakis’ work - especially its ability to create a ‘meditative’ soundscape by amplifying the recording of needles hitting the ground and water. Following the album’s success and recognition, it was re-released in 2006 with several bonus tracks. The album I’m reviewing is the original release, so I will not be commenting on those new additions - which have received mixed commentary. As a whole, My Life in the Bushes succeeds in creating the world Eno and Byrne envisioned. Their uncanny ability to mix familiar sounds and samples, and distort them in multiple has the effect of creating a new world of busy intersections, exotic deserts, futuristic tambours and guitarist, and comical, almost ‘amusing’ religious observation. Their work has clearly influenced the work of future technosonics artists - may it be Professor Burtner’s M.I.C.E. or Stanford’s STork and certainly will hold a ‘perennial position’ in the history of electronica and ambient music. 5 stars and one of my favorites.

- punctuated equilibrium5 star

After an extended period of relatively unpopular experimental musics, this album moved the music minions in a new direction. At the time it was considered a radical change, but surely It is seminal for so much music that followed, and continues to resonate in about every musical genre since. I wonder if we would have evolved a Pink Floyd, a Negative Land, Lauri Anderson, or the explosion of musicians that experimented with sound and technology with out this album. I am no music historian or musicologist but I can easily trace a line from what is now common, main stream and popular in experimental electronica, electronica, Dub, drum and base, trance, dance, lounge, trip hop, rock, jazz and even some contemporary classical musics back to this album. Alright I know I am probably over the top and lost most readers. But this is truly a classic worthy of all the praise and should be in the collection of every music student. I bought my first vinyl in 83, and added two more copies since. I knew it was important from the first listen.

- Unique!!!!5 star

As a want-to-be-musician, I pulled this one back out all the time for inventiveness. I once again sent it to our drummer. Even without the interesting found vocals, it is so strong musically. I still remember the tme I put it on for a friend and all of a sudden he yelled out that I had to take if off because he thought he was riding on a camel for a few minutes and then he needed to re-group. That's strong when music can take you somewhere. Even my 12 year old son gets this one. He totally digs The Jezebel Spirit. Don't think you are going to be getting a Talking Heads album or another pop product like the new Byrne-Eno. Unique !!!!!!

- Wow.5 star

This is simply a genuine masterpiece. It completely blows my mind that they were doing this while electronic music hardly even existed, this album is simply stunning. not only is it revolutionairy, but also supreme quality. a five star album for sure.

- Best5 star

One of the best albums ever to be released.

- This album is a classic ground breaking album5 star

Everything done on this album was so far ahead of its time. It just amazes me that it was recorded in 1981. It truly shows the genius of David Bryne and Brian Eno.

- Unbelievable Album5 star

Always been a fan of Talking Heads, not so much with Dave's solo work but this album with him and Brian Eno truely amazes me.

- Was ground breaking mentioned!!!!!!5 star

I first heard Jezebel Spirit in a NYC disco called the Paradise Garage in the early 80's, while the song played, the lights dimmed and the dance floor packed the movie of the Exorcist was shown on a large screen. As the patrons worked up a sweat while viewing the movie and dancing it appeared to be some satanic ritual going on. I thought this was hilarious my friend and I laughed like crazy I said David and Brian are geniuses.

- One of my favorite albums since college...5 star

But whatever happened to Koran? It was the best track of the lot? Was removing it some arbitrary gesture of political correctness? Hardly progressive at all...

- A Breath of the Freshest of Air5 star

I am no music "expert," but this album simply amazes me. I can't tell you why it is brilliant in the kind of jargon some can, but I can hear sheer beauty ever time I listen to it. So fresh. So...exhilirating. I am convinced that Brian Eno and David Byrne are geniuses.

- My Life In the Bush of Ghosts5 star

I love this album! I was hooked the first time. I am an abstract artist, and always listen to music as I paint and create. This Eno/Byrne masterpiece is in my "Maximum Rotation"!

- Hopefully Will Haunt Me Forever5 star

My favorite pairing years ahead of anyone...Will forever linger..A MUST!!!


This particular re-release (with added music) was just another demonstration of the genius of Brian Eno. Most who know of Brian’s previous twenty years of ground breaking work are aware that he had fathered most of the music genre’s we all take for granted or give credit to the wrong musicians. Let us thank him for his work and the gifts we all enjoy. Some examples come to mind such a punk, ambient, industrial. Many musicians have to tip their hats to Brian such as the Talking Heads and U2. Both of these bands were still trying to blow up and when they teamed with Brian and he produced there best albums. David Bryne was one lucky man to team up with Brian and this collaboration was a defining moment for the 80’s and established David as a musician and passionate artist. Is this album important? Maybe. A definite one to have in a modern music collection? Yes.

- all-purpose excellence5 star

This record is the perfect: sex record drug record driving record rainy day record and meditation record. Too bad this version doesn't have "Qu'ran" on it. The extras don't nearly make up for the loss. And why did they change the cover art? It was boss.

- unique and essential5 star

one of the best and most influential records ever. only wish that they had included all the original tracks taht were later censored ...

- For me, this was life changing5 star

I was 16 when this came out. I really enjoyed 'Remain in Light' by the Talking Heads and had read that this was born out of those sessions. From the first blips and blurps of America Is Waiting, I had my head twisted wide open to what music could and should be. If I ever get the chance to meet Mr. Eno or Mr. Byrne, I'd like to thank them for this. I learned at a young age that good music can come in complex flavors.

- Perfection!5 star

For nearly 20 years now this has remained my all time favourite CD for its sheer artistic brilliance. My admitted bias is that I adore Talking Heads and Brian Eno, and I must admit that the combination of David Byrne and Brian Eno seems to always yield a FAR greater result than the sum of their parts. Byrne was brilliant on the Catherine Wheel and Brian Eno on Apollo, but when these two work together they are pure magic - especially when Talking Heads and its arguably 5th member Brian Eno work together (check out Remain in Light in particular for such an example). A 3rd World eclectic mix of African beats, Middle Eastern vocals, chants & surmons, and even an actual exorcism woven into a musical mosiac that can only be described as ambient/spiritual/trance/funk. It ranges from the political to evangelical to rhythmatic to etherial to pure ambient (Eno's forte). My personal favourite has always been the Carrier - especially while driving on a cool night - very transcendant. Yes, even with this newly remastered, repackaged CD with extended versions and lost tracks, the beautiful track Qu'ran is still omitted due to the sampling of Algerian Muslims chanting from the very same. According to muslim friends of mine it is apparently considered by Islam to be sacrilege to combine the words of the Holy Book to music, which I am certain the artists, like me, never realised at the time - and, in fact, were actually attempting to accomplish the opposite... an inclusion and admiration of the Islamic voice within the worldwide musical mosaic of spiritualism. This appears to be unique to Islam, hince the error, and so it seems the artists quickly recalled and omitted it after realising. Nevertheless, the album still stands out as sheer artistic cosmopolitan perfection.

- If only it was Byrne and Eno instead of Bush and Blair5 star

When I first heard this album back in '81, It changed my life. Music had never possessed such a prophetic urgency. America is still waiting and one of the original tracks is no longer available because of religious fundamentalism. Buy this album, It's so high you can't get over it, It's so low you can't get under it, and it's so wide you can't get around it.

- Wrap your Brains around this one5 star

Every time I hear this album, I'm blown away by how contemporary it sounds. These guys were/are geniuses. You may hear bits and pieces that others have sampled from this album since. Very complex sampling and beat mixing throughout, and keep in mind that this was done before the Macintosh computer was even invented! Brian and David were literally splicing magnetic tape into "loops" ("looping") and playing them back and forth over mag heads to get their samples and effects. Pioneers. If you consider yourself at all a fan of "interesting music," Electronica, world music or dance music, this is a MUST for your collection.

- mica3 star

Ok or just art? Moving forward to his past. This is ok but the music just sits there. Not their best effort.

- An experience.5 star

You have not heard an album like this. You may have heard artists influenced by this (Moby), but this 1981 masterpiece is otherworldly. It's definitely worth a listen to see a whole new take on music, which most likely influenced future Talking Heads albums, especially the polyrhythmic record "Remain in Light". The only song worth skipping? Vocal Outtakes, but that one's, well, outtakes. And vocals only. The physical CD comes with EXTENSIVE liner notes from David Toop and David Byrne himself, as well as the music video for "Mea Culpa" by Bruce Conner, though you can watch it on the Bush of Ghosts site.

- Classic5 star

Classic ENO..A must listen!

- Essential album, not worth buying again5 star

It amazes me how many otherwise well-informed people, particularly those keen on fusionist world music and electronica, remain unaware of this groundbreaking 1981 album. Byrne and Eno integrated odd vocal samples (politicians, evangelists, folktale tellers) with polyrhythmic funk and Middle Eastern-derived musical backing to create an eerie, compelling soundscape that was unlike most anything else out there at the time of its release (although musically, it owed a lot to the same influences apparent on Remain in Light and The Catherine Wheel). This stunning album clearly paved the way for studio technophiles like Moby et al years later. Most of the tracks remain awesome to this day, but even in the original release, a handful of weaker ones seemed to indicate that Byrne and Eno had run out of steam during production (The Carrier, A Secret Life, Mountain of Needles). Disappointingly, not included on this re-release is "Qu'ran" from the original, a very intense track that they withdrew after protests from Muslim fundamentalists. The "new" tracks here (from 12 forward) are nothing to write home about: most seem very unfinished, and only "Defiant" and "Number 8 Mix" cohere as whole songs that could've been on the original (though the former has exactly the same rhythmic structure as "The Jezebel Spirit"). If you don't already own this, it's well worth the money, but for those who do, best to just fill in with the extra singles as need be.


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PeteBosley - Timeless5 star

The benchmark for every album before or after. A masterpiece!

capn777 - A Masterpiece5 star

I bought this on vinyl when it first came out. I was so happy to see the re-release with the additional tracks, which I'd never heard before. The album is, in my opinion, a true Masterpiece. It is timeless. It is beautiful. Thanks Mr. Byrne & Mr. Eno.... you've left your mark.

steppenwolf33 - A Masterpiece of Multi-layered Music and Meaning5 star

This music gets under your skin and stays there. I haven't perceived the world quite the same way since I heard it. Isn't that what Art is supposed to do? I love Talking Heads (Byrne and Frantz) and Brian Eno and also was a fan of David van Teighem, so when I saw this at the music store years ago, I had to own it. Its power, and the spell it cast over me, never fades. The hair on the back of my neck still stands up when I hear "The Jezebel Spirit" and that evil exorcist's voice. "America is Waiting" is another song that never loses it's ability to remind me of the cloying insincerity of so much American news television. " Moonlight in Glory" is another great track. Think Middle American evangelism. This has a strange, twisted quality you can't escape. I feel Byrne and Eno all the way through it. What a great collaboration! Own it and enjoy it. Let it wash over you and alter your viewpoint (with headphones, of course).

HippyStock - My Childhood5 star

Surrounded by music such as this, I look back at my childhood and thank the hippy gods that my formative years were filled with music and art that allowed to avoid '70's and early '80's pop music.

kermit639 - Fabulous album.5 star

So glad to have found it again.

Art Hackett - What they said...5 star

This genius, skill and foresight still doesn’t grow old, and exposes most “modern” “artists” for the fashion frauds they are.

ROB🎀🇫🇷 - Profound Genius5 star

This album became the blueprint for sampling and electronic music in the 80's and beyond. A truly visionary album bringing together as it does pre- real world music and elements of Middle Eastern prayer and Fundamentalist Preaching over driving rhythms and tribal beats. A one of a kind album and ESSENTIAL listening!!!

NickstarNZ - Ahead of its time - then and now.5 star

One of the finest electronic albums ever made. Period. Byrne and Eno set out to sample a range for sources, from radio shows to Lebanese folk music, and overlay it with electronic music, mostly studio produced, including some of the most mesmerising syncopated rhythms and beats ever laid down on vinyl (it was first released in 1981!). Every track is unique and in the 32 years I have been playing these tracks I have never tired of the music - it is brilliant not just for the fact that every track is interesting (and intoxicating in many instances), but for the way it can be blended in to many very different situations or occasions, when the tracks take on a different hue every time. It was ground breaking in 1981 - it remains better then most even today! NB: the original version had a track titled Qur'an which was removed at the request of the Islamic Council of Great Britain. It is an excellent track and the album is, unfortunately, incomplete without it; but it was an act of respect by the artists that means it will have to remain that way.

Sunmachine - Pure Genius5 star

Years ahead of their time, David Byrne & Brian Eno merge Afro Funk rhythms with apocolyptic found vocals. This album paved the way for the sampling frenzy that moved popular music into the computer age.... but it was made before samplers were invented. Not just a technological triumph, it is work of awesome beauty. Poetic and prophetic! Both artists could enter the pantheon of rock immortals on the strength of this album alone.

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