Third Uncle. Unearthing Brian Eno’s Bold Experimental Masterpiece
Third Uncle. Unearthing Brian Eno’s Bold Experimental Masterpiece

Third Uncle. Unearthing Brian Eno’s Bold Experimental Masterpiece

Are you ready to delve into the enigmatic world of Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle”? This iconic track is a true masterpiece of avant-garde rock music that has fascinated music enthusiasts for decades. In this extensive article, we will take a deep dive into the history and development of the song, explore its track listing, dissect significant reviews, decipher its key themes, examine its version and release history, and even discover notable cover versions. We’ll also delve into its chart performance in the USA, Europe, and the UK. So, let’s embark on this musical journey and unravel the mysteries of “Third Uncle.”

History and Development

Brian Eno, a pioneer in the world of ambient and experimental music, composed “Third Uncle” in the early 1970s. This track is a standout from his album “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy),” released in 1974. Eno’s approach to music was unconventional and innovative, and “Third Uncle” was no exception.

Eno’s early career involved collaborating with the legendary rock band Roxy Music, where he brought his unique soundscapes and synthesizer expertise to the forefront. After parting ways with Roxy Music, he embarked on a solo career that allowed him to fully explore his creative boundaries.

“Third Uncle” is a testament to Eno’s willingness to push musical boundaries. It combines elements of rock, punk, and avant-garde, showcasing Eno’s diverse influences. The track features powerful guitar riffs, pulsating rhythms, and Eno’s distinct vocal style. It is a departure from traditional rock music, with its unconventional song structure and dissonant harmonies.

Track Listing

“Third Uncle” is the fourth track on Brian Eno’s album “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).” The album as a whole is a remarkable journey through Eno’s experimental soundscape, but “Third Uncle” stands out as one of its most energetic and captivating tracks. Here’s the complete track listing for the album:

  1. “Burning Airlines Give You So Much More”
  2. “Back in Judy’s Jungle”
  3. “The Fat Lady of Limbourg”
  4. “Third Uncle”
  5. “Put a Straw Under Baby”
  6. “The True Wheel”
  7. “China My China”
  8. “Taking Tiger Mountain”

Each track on the album offers a unique sonic experience, but “Third Uncle” remains the crowning jewel of the collection.

Significant Reviews

“Third Uncle” has received critical acclaim since its release. Music critics and enthusiasts have praised its innovative approach and the fearless experimentation that defines Brian Eno’s musical career.

  • Lester Bangs, a renowned music critic, described “Third Uncle” as “a sonic adventure that defies categorization.” He commended Eno for his boldness in pushing the boundaries of rock music.
  • Rolling Stone magazine hailed the track as “a sonic explosion of raw energy and dissonance.” They lauded Eno’s ability to create a chaotic yet captivating sonic landscape.
  • Pitchfork, in a retrospective review, referred to “Third Uncle” as “a timeless masterpiece that continues to inspire and influence generations of musicians.” They highlighted its enduring appeal and its influence on the post-punk and new wave movements.

These reviews reflect the enduring impact and significance of “Third Uncle” in the world of experimental music.

Key Themes

“Third Uncle” is not just a musical composition; it is a sonic journey that explores several key themes:

  1. Dissonance and Chaos: The track embraces dissonance as a central theme, challenging conventional harmonies and creating a chaotic yet exhilarating atmosphere.
  2. Rebellion and Nonconformity: Eno’s lyrics and vocal delivery convey a sense of rebellion and nonconformity, echoing the spirit of the punk movement that was gaining momentum during that era.
  3. Mystery and Ambiguity: The lyrics are cryptic and open to interpretation, adding an element of mystery to the track. Listeners are invited to decipher the meaning behind the words.
  4. Experimental Soundscapes: “Third Uncle” showcases Eno’s fascination with experimental soundscapes. It is a sonic playground where he pushes the boundaries of conventional rock music.

Version/Release History

“Third Uncle” has undergone various transformations and re-releases over the years. One of the most notable versions is the live rendition featured on Eno’s 1975 album “Another Green World.” This live version captures the raw energy of Eno’s performance and adds a new dimension to the track.

In 2004, Brian Eno released a remastered version of “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)” as part of his “Digital Remaster Series.” This reissue included enhanced sound quality and bonus tracks, reigniting interest in “Third Uncle” among both longtime fans and a new generation of listeners.

Bauhaus Cover Version

Bauhaus, one of the most iconic bands in the gothic rock and post-punk genre, made their own unique mark on Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle.” Their cover version of the song is a testament to their ability to infuse dark and atmospheric elements into existing tracks, creating something entirely their own.

Bauhaus included their rendition of “Third Uncle” on their 1982 album “The Sky’s Gone Out.” This album was the band’s third studio release and continued to showcase their distinctive sound characterized by deep, haunting vocals, brooding basslines, and a sense of eerie mystery.

Bauhaus’ version of “Third Uncle” takes Eno’s experimental track and adds a layer of gothic sensibility. The band’s frontman, Peter Murphy, delivers the vocals with his signature baritone, infusing the song with an even darker and more menacing tone. Daniel Ash’s guitar work is sharp and angular, contributing to the overall sense of urgency and unease.

The cover version retains the dissonant and chaotic elements of the original but amplifies them, creating a sound that is simultaneously aggressive and hypnotic. Bauhaus’ “Third Uncle” is a prime example of how a talented group of musicians can take an already innovative track and transform it into something entirely distinct and captivating.

This interpretation of “Third Uncle” by Bauhaus has become a beloved part of their discography and a favorite among their fans. It showcases the band’s ability to make a song their own while paying homage to the experimental genius of Brian Eno. If you’re a fan of both artists, experiencing both versions of “Third Uncle” offers a fascinating glimpse into the diverse possibilities of musical interpretation within the post-punk and gothic rock genres.

List of Similar Tracks

If you’re captivated by the experimental brilliance of “Third Uncle,” you may want to explore other tracks and artists that share a similar spirit of innovation and nonconformity. Here are some recommendations:

  1. David Bowie – “Breaking Glass”: Bowie’s collaboration with Brian Eno on the album “Low” resulted in tracks like “Breaking Glass,” which exudes a similar experimental energy.
  2. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime”: This iconic track from the album “Remain in Light” showcases the Talking Heads’ willingness to embrace unconventional rhythms and soundscapes.
  3. Pere Ubu – “Non-Alignment Pact”: Pere Ubu’s early work, including “Non-Alignment Pact” from the album “The Modern Dance,” is known for its avant-garde approach to punk rock.
  4. The Velvet Underground – “Sister Ray: This classic from The Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” album pushes the boundaries of rock music with its extended improvised jams.

Notable Cover Versions

“Third Uncle” has also inspired numerous cover versions by artists across different genres. Some of the notable interpretations include:

  1. Bauhaus: The influential gothic rock band Bauhaus covered “Third Uncle” on their 1982 album “The Sky’s Gone Out,” adding their signature dark and atmospheric touch to the track.
  2. Eno Moebius Roedelius: In 1985, Brian Eno collaborated with Cluster members Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius to create a reinterpretation of “Third Uncle” on their album “After the Heat.”
  3. Twin Shadow: Modern indie artist Twin Shadow released a cover of “Third Uncle” in 2011, introducing the track to a new generation of listeners.

Chart Performance

“Third Uncle” did not achieve significant chart success in the USA, where mainstream rock and pop dominated the charts during the 1970s. However, it garnered more attention in Europe and the UK, where alternative and experimental music found a more receptive audience.

In the UK, the single release of “Third Uncle” peaked at number 49 on the UK Singles Chart in 1974. This modest chart performance reflected the track’s status as a cult classic rather than a mainstream hit.

In Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, where experimental music had a more substantial following, “Third Uncle” received more radio play and attention. It achieved a higher chart position in these countries compared to its performance in the USA and the UK.

Third Uncle

“Third Uncle” by Brian Eno remains an enduring and influential piece of avant-garde rock music. Its dissonant harmonies, rebellious lyrics, and experimental soundscapes continue to captivate listeners and inspire musicians across generations. As we explore the track’s history and development, track listing, significant reviews, key themes, version/release history, list of similar tracks, notable cover versions, and chart performance, we gain a deeper appreciation for the creative genius of Brian Eno and the timeless appeal of “Third Uncle.”