EGED 27 Music From The Penguin Cafe
Produced by Simon Jeffes and Steve Nye
Released on 1976
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Find it at GEMM
EGED 27 cover
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K ronomyth 1.0: TRY THE CALE SOUP. The early songs of Eno notwithstanding, this is some of the silliest music to be released under the serious E.G. imprint. Penguin Café Orchestra is the brainchild of Simon Jeffes, a sort of walking one-man band who conscripted a trio of Helen Liebmann (cello), Gavyn Wright (violin) and Steve Nye (electric piano, mixing) to make mostly instrumental music that sounded like a cross between Anthony Phillips, John Cale and The Residents. The first album is at least partially grounded in the avant-garde, featuring a couple Nico-esque turns from Emily Young (“Coronation,” “Milk”). Yet the real revelation comes in the joyous music they make when all pretensions to art drop: “Penguin Café Single,” “From The Colonies,” “Giles Farnaby’s Dream.” These songs have a childlike mirth (really, that’s the best I can do, “childlike mirth?”) that quickly gets under your skin and builds up enough goodwill to make their excursions into avant-garde territory tolerable. The second all but eschewed the latter in favor of the favor (it was an almost palpable eschewiness, as I recall, which reminds me: buy a dictionary), while the third barfed up the serious bits it had been eschewing and swallowed them again (that sentence was bound to come to no good). Recorded in 1974 and 1976, Music From The Penguin Café is a contemporary of Eno’s Another Green World; if that album felt like a studied work (and it did), Music could be viewed as its understudy: some ideas based on a simple melody and expanded, others picked up and quickly dropped, one or two polished and put into the pockets as a keepsake. For years, Music was a solitary curio, followed by a delightful and unexpected followup in 1981, after which the Orchestra became a regular gig for Simon Jeffes. I typically come back to the first when I’ve exhausted the second, then onward to the third and/or back into the arms of Cale, Eno, etc. It’s more fun than Anthony Phillips’ Private Parts and more accessible than The Residents (most things are, really), plus there are few things in life more pleasant than a well-timed ukelele part, so feel free to explore this Music (though the sequel is the better place to start). There’s also a review of this on All Music from the PenGuide Cafe.

EGED 27 back cover EEGCD 27 cover
EGED 27 back cover EEGCD 27 cover
[high resolution scan]


  1. PENGUIN CAFE SINGLE    (Simon Jeffes/Steve Nye/Gavyn Wright/Helen Leibmann)    6:15
  2. ZOPF    (Simon Jeffes)
    From The Colonies (for N.R.)    1:38
    In A Sydney Motel    2:28
    Surface Tension (where the trees meet the sky)    2:22
    Milk    2:22
    Coronation    1:32
    Giles Farnaby's Dream    (Giles Farnaby/Simon Jeffes)    2:19
    Pigtail    2:44
  3. THE SOUND OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE WHO'S GOING AWAY AND IT DOESN'T MATTER    (Simon Jeffes/Steve Nye/Gavyn Wright/Helen Leibmann)    11:46
  4. HUGEBABY    (Simon Jeffes/Steve Nye/Gavyn Wright/Helen Leibmann)    4:48
  5. CHARTERED FLIGHT    (Simon Jeffes/Steve Nye/Gavyn Wright/Helen Leibmann)    6:41

    Words by Neil Rennie except "Milk"


SIMON JEFFES -- electric guitar, guitar, bass, ukelele, quatro, spinet, electric piano, mouth percussion, vocals, cello, cheng, ring modulator
STEVE NYE -- electric piano, engineer, mixing
NEIL RENNIE -- lyrics, ukelele (2)
GAVYN WRIGHT -- violin, viola
EMILY YOUNG -- vocals, painting
Brian Eno -- executive production

return to PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA discography

UK 1976 Obscure LP OBS-7  
FRA/GER 1976 Editions EG LP 2311 041  
JPN 1976 Editions EG LP 25MM-0138  
UK/US 1987 Editions EG LP/CD EGED/EEGCD 27  
UK   Virgin CS OVEDC-431  
GER   EMI CD 787 448  
JPN September 26, 2008 EMI CD VJCP-68883  


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