I read about this re-creation of Eno's game-changing album, now with New! proper instruments instead of tape-loops and electronics, around the time of its UK launch at Stansted Airport. Louise Gray describes that event very well. Perhaps it was this piece that I read. Whether it was or not, the concept struck me as unnecessary and likely to be charmless.
During the Barbican's October 2006 Steve Reich at 70, Bang on a Can played Music for Airports on the free stage in the foyer, one Saturday afternoon. Living just five minutes' walk away, I dropped in. It was then that I realised how wrong I'd been. Just over a year later (why the delay? I don't know), I ordered a copy of the CD on Amazon Marketplace.
Comparisons are wrong, because context is critical to how we hear music. Eno himself makes this point, as follows:
music is actually a contingent combination of sounds whose emotional resonances are entirely dependent on the audience's personal and shared histories as listeners. By 'contingent' I mean that it could have been otherwise. Music didn’t have to consist of the elements and structures that it happens to consist of — and indeed it consists of quite other ones in other cultures, as anyone attending a concert of classical Thai music will soon realise.
Nevertheless, I can't think of many contexts or contingencies where I wouldn't prefer Bang on a Can's version to the original.
Meanwhile, I see the Black Dog have this year released an album with the cheeky title Music for Real Airports (Spotify). It begins with a drive down the M1 from Sheffield to the long stay car park at East Midlands Airport, and then proceeds through tracks with titles like DISinformation Desk, Wait Behind This Line, Strip Light Hate, Delay 9, Sleep Deprivation 2. Not when you're flying Red Carpet Club and inventing the future of perfume, eh?
…And then I found there's Music for Airports Live. Curiosity and the guilt of past misjudgements got the better of me, and I've just downloaded it. So far, I think it may be genuinely unnecessary.
MusicBrainz entry for this album
Wikipedia entry for this album
Rate Your Music entry for this album
Some metadata about this album at Last.fm