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Talk Talk - Asides Besides  CD (album) cover

ASIDES BESIDES

Talk Talk

 

Crossover Prog

2.45 | 12 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Remixes and rarities

This double CD collection will be of little interest to those seeking the Talk Talk who metamorphosed into a prog band later in their career. This is, as the title suggests, a collection of the band's most commercial material, together with some relative rarities from their commercial period.

That said, this is not simply a greatest hits package either, as the "A-sides" are extended and remixed versions of the songs, not the radio edits. Disc one is in fact identical to the "12 x 12" Original remixes" album and also to a release simply entitled "Remixed". The remixes are rather predictable and unadventurous, but the strength of the source material means that they make for an enjoyable listen nonetheless.

It is though to the second disc that we look for the real meat of this collection. Here we have a selection of non-album A and B-sides, demo versions, and a couple of genuine rarities. Some of these tracks, such as "My foolish friend", "Pictures of Bernadette" and "Without you" thus appear twice in original and extended format on this compilation.

The disc kicks of with a trio of very early demos by the band, including the song from which they took their name. Recorded in June 1981, these demos of "Talk Talk", "Mirror man" and "Candy" (all of which would appear on the band's debut album) successfully attracted the attention of EMI records, who offered the band a contract. While these are unquestionably rooted in 80's pop, even here we can determine the melancholy style which would come to dominate later albums.

Thereafter, we have a succession of songs which appeared as B-sides of singles, but were not included on albums. In many cases, it is apparent why the songs were kept hidden, This is not because they are bad, but because they tend to fall noticeably short of the standards set by the tracks which made onto singles and albums. "Strike up the band", the B-side of "Mirror man" for example, is a number which many bands would have been quite proud of, but heard in the context of Talk Talk's back catalogue, it sits well towards the foot in terms of quality. Likewise, "?" ("Question mark") has some nice synth, but the clumsy beat and average melody combine to offer an unremarkable slice of 80's pop.

One of the nicest surprises of these B-sides is "It's getting late in the evening", which was originally paired with "Life's what you make it". By the time of the album on which that song appeared ("The colour of spring"), the band were in full transition mode. "It's getting late. . ." captures the essence of that change as well as many of the tracks which made it onto the album. "For what it's worth", the B side of "Living in another world" from the same album, is equally appealing.

Every so often, the B-sides are broken up by a non-album A-side, or other rarity. The first of these is "My foolish friend", which was released as a single in 1983. It stands out from the tracks around it, as it is on a par with the other Talk Talk singles of the period. The B-side of this particular single was a reinterpretation of "Call in the night boy", a track which originally appeared on the "It's my life album". This version however transforms the song from a rather disposable synth pop number to a pared back piano and vocal exercise which would have sounded quite at home on the "Spirit of Eden" album.

The rarest track here is the 7" version of "Why is it so hard", a song written for a film called "First born". While it alone is hardly worth buying this entire double CD compilation for, the track will be of interest to devotees of the band.

By its very nature, this is not an album for those with merely a passing interest in Talk Talk. Nor is it suitable for those who are only interested in their final albums, where they explored prog territories. Those however who find merit in the band's early albums will find much to enjoy here. Not an unmitigated collection of forgotten gems by any means, but worthy of investigation.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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