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Talking Heads - Remain In Light CD (album) cover

REMAIN IN LIGHT

Talking Heads

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Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

good pop/rock band , but absolutely NOTHING PROG, no matter what some would have you believe !!!

Fourth album for our Speaking Heads, and often pointed by fans as their peak (I beg to differ, but it was also the one that put TH on my "positive" radar), and again a fairly adventuresome album (exploring African rhythms) that was somewhat groundbreaking for the pop scene, but nothing all that new on the jazz scene. Released on the decade's turn with a screwed-up digital face artwork (the back cover is nicer with those warplanes over mountains) and produced by Brian Eno

The opening side is actually quite fine and filled with tracks that got a fair bit of airwaves exposure, so most of the now-late 30's music-heads should be familiar with. Tracks like Crosseyed, Lifetime, Curve and Punches are all fairly lengthy (all things relative considered the "prog" context) and repetitive with those African rhythms sprawled all over them, courtesy of the great drummer Harrison and Tina Weymouth's pedestrian bass. Some of those guitar wails will find themselves transposed on Crimson albums like Discipline, namely the Elephant Talk wails. The flipside is not quite as successful, but still create the odd surprise, as a lot of fans spun it much less than its reverse. It's still quite worthy and adventurous, but generally slower and a tad darker (Overload)

The deluxe double-disc remastered version includes a bunch of unfinished (and still instrumental) studio tracks from the album sessions, the first being the openly-influenced Fela's (Kuti) Riff, all of them well in the line of the album and nothing shocking with the disc's progress. The second disc a mixed audio/video DVD, where the album gets a 5.1 audio mix and two concert RIL album pieces with the usual extended line-up (with ex-Zappa and future-Crimson Adrian Belew), showing excellent on-stage presence and fun-filled exhibition. As much as RIL is a good (sometimes brilliant) pop album that might have been slightly groundbreaking on the pop music front, I still wouldn't call this music "prog" and barely progressive. Doesn't stop me from liking it nonetheless, though.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#298029)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For me Talking Heads put out two albums that I've always considered to be prog. This one and Fear Of Music. The debut was simple new wave, but when Eno got involved with the band on their second album they went off in a new direction. After this album, they'd head off in a more commercial direction, but this was their pinnacle.

The band lineup had expanded with guest musicians, including Brian Eno and Adrian Belew to make some really complex and intense music. This music certainly bears little resemblance to the progressive rock of the early '70's, but with so many of the big names from that era veering off into commercial music, this album came along as breath of fresh air.

Fans of surround sound mixes will be interested to know that Jerry Harrison has presided over recent remasters which include bonus tracks and surround sound mix on the DVD side of the discs as well as some video. Fans of the band are sure to go "dammit, now I need to buy them all over again."

Best track on here to convince you this is prog: The Overload.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#298037)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
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Prog Metal Team
4 stars While most prog bands were almost on the verge of extinction by 1980, Talking Heads were on the other side of that equation and prospered like they've never done before!

Remain In Light marks not only a great followup to Fear Of Music, but most importantly, a creative peak in the band's discography. Filled with a huge list of guest appearances, among which we can spot familiar names like Adrian Belew and Brian Eno, Talking Heads were really trying to get as much new blood into the mix and it didn't take long for the results to follow. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) is Talking Heads like we've never heard them before, featuring a backing choir and different sound twitches and effects, marking a new chapter for fusion music.

Things actually get even better when Talking Heads outdo themselves with Crosseyed And Painless which, even to this day, remains my favorite out of the many crossover tracks that David Byrne had worked on. The Great Curve is generally considered just as great as the two preceding tracks, although I personally miss that same intensity that kept me on the edge of my seat the first two times. This is the track where Adrian Belew really gets a shot in the spotlight with his guitar work that culminates with his off-the-wall guitar solo, even if the version depicted on the live album The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads is even more exciting!

The rest of the album isn't really as upbeat but that doesn't mean that there is an automatic drop in quality. How could it possibly, when you have compositions like Once In A Lifetime and Listening Wind? Still, the biggest highlight of Remain In Light for me will remain the haunting conclusion with the 6 minute performance of The Overload! This is one of those complete moments of genius that comes completely out of nowhere and adds rich texture to the already excellent performance. There's no reason for me to explain this track to anyone since I'll be ruining this experience in the process. Just give this album a spin and expect the unexpected right towards its end!

***** star songs: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (5:49) Crosseyed And Painless (4:46) The Overload (6:03)

**** star songs: The Great Curve (6:28) Once In A Lifetime (4:20) Houses In Motion (4:33) Seen And Not Seen (3:25) Listening Wind (4:43)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#298051)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
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Prog Metal Team
5 stars 1980! One of my favorite years in music with an impressive list of all time favorites such as Empires and Dance, Closer, 17 Seconds, Vienna, Gentlemen Take Polaroids, In The Flat Field and this Remain in Light. And then I'm even leaving out the NWOBHM side of the story and a couple of old goats like Hammill, Bowie, Sabbath and Rush that hit a new creative well. Really, what was going on in 1980?

Remain in Light is quite different from the preceding Tálking Heads albums. There were some tracks on Fear of Music that hinted at the new direction but things has come to full fruition here. With the help of long-term friend Eno and Adrian Belew, the mix of African rhythms, art rock, new electronic sounds and frenzied punk energy is rounded off with a progressive edge, apparent in the delicate arrangements and the loose and entrancing structure of the pieces. The obvious art rock roots of previous album have grown into something entirely new and unique, incorporating funk, kraut and new wave.

Best of all, the songwriting is superb throughout this album. The breeze of inspiration that hit similar-minded bands such as Japan, Ultravox and Simple Minds in the UK must have crossed the Atlantic and blessed the city of New York. The creative surge is also felt in the diversity of the album, that can be roughly split up in two halves, with very infectious art-funk-disco in the first half and gradually more introspective mood-pieces in the second half, culminating in the beautifully gothic Joy Division atmospheres of The Overload.

Nothing less then a musical masterpiece for me, not only recommended to the usual suspects of the Eno-Cale-Bowie-Roxy fan-club but to ... everybody really.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#298266)
Posted Friday, September 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't add much more to what Bonnek and Rune2000 have said about this album. When I was introduced to it by a friend (with I formed a friendship over our common adoration of a new group/album called "U2 'Boy'"), it was so far out of my familiar/comfort zone that it took me several listens to start 'hearing' the music--the genius. (Much like my current-day associations with bands like AFTER CRYING, FROMUZ, and Toby Driver's projects.) I remember hearing about "The Great Curve" having been written around Adrien Belew's odd-yet-stunning solo. I remember being overwhelmed by all of the layers--so much action/activity going on. But I also know that "Remain in Light" has been on my constant playlist--has remained a constant favorite--ever since. It's innovation and genius never fail to bring smiles and goosebumps. "The Great Curve" ("the world moves on a woman's hips"!), "Listening Wind" ("Mo-JHEEK"), "Cross-eyed and Painless" ("I'm a government man") and the amazing "The Overload" are timeless masterpieces--as is the whole album! Another triumph for Brian Eno!

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#299343)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The 80's started with a Bang! and so does the title track " Born Under Punches" In this reviewer's opinion the best piece ever written by the band, incredible keyboards, percussion and guitar riffs all splendidly backed by Byrne's vocals and voices by Belew, Nona Hendryx, Eno to name a few. It is so full of driving energy and the cutting lyrics...." Take a look at these hands, the hands of a government man....." create the image of an everyday worker just being pummelled day in day out trying to survive. A great social awareness piece! I think it is Belew's guitar breaks about 2 minutes in, either way such skill. Quite an exhausting start but any hopes of some respite quickley fade with the next track " Crosseyed and Painless"....." Lost my shape, trying to act casual......." How can so few words say so much...haha! In terms of identity awareness TH had never come closer to being the complete article. More hypnotic guitar pieces with relentless rythms. " The Great Curve" plays out the old side one and is six minutes of driving vocals, thumping percussions/horns and keys and great backing vocals from Nona Hendryx. This particular track has been a fans favourite live too. The KC axeman Mr. Belew doing what he does best here, with shades of neurotica in his playing, pardon the pun.

Side two comprises of more shorter works in general but they are all equally as incisive." Once In a Lifetime" relating to to that social alienation we at times reflect upon....." You may ask yourself, well how did I get here..." Musically very tight but taking more of a back seat here. " House In Motion" is next and succeeds in taking the album to new heights. Could it get any higher? You betcha! " Seen and not Seen" is an incredibly sermon like epiphony from the band all laid down in just over three minutes. Harrison's keyboards are haunting and the hypnotic clap/percussion all beautifully linked together by Eno's wizardry and Weymouth's great bass work. Byrne reminds me here of a southern baptist preacher reaching out to his flock only the lyrics are sad, reflective and plaintive, never demanding." Listening Wind" another fans favourite has some great connective synergy, lyrically pointing fingers as to why we should be playing as red indians as kids, not cowboys.....:" Wind in my heart, drive them away....." Ah yes the human condition has much to be ashamed of. It is great when artists can portray these emotions so poignantly. Last but not least the droning and top heavy " Overload" plays out RIL. This work not disimilar to " My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" album by Eno/Byrne. Oh I have neglected to mention the great John Hassell providing horn arrangements and trumpet throughout, note " The Great Curve".

This work is arguably one of the finest albums to come out in the 20th century. There will be no disclaimer apologising for too much lavish praise by this reviewer for Remain In Light. It is a work of such grandeur even the late Richard Wright of Pink Floyd put this up in his top ten. That in itself speaks volumes really, along with many notable music publications listing it in the top 100 albums of all time. Without doubt TH's most progressive work too along with it's predecessor Fear Of Music.An essential lifetime experience.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#303249)
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
js (Easy Money)
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Some people just don't know when to shut up, and with a name like Talking Heads one shouldn't expect economical use of language, but on Remain in Light David Byrne suffers from a particularly severe case of runoff at the mouth that has him blabbing, in an obvious free association psycho-speak sort of way, every little thing about himself and his mountain-out-of-a-molehill 'psychological' problems to the point that we beg for some sort of dignity and candor but are only given more bleak-eyed self generated paranoia.

What happened to the Talking Heads, they had such a groovy thing going before it all went to their (Talking) Heads. More Songs about Buildings and Food was a great little art rock album and a breath of fresh air in the then decaying world of rock music. All of a sudden they forgot about cool quirky sarcastic songs about everyday phenomena and decided to go for the (cue Jim Morrison voice)'big artistic statement', always a mistake in the world of rock unless you are the young Bob Dylan. This isn't a terrible album at all, but the overreaching self-conscious lyrics and phony musical expansions have not aged well and they can come across as kind of embarrassing.

This album starts off OK, some of the early songs are kind of catchy despite David's voice and words being a hindrance from the get go, but things really bog down when we get to side two. On the last three songs of side two the tempo drops and David brings out the couch to tell us all about it and things get so insufferably suffocating that I expect to see the Lizard King himself rolling around on the stage floor trying to remember who he is.

As most people know, this really isn't a T Heads album, but more likely a hostile coup by Byrne and producer Eno that left personal relations in the band in shambles. Overall this album comes across as an attempt to recreate Eno-Byrne's excellent Bush of Ghosts album, only they decided to replace amusing taped found vocals with Mr Byrne and that is where things go wrong. Taped rabid preachers sound a lot better on top of Byrne/Eno's pseudo African grooves than Byrne's attempts to imitate said preachers. On the plus side, Byrne's attempts to imitate some popular African music is not terrible, but On Listening Wind they blatantly rip-off Jon Hassell's 'fourth world' rhythm style and are even 'nice' enough to let him solo on it as well. The whole excursion seems very forced.

Some of the music on here is nice if you can block out the 'lyrics', but if you want to hear Byrne and Eno doing their funky world groove thang, check out My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. If you want to hear The Talking Heads do their funky nue wavo anglo groove thang, then check out More Songs About Buildings and Food.

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Send comments to js (Easy Money) (BETA) | Report this review (#303475)
Posted Monday, October 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I have to be blunt - I do not enjoy this album as much as I do Fear (even if I give it the same 5-star rating; this is a 4.51 if ever there was one, while Fear is like a 4.7 to me). This is not a simple function of hearing Fear before this and thus having a preconceived notion of what the Head sound should be based on that album. Au contraire, I heard Light well before I heard Fear, but while I liked that album from the beginning, this took a looooooong time for me to appreciate. So sue me, it's because I came to Talking Heads largely from earlier music, and not from later - in other words, since my natural music inclinations are towards the periods before New Wave and not towards the periods after (this is not to say that I rank modern music below older music as a rule - I'm just saying what my gut leans towards), the traditionalist in me is better able to appreciate Fear and more likely to be scared of the bizarre po-mo leanings of Light.

But blast it, just because I don't instinctively love something doesn't mean I can't eventually come to enjoy and respect the heck out of it. This is a sonic masterpiece, with Eno and guest-guitarist Adrian Belew combining forces with the band to make a bunch of hypnotic grooves that prove that any sonic texture is possible if you can only imagine it. A review of the album upon its release made a statement to the effect that this album completely obliterated the boundary between "black" music and "white" music, and I have to say I largely agree with this. Remain in Light is indeed a massive shake-your-booty album (if you have some dancing creativity, that is), albeit moreso on side one than two, yet the amount of stuff happening on top of that dancable foundation would make any art-rock band proud.

I have to say, though, that it isn't really so much the Heads themselves that make this album so great for me. I mean, don't get me wrong, they're plenty great here - the guitar interplay in parts of this album is better than ever, the massive work on the part of the rhythm section cannot possibly be overrated, and David's omnipresent ramblings are just as spacey as ever (less coherent than on Music, though, which kinda makes me sad in some ways). On the other hand, though, what the band members themselves do on this album is just, well, them doing what they proved they could do on the first three albums. They may be doing it faster and better than before, yes, but it's still ultimately the same ole same ole high quality.

If you ask me where the distinguishing greatness of this album lies, it ultimately comes down to four capitalized words: Brian Eno, Adrian Belew. I don't really care how talented the band members were; many of the sounds and rhythms, with such jagged precision as they have, could not possibly exist in a "live" setup or even in the hands of most producers. All throughout, Eno basically takes the studio, bends it over on his knee, and makes it cry out, "Harder, daddy, harder!" as he spanks it for all it's worth. Of course, Eno's contributions are not just in producing - he's given a songwriting credit along with the band on all of the tracks, and his backing vocals are extremely prominent in more than a few places.

Ah man, and then there's Belew. That ultra-weird video-game morse-code solo thing in "Born Under Punches?" Belew! Those hellish, spacey guitar noises that pop up in "Crosseyed and Painless?" Belew! Those solos with that MASSIVE tone in "The Great Curve?" Belew! These are my favorite moments on the album! No wonder Fripp wanted Belew in the 80's King Crimson so badly!

Anyway, I feel bad that I've gotten this far into the review without describing in much detail the actual songs, but blast it, these aren't easy songs to describe - these are anthemic grooves!! Well, ok, there's one place where the repetitive groove kinda forms into a "normal" song, on the wonderful "Once in a Lifetime." Dave has one of his best rants, Eno and the band do a great job with the harmonies (I love love Eno's voice on this), it has all of these great "watery" effects to go with the watery lyrical content ... Man, this is great, even if I listened to this track with an extremely perplexed look the first time I heard it.

I'm also extremely fond of The Great Curve, not in the least because of Belew's aforementioned solos. However, this is only the final great part of an otherwise brilliant groove, one that can't help but get your foot tapping like mad for six+ minutes while backing vocals interact incredibly with the lead vocals with the guitars with the bass with the drums with the whatever. Oh man, this is beyond brilliant as far as "dance pop" goes - if your whole body isn't trying to move from the "World moves on a woman's hips" part onward, you're even more hopelessly honkified than I am.

The first two songs of the first side are also brilliant, but frankly I'm at a loss to describe them very well. Grooves that do everything imaginable based on those grooves in the time alotted them? That works, I guess. Anyway, the second side is the mellow side of the band on display, and while it's much more difficult to enjoy the tracks here than the other ones on first listen, they've grown on me plenty. Not that there's much to describe with them, unless I go into a majorly dissective mode with them. "Houses in Motion" is Byrne talking and singing over a hypnotic, proto-trance groove (with Byrne and Eno singing in tandem from time to time), "Seen but not Seen" is Byrne talking over a better, more Eno-synth-heavy groove, "Listening Wind" is a WONDERFUL mellow groove (with some GREAT atmospheric synths and that incredibly hypnotic "wind in my heart ..." chorus), and "The Overload" is ... wow, not really a groove. It's just a dark and scary atmosphere piece. It's creepier than "Drugs," if that helps at all.

As you can probably tell from the rather aborted description of the songs here, the biggest problem for me is that I can't really relate to this music, as cool as I think it sounds. If you're one of those consumers and/or makers of that beep-beep music the kids are calling electronica, though, this will probably be your Bible (not that this album is electronica per se, as the raw elements were played by human hands, but these elements are very very heavily manipulated). As for me, it's just a great album, and one that I like even more than I thought, but one that doesn't grab me quite like Fear of Music does. Ah well, that's my problem, I suppose.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#374348)
Posted Thursday, January 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 10/10

"Remain In Light" is one of the most important albums of all time, that defined rock music as we now it today.

Talking Heads are now regarded as one of the most important and influential rock artists of all time. David Byrne and his band, before "Remain In Light", had gained a lot of attention in the post-punk scene, for being the most eclectic and experimental outfit that was labeled punk around. In 1980 though Talking Heads outdid themselves, creating a timeless masterpiece that even today is hard to match.

Art-Punk is probably the most comfortable way to define the music; in fact, it is neurotic, tense, wild, like Post-Punk, but arranged in a way that is everything but that: Third World influences, Funk, Soul, Progressive. It might sound like a huge melting pot, but it isn't that at all. Each song is studied and written with such attention and dedication that apparently it sounds very spontaneous. The sounds and the production here are perfect, captivating and phenomenal, the musicianship is top notch. The songwriting is very original; some songs have a few hooks, and eventually almost all of them will be pasted one on another, creating a sort of organized confusion; it doesn't occur in all of the tracks, in fact, they are present almost exclusively in the first part of the album

The album represents perfectly the metropolitan and globalized world that was back in 1980 and still is today. A flawless reflection of ourselves, trapped in the everyday urban jungle, in a post-industrial era, struggling to survive finding ways to forget that we're completely lost. This is all told thanks to the poetry of David Byrne and producer Brian Eno, who was considered the fifth member of the band, because of his huge contribution to the album. The lyrics are abstract at times, and it can be hard to understand the deep meaning of some of them, but in others they're clearly explicit, loud and clear, even though always transmitted through surreal lenses.

The structure of the album is extremely original, having never seen something this conceptual, with the exception of Byrne and Eno's solo album "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts", "Remain In Light"s twin, released the following year. The first three songs have an overall cheerful mood, and an ascending tempo from song to song; "Born To Punches" is moderate, "Crosseyed and Painless" fast, "The Great Curve" very fast. These three songs represent the lighter side. "Once In A Lifetime" is in the exact middle of the album; it's mysterious but very fascinating in the verse, bright and happy sounding in the chorus. This is in a way an anticipation to the second half of the album, which starts with "Houses In Motion", a half-Spoken Word song, very tense and sort of creepy in the verse thanks to the abstract beats and arrangements, but it still has a pretty cheerful chorus. Things get darker with "Seen and Not Seen", lyrically very fascinating, musically mysterious and a little gloomy too. This one though is pretty much all Spoken Word. "Listening Wind" is very mellow, melancholic, and sad sounding, and lyrically it is in my opinion the best song here, being a story about a native American living in America, seeing all the new inhabitants of his town and wanting to burn every building down. So far the darkness in the second part of the album got more present with each song; coherently wih the theme and struture of the album,"The Overload" is probably one of the darkest and gloomiest songs I've ever heard. Bleak, agonic, this song is a masterpiece and simply the only one that could have ended "Remain In Light".

This is an absolute must listen. An essential masterpiece that everybody should be aware of and appreciate. That way, maybe the world could rise from the gray for a little bit and remain, just for a little bit, in light.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#471332)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The best and most original sounding Talking Heads album, which in parts, sounds remarkably similar to 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' from '81. This one's a bit more upbeat with plenty of odd vocals from the redoubtable David Byrne.

I will admit, I'm not their biggest fan - I've had to endure 'Little Creatures' and 'True Stories' in the past. Dreadful fare if you ask me.

'Remain in Light' however, is a far more successful album. Mr brainy egghead Eno is on board one more time on production duties which is used to great effect.

For such a repetitive two note bass album, it's incredible that this recording stands up at all. It's strange white funk, which should collapse under it's own weight of complexity, but Brian Eno keeps things sparkly, clean and fresh.

Side one is brilliant with an abundance of unusualness for a 1980 pop album. Side two falls a bit flat with too many lower paced tunes, where your mind starts to wander.

It's another of those albums that has no real place on the Archives, but I'm happy to find it here and give it a positive rating.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#510391)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The third collaboration between Talking Heads and Brian Eno is a feast of polyrhythmic wonders, with world music influences (particularly derived from African music) prominent. At the same time as preparing this David Byrne and Eno had been working on their classic My Life In the Bush of Ghosts, and Byrne appears to have applied the rhythm experiments from that to this album, as well as developing a fascinating stream-of-consciousness, almost improvisational lyrical style reminiscent of similar lyric-writing approaches by Eno, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. The band themselves have never been tighter, with Adrian Belew's contributions providing a precedent for his future work with the reformed King Crimson. Plus this album has Once In a Lifetime, which has to be one of the best art rock singles of all time.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#566687)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is really good. Not groundbreaking though. "What?! Not groundbreaking?" You might have heard of Holger Czukay's "Movies" (1979), right? Now that one is truly original. "Remain in Light" sounds very similar to the former. It has the sonic experimentation and stylistic divesity, but in that range of diversity "Movies" does not have the Afro-beat, and it consists of only four tracks, two of each go well over ten minutes. Yay, the prog-rock spirit! Gosh, those two records are so similar!

Anyway, let's discuss "Remain in Light" alone. The reason why I gave this album a four is because it lacks the idea of novel insanity that was explored on the classic '72-'74 Yes albums. 'Crosseyed and Painless' and 'The Great Curve' do not raise the bar at all, although the latter's guitar solos are just nutty. But my intuition tells me it's just not enough. They just don't raise the bar Steve Howe had set. The record just doesn't get on my deepest senses. Maybe it's because the focus of the group, as well as Eno, was grooviness, not the economics and saturation of texture. I mean, the songs are groovy, but they do not sound intoxicating like, say, 'Paper' or 'I Zimbra' on "Fear of Music." And, as I have said before, it's not that original. Besides, there are a couple of simply decent songs and one 'braindead' song (that would be 'The Overload'), and I still can't remember what the latter sounds like. And now that I have remembered what it sounds like, at least it's moody a la Joy Division, which I don't mind much. But it still sounds like a throwaway. Like a duplicate (or brother, if you like) of 'Drugs', also from "Fear of Music." Oh, tread carefully: some of those ditties may be a bit too long for you.

But the experiments on this puppy are cool enough and the songs are really rhythmic. That's what makes most of the songs on this record so tacky. I caught 'Crosseyed and Painless' on Pandora and did some research on the record. It did take me quite a few listens before I started digging that style. 'Born Under Punches', 'The Great Curve', 'Once in a Lifetime' - they are all awesome. The thing that makes this album so interesting is the mastered mix of styles such as Afro-beat, funk, electronica (courtesy of Fela Kuti himself), experimental music, and pop. It seems like the group with Brian Eno had pinned down a kind of a distinctive formula for about six tracks on the album. It's actually funny: it is the very same mix that led my mother to believe that it sounds a lot like Jewish music. I don't know. Maybe. And she was fine with that kind of music. It's not weird that she was annoyed with that same band's pre-previous effort "More Songs About Buildings and Food" (unbeknownst of that.) Why it's not weird? Because "Remain in Light" marks the group's almost complete departure from rock-n'-roll (although there are some huge, but bizarre, rock slices on 'The Great Curve'.)

By the way, if you ask me what my biggest favorite track on the record is, I would say: "Well, it used to be 'Crosseyed and Painless.' Now it's 'Houses in Motion' (just ... nyah! ... catchy!)" Allow me to also note that for over a year I did not care much for the last four tracks of the album. Maybe because their production sounds so thin compared to the first four tracks of the record. But hey! Get over it! Give those songs as many chances as they need. After all, they need not be overlooked. That's good stuff!

Ratings/comments:

'Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)' - ****

'Crosseyed and Painless' - ****

'The Great Curve' - ****

'Once in a Lifetime' - ****

'Houses in Motion' - ****

'Seen and Not Seen' - ***

'Listening Wind' - ***

'The Overload' - **

Stamp: "I like it."

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Send comments to Dayvenkirq (BETA) | Report this review (#613497)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For a New Wave album from 1980, REMAIN IN LIGHT actually sounds fresh in the 2010's. It's because the New Wave approach uses guitars that sound less punk and more funk, and it's near null in the keyboard/synth department. REMAIN IN LIGHT is a collective hybrid of styles from funk to Eno-esque soundscapes to their own brand of art-punk they had developed earlier in their career. The end result is what many critics have claimed is the Heads' critical peak, and the output here makes it easy to understand why.

REMAIN IN LIGHT is completely rhythm-based; it's all in establishing a groovy rhythm that is both complex and simple. The initial beat established early on in each song is rather simple and easy to dance to, but (especially on the A Side) there are melodies, instrumental themes, and such that are layered on top to give a building effect to the song without changing the rhythm in any way. But it all still revolves around the, ''if the first rhythm doesn't really sink in, then you're lost'' style of writing.

The instrumentation mostly zooms in on interlocking, contrasting guitar phrases (can't really call these things ''riffs'') and almost constant drum and percussion patterns. The actual use of keyboards are minimalist (as are most of the basslines), and the few euphoric guitar moments really are that thanks to Adrian Belew's well-timed squeals at peak moments in songs like ''The Great Curve''.

Sometimes, the band relies on false tension to grip the listener. ''Seen and Not Seen'' and ''The Overload'' have a climactic tension to them despite staying relatively constant for their respective durations. It's about keeping the listener intrigued as to what's going to happen later in the song since the rhythm is so interesting. It helps when two of the first three songs (''The Great Curve'', ''Born Under Punches'') take their last moments to interlock contrasting vocal melodies. There really isn't any obvious pop song in terms of structure other than ''Once in a Lifetime''. Songs like ''Houses in Motion'' and ''Crosseyed and Painless'' are great in terms of getting their respective choruses to incorporate so smoothly into the song that the listener is barely aware there's supposed to be a chorus happening.

REMAIN IN LIGHT has an old-fashioned Broadway style of writing to it in the way of making nearly every vocal line a memorable melody. The vocal parts that are more or less spaced out are extremely catchy and irresistible to sing along to. Try listening to ''The Great Curve'' again, and you'll have trouble deciding which harmony to take at the end of the song. Other than a slight clunker in ''Listening Wind'', REMAIN IN LIGHT really does hold true to being one of the best critically acclaimed albums in recorded history. One album worth figuring out what all the hype is about.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#838471)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
rogerthat
COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars Remain in Light is a long way off from typical musical preferences of a prog listener and moi is no exception. While I don't insist on it, I like melodic and harmonic exploration and development and some amount of structural complexity. And while I can handle any amount of rasp, grit or fry in vocals, I have never been particularly fond of spoken word/rapping styles. Remain in Light does not answer to the former qualities and does instead possess a good amount of the latter; it is essentially rhythm music. And yet I love it!

Brian Eno seems to have exerted a powerful influence over the band and set them free to improvise and experiment. And it works because what this album has going for it is loads and loads of energy. It is more an exploration of sounds than of music in the conventional Western sense. That, and I repeat myself, may not be particularly appealing to all palates but it's not for want of trying. Talking Heads commit themselves firmly to their choices and go the whole hog. Rather than half baked attempts to mimic black music, Talking Heads explore the African way with a lot of sincerity. I cannot make out much of an attempt to appropriate African influences within the European norm though it does utilise a funk base in the first half and favours meandering psychedelia in the second.

Their energy especially helps in setting up an invigorating first half of funk rock in a new light (pun intended). From opener Born Under Punches to Once in a Lifetime, there is no let up at all as the music gets progressively faster up to The Great Curve. Adrian Belew plays guitar on the last mentioned track and 'echoes' of Discipline can quite clearly be heard. But the thrust of Talking Heads is more towards expression than complexity, so the results are somewhat different while equally engaging.

Houses in Motion acts as a bridge between the contrasting approach of the (literally) two sides of this album. It slows down the tempo but what an interesting beat that is! I am piqued by how similar the rhythm is to Carnatic music (while there is no hint of any melodic exposition in the track). Did this music inspire one A R Rahman to fuse Afro with Indian a decade later? Maybe!

Thereafter, the music slows right down and the optimism too begins to fade. I have tried listening to the last three tracks standalone and, barring Listening Wind, can barely make it through. But it works beautifully as the complement to the vibrant first half as the mood gets sinister and tense. As you'd imagine, there are some similarities to Peter Gabriel's work from roughly the same time (especially on Seen and Not Seen) and, once again, King Crimson (Sheltering Sky). Overload lives up to its name and gets a bit taxing but I am all ears anyway.

The recording sounds at once crisp enough for the rocking side of the album to make a dent and also lush enough to do justice to the wide array of sounds used on this album. The only thing that doesn't particularly appeal to me is Byrne's approach to the vocals but it seems mostly appropriate for the music and I will let it pass.

This music did not get me to like hip hop and maybe it won't in future either. But even though it is not exactly right up my alley, it speaks to me. Every time I listen afresh to Once in a Lifetime, it's like getting drenched in the rains for the first time in the season. No more words to waste, five stars for this New Wave masterpiece.

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Send comments to rogerthat (BETA) | Report this review (#950427)
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Funk, Rock, New Wave, Pots-Punk, Afrobeat! and Prog?

It is strange and unusual that is seen as progressive music containing certain repetitive tendencies, but I recognize that it is.

The rhythm of Talking Heads is innovative, and David Byrne is a precursor in style. Sometimes repetition is mesmerizing, with guitars and keyboards working in parallel, as in Houses in Motion. This does not mean that the music is easy to digest, it is necessary to devote time and attention. Once in a Lifetime and Listening Wind are timeless classics, and Born Under Punches is lively and fresh.

Art music complex and bold, but without excess. The experiments of Byrne and company, together with the intelligent participation of Eno and Belew had a refined and lasting fruit.

4 + stars.

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#1019468)
Posted Thursday, August 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've never considered the New Wave and punk movements that entered the scene in the late 70s to be negative influences on rock music. Not in the least. That decade was all about diversity so those trends fit right in. (It's what the vile MTV virus would turn them into during the 80s that would forever taint their legacy.) While I was never a huge fan of many of their practitioners I did find the rebellious, non-conformist impetus they brought to the stage refreshing, especially when compared to the mind-numbing disco craze that the world at large couldn't seem to be able to get enough of. I wasn't much interested in the raw, bare-bones stuff the Ramones or the Sex Pistols were offering but adventurous groups like The Police and Elvis Costello's bunch were experimental enough to turn this progger's head from time to time. I also liked what I was hearing from Talking Heads. Their first three albums firmly established them as a creative force in popular music to be reckoned with but it was their close association with their envelope-pushing producer Brian Eno that truly set them apart from the bandwagon riders who came and went in the span of one or two LPs. Alas, with the change in decades came great upheavals in my personal life that diverted my attention from what was going on rock & roll and I lost touch with Talking Heads and many other artists/groups of their ilk. In other words, I missed out on what was contained in records like "Remain in Light" until recently when I finally got around to lending it an unbiased ear. It's quite impressive and supports my theory that the New Wave phenomenon might've become even more ground-breaking had the "let's make cute videos" disease not infected it.

They open with the solid "Born Under Punches" and immediately you're dropped into a very funky, polyrhythmic current that grooves underneath David Byrne's short, quirky vocal phrases and contrastingly smooth chorus lines. No doubt Eno had a big hand in developing Jerry Harrison's inventive synthesizer effects while the remarkable countermelodies manufacture a hypnotic aura that puts the listener in a trance. "Cross-eyed and Painless" is more along the lines of what I expected. David's exaggerated singing and the track's bratty motif are somewhat dated by now but the song avoids tedium due to the clever incidental sounds that zip in and out of the number. I didn't realize that these guys were on the cutting edge of using sampling and loop technology in their compositions but it's evident on "The Great Curve" that they weren't afraid to venture off the reservation into that realm. The tune's considerably more up-tempo pace is driven by its exploratory Latin and Afrobeat amalgamations that are presented without any electronic augmentations and it steams along like a locomotive. It's intimated that Adrian Belew contributed some of the guitar work to this album and I suspect it's his alarming solo that fries my brain cells (in a good way) on this cut. The multi-layering of the vocal patterns is exceptionally well-designed and tactfully mixed into the aural gumbo. "Once in a Lifetime" is the most recognizable song included and it deserves its notoriety. It's an incredibly unique and memorable tune that brilliantly utilizes lyrical alliteration to make a profound impact. While it's built upon the simplest of foundations it still magically avoids becoming monotonous and that's never easy to do with this type of song.

"Houses in Motion" sports a background pulse reminiscent of what Sly Stone had dabbled in seven years earlier on "Fresh" but failed to follow through on due to his debilitating addictions. Think David Bowie covering James Brown and you'll get the gist of what I'm babbling on about. The psychedelic trumpet ride is an other-worldly treat. "Seen and Not Seen" follows and it's kind of an Americanized version of the World Beat vibe Peter Gabriel had been heralding since leaving Genesis and going on his own. I love how they took unconventional rhythmic approaches and covertly blended them into the mainstream so the average Joe could thus be educated on its charms without realizing it. "Listening Wind" is another highlight of the proceedings. An Indian atmosphere permeates the mood of this number, differentiating it from the prior cuts. Byrne's flowing, river-of-consciousness lyrics and odd vocal lines are mantra-like at times while Belew's imaginative guitar work adds a palpable aura of exciting unpredictability. They close with "The Overload" wherein an eerie, cavernous drone envelopes the track and sets a macabre tone. If anything it shows that they had little interest in being "commercially viable." It also confirms that they were dedicated purveyors of soundscape constructions, following in the footsteps of prog scientists like Robert Fripp and others.

"Remain in Light" was released on October 8, 1980 and, despite its eclectic nature, climbed to #19 on the album charts. Talking Heads was continuing to flourish because the younger, up-and- coming generation that bridged the cusp between the 70s and 80s had inherited a decent respect for musicians who strove to avoid safe, pedestrian complacency and fearlessly went wherever their muse led them. In other words, prog had yet to become a dirty word in the industry. It was still evolving in ways that no one could've dreamed it would, mainly due to digital innovations and the unjaded attitudes of the participants toward what was possible, so don't lump Talking Heads in with some of the inane ensembles that infiltrated society via MTV a few years later and brought progressive thinking to a screeching halt. "Remain in Light" is a great listen that hasn't lost its curious yet alluring personality over the decades and deserves any progger's precious time. 3.8 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#1160162)
Posted Friday, April 11, 2014 | Review Permalink

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