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TALK TALK

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Talk Talk biography
Formed in 1981 by muti-instrumentalist Mark Hollis, TALK TALK began as a fairly typical 80s synth pop band. Joined by producer and keyboardist Tim Friese-Greene in 1983, the band began to experiment with jazz and classical influences, at times evoking late-60's psychedelic explorers CAN and PINK FLOYD. With a cut-and-paste style of production, Hollis and Friese-Green utilized recordings of many and diverse guest musicians to create atmospheric compositions of startling uniqueness. By the early 90s, the band's internal pressures and total lack of record company support (added to their refusal to do interviews, make videos, or even tour regularly) led Hollis to venture out on his own, where he continues to explore music in its most abstract and minimalist forms.

Although such releases as 1982's "The Party's Over" and 1984's "It's My Life" generated significant interest and some success, TALK TALK began to evolve past the synth-pop with "The Colour of Spring" in 1986, which contained tantalizing tastes of what was to come. The defining sound finally emerged on their subsequent two releases, "Spirit of Eden" (1988) and "Laughing Stock" (1991). These albums are truly unique statements; seemingly free-form and abstract, the songs reveal themselves to be delicately constructed soundscapes where each note - or even each moment of silence - is necessary and powerfully emotional. Instruments and vocals weave in and out of the mix, sometimes contributing only one quiet sound before disappearing, sometimes building to a wrenching climax.

Although by no means standard prog-rock fare, TALK TALK (at their best) shares with the greats of the genre an attitude of instrumental exploration and willingness to abandon traditional structures. Those looking for flights of technical dexterity a la Wakeman, McLaughlin, Emerson et cetera will be disappointed, but those who prize the quieter, shifting abstract textures of "Starless"-era KING CRIMSON may feel right at home. Seldom has music been as artistic and conceptual and yet at the same time so heartfelt and real. No matter what your musical preferences, the last two albums are unlike anything else ever recorded and are highly recommended to anyone who values musical exploration.

: : : James Lee, UNITED STATES : : :

DISCOGRAPHY (albums)
1982 The Party's Over
1984 It's My Life
1986 The Colour of Spring
1988 Spirit of Eden
1991 Laughing Stock
1998 London 1986
2...
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Laughing StockLaughing Stock
Polydor / Umgd 1991
Audio CD$5.20
$0.81 (used)
Spirit of EdenSpirit of Eden
Import
EMI Import 2012
Vinyl$23.12
$28.40 (used)
Colour of SpringColour of Spring
Import
EMI Import 2012
Vinyl$19.28
$10.83 (used)
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TALK TALK shows & tickets


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TALK TALK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TALK TALK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.54 | 54 ratings
The Party's Over
1982
2.97 | 74 ratings
It's My Life
1984
3.63 | 117 ratings
The Colour Of Spring
1986
4.09 | 228 ratings
Spirit Of Eden
1988
3.96 | 159 ratings
Laughing Stock
1991

TALK TALK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 15 ratings
London 1986
1998

TALK TALK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.75 | 23 ratings
Live At Montreux 1986
2008

TALK TALK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 17 ratings
Natural History: The Very Best Of Talk Talk
1990
2.09 | 3 ratings
History Revisited
1991
2.07 | 4 ratings
12x12 Original Remixes
1999
3.09 | 3 ratings
The Collection
2000
2.43 | 10 ratings
Asides Besides
2000
3.13 | 7 ratings
Missing Pieces
2001
4.09 | 3 ratings
Introducing
2003
3.10 | 2 ratings
Time it's Time
2003

TALK TALK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Dum Dum Girl
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Life's What You Make It
1990

TALK TALK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.09 | 228 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by sinslice

5 stars Rage on Omnipotent

Bizarre, not easy to digest, absolutely original and artistically essential.

Every time I hear the firsts sounds and minimalist chords of The Rainbow after a while , I confirm again that Spirit of Eden is an atypical well polished gem. Through the suite we find a lyrical and musical journey reminiscent of Eden, masterfully composed and orchestrated throughout its 22 minutes. Starting with the delicacy and restraint of The Rainbow and closing with the unusual and incomparable power of Desire. Indeed, the lyric are ambiguous and difficult to decipher, consistent with experiment. The other three songs also contain a hidden meaning in relation to the loss freedom in Eden.

The edition of the album was serious legal disputes with EMI, which sued the band to produce an ' uncommercial ', which was lost. The group did not tour for presentation and EMI edited 'I Believe in You" as single without permission, and with little success because the song is in line with the rest.

I welcome the great boldness of the band, with Hollis and Freise -Greene as the main protagonists and songwriters. Surely they knew that only time would show the high artistic value of the work, and that's what happened.

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 Laughing Stock by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.96 | 159 ratings

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Laughing Stock
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Polymorphia

4 stars With the release of Spirit of Eden, Talk Talk had effectively launched themselves into controversy? was Spirit of Eden a pretentious glorification of noodling or a sonically enthralling masterpiece? With critical ratings ranging all over the board, any band might have tried to tame the beast and create something more accessible, more encompassing of their previous works? any band might have lost confidence in their vision. The release of Laughing Stock showed that the band did not waver. Laughing Stock presents a darker, more confident addition to Talk Talk's catalog.

The opener "Myrrhman" is a difficult listen for some. The arrhythmic elements may seem like they have no rhyme or reason. But it is the creation of an illusion that the band never breaks throughout the entire album? an illusion of its own environment, its own setting. Throughout the album, there are moments of what some might call "noodling." As engineer Phill Brown stated, the album was "recorded by chance, accident, and hours of trying every possible overdub idea." But, by entertaining the illusion of "Myrrhman," the entire album becomes a place and time that is a thrill to explore. The next two tracks reflect the leveled tone retained from Spirit of Eden. "I reckon luck sees us the same/ I reckon love deals us the same" sings frontman Mark Hollis on "Ascension Day." This track along with "After the Flood" reduces the world of Laughing Stock to a flat plane. The jarring, lonely "Taphead" presents the album's lowest moment. The harmonica and trumpet trade-off is like a scoff at Spirit of Eden opener "Rainbow." "Taphead" is an abyss, leaving the listener in the dark as to what could possibly come next. The next track, "New Grass" stands the most emotionally-captivating the album, the glorious release. Gorgeous chorales are played on pipe organ and piano out of time over a groove that won't let you rest. Strings crescendo over major chords and a joyous tambourine groove. The track returns the listener to the ambiguity of the first half of the album and that ambiguity is cemented by the sparse closer "Runeii." Through this final track, the album lets the listener back down gently and reconciles its imaginary setting with reality.

By chance, accident, and hours of trying every possible overdub, Talk Talk have created an excellent album, and improvement upon Spirit of Eden, if one is willing to let it create its illusion. 4.5 out of 5.

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 It's My Life by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.97 | 74 ratings

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It's My Life
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The culmination of Talk Talk's synthpop period, It's My Life doesn't offer many hints of the intriguing, genre-defining post-rock experiments to come, though they're there if you know where to look (pay particular attention to Henry Lowther's contributions on trumpet, especially on Tomorrow Started, for instance). What it does accomplish, though, is establishing a melancholy mood that isn't interrupted by anything resembling an upbeat track. Even the title track, which was a reasonably successful single, is as much a lament as a celebration in its tone. A charming album, though it's much stronger if you remember to approach it like it is its own thing rather than expecting something along the lines of Laughing Stock.

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 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.09 | 228 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

5 stars Grace, minimalistic clarity, surprising grandeur and impressionistic disintegration of structure haunts the unique ambience of Spirit of Eden. A slow, dreamlike and meandering journey that elegantly and deliberately has nestled its way to being a milestone of my musical life.

There's an often present vibrating undertone of an aimless and rather bleak chamber orchestra, or perhaps a rugged and world-weary street ensemble topped off with brass and wood-wind that moans and probes underneath the main structures. Now and then it worms its way out onto the surface as beautifully enriching timbre diversity, a veritable panorama of searching sounds. A choppy and seemingly disconnected baseline of musical driftwood that somehow manages to assemble into an organic, but modern dynamic framework. At times sounds appear, disappear and assemble almost sub-consciously, reaching forceful climaxes in the otherwise tiptoeing and careful move forwards. It's like raindrops on a window, finding their way down, occasionally combining into larger droplets that increase in speed and volume only to dissolve in a dramatic splash in the end. Or perhaps it's like seemingly careless brush-strokes that eventually resolve in a fleeting, but definite, picture.

There are touches of jazz, blues, classical and slight, but non-abrasive, "avant" tendencies. However, what dominates is this marked pop sensibility in the vocal melodies and main motifs of the songs. You can still feel where Talk Talk were coming from. It might be a bit obtuse and slightly cryptic on the surface, but still smoothly and emotionally accessible with enough room for a handful of hooks along the way. So there's that, and an intimately fractured form of rather melodic and expressive ambience, that makes its way through the vast and beautiful emptiness between the instrumentation. There's so much room, so much pause for afterthought and introspection, that the sudden outbursts of crashing, ringing or rumbling guitars and busily explosive percussion stand out in their immensity.

The drums usually present a simple and understated punchy beat whereupon vocalist Mark Hollis can stroke his words carefully and up-close in a melancholy, but touching way. Comforting, soft, textural and spaciously melodic organ and piano lift the weariness and subdued quietude into more hopeful territories, sometimes accompanied by a few guitar strums. A fluttering and clear keyboard fantasy suddenly shimmer discreetly in the background. The more outreaching, but still predominantly tentative, sounds of the guitar gives the proceedings an earthier and more eager flair in their stark, ringing clarity. It can make the music feel desolate at times, but busy and raucously desperate when it joins in with a great deal of fire in the soaring crescendos. At times, you can also find a simmering intensity creeping in, a more pulsing and energetic backdrop, but with maintained clarity and disciplined energy.

It's an irresistible combination of intimate, inviting emotional exploration and alternately sweeping and cryptic musical gestures. Few albums put me right in the heart of it, but Spirit of Eden does, by the power of its vulnerability. It's like you're standing right in its very centre, completely enveloped, and astutely perceptive to every change. The usual defences just turn off. Silence and space makes everything said and heard more acute and piercing. Very, very naked.

One of my favourite albums

5 stars.

//LinusW

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 London 1986 by TALK TALK album cover Live, 1998
4.08 | 15 ratings

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London 1986
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars The progression of the band started.

Until then TalkTalk had not produced anything similar or close to this wonderful musical expression, recognizing The Colour of Spring as a good and competent album. Tomorrow Started went from being a song dominated by synth pop sound to be an absolute classic of the group, after this performance captured on this live album. The introduction and piano performance in the whole song, the prominent and distinctive Webb´s bass and the excellent, emotional and personal voice of Hollis, give an epic feel amazing. It became one of my favorite songs of the band and of the decade.

Does Caroline Know?, It's My Life, Renée and Such A Shame are other pearls masterfully executed here, much more interesting than the studio versions.

Unfortunately, there is no official live album of the post, but "London 1986" is an outstanding legacy of the band.

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 Laughing Stock by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.96 | 159 ratings

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Laughing Stock
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars As meritorious as were their ideas and, one may assume, their motives, TALK TALK crested rather timidly with this final release. The improvement rests chiefly in the presence of 2 masterful cuts, "After the Flood" and "New Grass", both profound in melancholy, with arrestingly soulful vocals, organs, and droning guitars. "New Grass" is nothing short of a minimalist triumph engendered by a deceptively lightweight riff. But elsewhere this is again mostly a vortex of void. However, "Ascension Day" is Hollis' most commendable stab a more grungy gritty feel that fell flat on "Spirit of Eden", and "Runeii" is a decent purely ambient piece on which to end. The album title must be ironic, as there is little to laugh with or at here, but unfortunately therein lies the only consistent feature of yet another intriguing project in which the echo is more memorable than its original note.

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 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.09 | 228 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars The transformation that began with "The Colour of Spring" attains its objective on "Spirit of Eden". Conventional song structures are eschewed in favor of atmospheric extended explorations. Still, the angst ridden choruses achieve continuity with prior releases, particularly well on the only standout track "Eden", and quite poorly on its successor "Desire". From then on it fails to focus interest in any meaningful manner. The opener "The Rainbow" is the only other highlight, with its languid BRUCE COCKBURN styled guitars ("Stealing Fire" era). Ambient music should leave one feeling more than just an awareness that something has ended but we forgot what it was. Thank goodness for the apple.

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 The Colour Of Spring by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.63 | 117 ratings

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The Colour Of Spring
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Whereas a list of prog bands who ultimately veered into overt commercial territory would fill several screens, the analogous compendium of popular bands abandoning commercial aspirations would fit on the tip of my pinkie. In fact I would venture to say that most of us have simply assumed without a first or second thought that this never even happens. That is, unless we are fortunate enough to encounter Exhibit A, the enigmatic consummate 1980s new wave group TALK TALK.

Crafters of the catchy but annoying hit "It's My Life" several years earlier, with "The Colour of Spring" TALK TALK began to transition to an ambient experimental style that they would fully adopt on the following 2 albums. This album is more sophisticated pop than crossover prog, with some of the tired qualities of earlier efforts infusing "Life's What You Make it" and "Give it Up". On the other hand, "I don't Believe in You" and "Living in Another World" generate acoustically layered atmospheres, with stimulating use of guitars and harmonica, and less emphasis on new wave rhythms. But it's really "April 5th" that instantiates the mellifluous mannerisms of this group's later work and heightens the techniques already being plied by DAVID SYLVIAN. Delicate but not withering, the fusion of keys, winds, vocals, and guitars is mesmerizing. One might argue that its effect here is more pronounced simply because of its more bouncy neighbours.

Interim works like this can only be evaluated after the fact, but often become my favorite output by the artist. CLANNAD's "Macalla", ELOY's "Dawn", STRAWBS' "Bursting at the Seams", RENAISSANCE's "A Song for All Seasons", MIKE OLDFIELD's "QE2", HORSLIPS' "The Book of Invasions", MOSTLY AUTUMN's "The Last Bright Light", are among the multitudes. While I don't yet possess the same famiart=ity with the TALK TALK catalogue, the question is always the same...does the turnabout mark the beginning of the end or the breakthrough to new territories? For the answer, let's talk talk later.

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 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.09 | 228 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Apparently I'm not the only Proghead somewhat blindsided by the inclusion of Talk Talk in these archives. Once upon a time I briefly owned a vinyl copy of their 1982 debut album "The Party's Over", but I dismissed the band long ago as a bunch of post-ROXY MUSIC New Romantic techno-poseurs with more fashion sense than genuine musical style.

That was before the group decided to bite the hand that was feeding them by completely recalibrating their aesthetic compass, in willful defiance of marketplace wisdom and against the better judgment of the bean-counters at EMI Records. Their 1986 album "The Colour of Spring" hinted at the changes ahead, but "Spirit of Eden" was the first, full blossoming of that new musical seed, and the choice of title was appropriate: this was as close to paradise as popular music could get in 1988.

Until my own recent, belated exposure to the album (thanks in large part to its high score on these pages) I always thought DAVID SYLVIAN had patented the formula for this sort of dreamlike ambient pop music. But he obviously wasn't the only artist drawing inspiration from the same deep well in an otherwise shallow musical decade, paving the way for other forward-thinking bands looking to jump off the gravy train (see RADIOHEAD for a more recent example).

The music itself is hard to pin down. The entire album drifts, pulses, dissolves, and flows together without any familiar sense of resolution or structure, interrupted by sporadic, semi-conscious brush strokes of guitar and percussion, all of it held together by the evocative singing of Mark Hollis. "Epic" was how my wife described it during a recent road trip, before ejecting the CD and putting on some Jackson Browne, with a clear sense of relief.

It's hard to resist awarding the album an immediate five stars, especially when considering the scarcity of worthwhile music in the 1980s. A quarter-century later it still sounds ahead of the times, and is still attracting new fans, yours truly included.

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 Asides Besides  by TALK TALK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2000
2.43 | 10 ratings

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Asides Besides
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The cover art says it all: a goose, a noose, a golden egg. This was a band being groomed for mainstream success, with the look, the sound, and the limited shelf-life of true Top-40 superstars. They had a couple of hits tailor-made for the mid-1980s, but then rebelled against their handlers in order to follow a more private muse, showing enough poise and sensitivity to eventually earn them a page on a web site devoted to the arcane, unfashionable backwaters of Progressive Rock.

The two distinct faces of that split personality are exploited in this equally schizoid compilation, with predictably mixed results. Disc One collects a majority of the band's extended singles and twelve-inch dance mixes (currently listed in the Progarchives database as twelve-foot mixes, heaven help us), while Disc Two is a grab bag of B-side demos and leftovers.

The full package traces a chronological arc around both ends of the band's doppelgänger career. But to an art-rock snob like me only the last half-dozen cuts off the second CD have any real merit, and to get there you'll have to wade through at least a full disc's worth of music designed to send metropolitan party animals into a Dionysian frenzy.

The band's evolution can almost be plotted by the sound of their drumming, from the 4/4 thud of their 1982 debut to the mature refinement of later epiphanies. It's a shame the track selection here is skewed more toward the former, but it really couldn't be helped: these guys were late bloomers, and their good stuff didn't exactly lend itself to the singles market.

I have enormous respect for Talk Talk, and their decision to commit retail suicide for the sake of higher art. That sort of integrity is rare enough in the real world, and almost nonexistent in the music industry. But on the evidence presented here it's a shame they didn't pull that commercial plug a little sooner.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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