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TALK TALK

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Talk Talk biography
Founded in 1981 in London - Disbanded in 1991.

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 : : :

(Edited by Quinino)

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Laughing Stock [LP]Laughing Stock [LP]
Polydor 2016
$18.07
$17.99 (used)
Triple Album CollectionTriple Album Collection
Warner Music 2015
$12.18
$15.05 (used)
Natural History:   The Very Best of Talk TalkNatural History: The Very Best of Talk Talk
Parlophone 1990
$5.95
$1.49 (used)
Spirit of EdenSpirit of Eden
Remastered
Emi Import 2012
$5.64
$8.34 (used)
Colour of SpringColour of Spring
Remastered
101 DISTRIBUTION 2012
$4.92
$8.11 (used)
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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)

2.75 | 89 ratings
The Party's Over
1982
3.15 | 123 ratings
It's My Life
1984
3.74 | 186 ratings
The Colour Of Spring
1986
4.13 | 348 ratings
Spirit Of Eden
1988
3.99 | 252 ratings
Laughing Stock
1991

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

4.08 | 25 ratings
London 1986
1998

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

4.74 | 30 ratings
Live At Montreux 1986
2008

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

3.32 | 22 ratings
Natural History: The Very Best Of Talk Talk
1990
2.17 | 5 ratings
History Revisited
1991
2.95 | 2 ratings
The Very Best Of Talk Talk
1997
2.07 | 5 ratings
12x12 Original Remixes
1999
2.45 | 12 ratings
Asides Besides
2000
3.13 | 4 ratings
The Collection
2000
3.00 | 10 ratings
Missing Pieces
2001
4.09 | 3 ratings
Introducing
2003
3.10 | 2 ratings
Time it's Time
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Natural Order 1982 - 1991
2013

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Today / It's So Serious
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirror Man
1982
4.08 | 3 ratings
My Foolish Friend
1983
5.00 | 1 ratings
Dum Dum Girl
1984
3.00 | 3 ratings
It's My Life
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Such a Shame
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Another Word
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Don't Believe in You
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Give It Up
1986
4.50 | 2 ratings
Living in Another World
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Believe in You
1988
5.00 | 1 ratings
Life's What You Make It
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ascension Day
1991

TALK TALK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 It's My Life by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.15 | 123 ratings

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It's My Life
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars TALK TALK didn't set the world on fire with their debut album "The Party's Over" but it did gain them some success with a top 40 hit in the UK as well as a hit album in New Zealand. Joining the ranks of the synthpop rich New Wave scene of the MTV early 80s, Mark Hollis and his band attracted enough attention to keep the momentum going. Two years after their debut, they unleashed a sophomore followup in the form of IT'S MY LIFE which continued to ride the 80s New Wave where they fine tuned their unique sound that cross-pollinated the art rock of Roxy Music with the synthpop of bands like Duran Duran and the Human League as well as the New Romantic sounds of bands like Spandau Ballet and ABC. While the debut focused more on catchy upbeat synthesizer laced pop hooks, IT'S MY LIFE focuses more on the New Romantic strain of the New Wave 80s with those same crooning vocals that emphasized a sense of melancholy.

While more renowned in the 21st century for their innovative post-rock origins of their later albums, TALK TALK were also quite the masters of producing slickly produced New Wave pop with nine tracks of soulful catchy grooved tracks that took carefully construed compositions and added the proper elements to craft some of the best of the genre. IT'S MY LIFE exercised the approach of the debut with fretless bass, rich atmospheric keyboards, infectious melodic hooks and heartbreaking emotional tugs. This second album was a huge hit in many countries including Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany but also faired well in their native UK and just missed the Billboard Top 40 album charts. The title track and "Such A Shame" were relatively well received singles but TALK TALK ultimately failed to hit the same big time as other bands were experiencing during the New Wave 80s which is probably why they would transmogrify their sound significantly on the following "The Colour Of Spring."

IT'S MY LIFE has an uncredited performance by Mike Oldfield's bass player, Phil Spalding who sat in for Paul Webb on the track "The Last Time." The band, while still showing no clear signs of their post-rock future, do however implement a more sophisticated sound that in hind sight offers a glimpse into a more advanced musical approach. Although IT'S MY LIFE is merely credited to the team of Mark Hollis (vocals, guitar), Paul Webb (fretless bass) and Lee Harris (drums,) there are an additional seven guest musicians that play keyboards, piano, guitars, percussion and trumpet. As on the debut, the percussion is quite varied and offers a nice mix that deviated from the standard drum machine dreariness that many contemporary bands in the New Wave world were implementing. The trumpet on the title track, "Tomorrow Started" and "Renée" indicates a desire for a jazzier approach to the music and by following this route would lead to the extended jazz-rock turned post-rock of the albums "Spirit Of Eden" and "Laughing Stock."

While many New Wave fans can't stand post-rock and vice versa, i personally find both sides of TALK TALK's journey to be brilliantly composed. A telltale sign of a musical genius is the ability to transcend genre restrictions and Mark Hollis demonstrates equal brilliance on these early New Wave synthesized first pair of albums that display some of the best offerings that the subgenre cranked out. While clearly steeped in the synthesizer rich synthpop that launched their career, the baby steps for upping their game were planted on IT'S MY LIFE without sacrificing the catchy melodic hooks so abundant on "The Party's Over." I'm not really sure which of the first two TALK TALK albums win me over the most because each has its own charm but if the New Romantic aspect of the New Wave scene is your preference then you can't really go wrong with this one. This would be the last New Wave album for TALK TALK and starting with the next album, the band would opt for a more art rock approach with even more baby steps into the fledgling universe of post-rock.

 The Very Best Of Talk Talk by TALK TALK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
2.95 | 2 ratings

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The Very Best Of Talk Talk
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars British band TALK TALK released just five studio albums between 1982 and 1991 and evolved from rather catchy synth pop to extremely original and introspective art rock. There are quite a many compilations made of their relatively brief but influential career. On my review of Natural History compilation three years back, I concentrated on the music videos on the supplementary disc. The Very Best Of Talk Talk, featuring the great cover painting of James Marsh as always, had remained unadded here until now.

Some basic facts. The leaflet features lyrics, one band photo and the covers & track lists of albums 1-4. No introductory texts of any kind. Not even the band members are named except in the song credits. The disc contains 16 tracks (five of them are single versions, sadly no live versions included) with a very strong emphasis on the album The Colour of Spring (1986) from which there are five tracks out of eight. The latest album Laughing Stock is not represented at all -- what a shame -- , nor is the single-only song 'My Foolish Friend' taken in this time. The running order is not strictly chronological, although the songs from the first two albums are at the beginning, three songs from each. A good way to demonstrate how unsurprising and predictable (ie. "Greatest Hits" type) the first half of this compilation is, is simply to mention the choices from It's My Life (1984): they are the title track, 'Dum Dum Girl' and 'Such a Shame', in other words the ever-present hits instead of seldom heard album gems. Luckily the latter half of the compilation gets better in this matter. 'For What It's Worth' (1986) and 'John Cope' (1988) are interesting non- album tracks. And of course, contrasting to the pop-sensible Greatest Hits attitude, it is respectable to include more demanding songs such as 'April 5th' or three songs' worth of Spirit Of Eden (1988) stuff that marked the most radical shift into the groundbreaking, Post-Rock -like territory.

This compilation succeeds pretty well in showing the remarkable stylistic evaluation of the band, but especially concerning the absence of the artier side of their second album or live tracks, it's far from being the finest or most unpredictable compilation one could make of Talk Talk -- a thing hardly any others than the most advanced listeners would be hoping for, in the first place. Also the total absence of Laughing Stock makes me wonder. The best purpose I can think of for this compilation is to serve as an introduction to a casual listener, for example to be borrowed from a library. Although some introductory text would indeed have been useful to accompany the music.

 The Colour Of Spring by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.74 | 186 ratings

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The Colour Of Spring
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the third album by Talk Talk and it came on the heels of the successful prior album "It's My Life". Even though that album was more popular in the U.S., this album called "The Colour of Spring" was actually a bigger seller worldwide. This album shows the beginning of a shift in the music of Talk Talk towards a more lush sound and begins the transition of the band from pop to an ambient sound. You do hear a lot of that shift in this album, and it makes for some very nice sounds. To me, it is approaching the later sounds of Roxy Music, more of a prog-pop sound. The albums to come after this one are the reason why Talk Talk is in the Prog Archives site.

The first track shows off the change right off the bat. "Happiness is Easy" is not a track you would expect to hear on the radio, especially pop radio in the 80s. It has a light rhythm which has plenty of anti-pop changes throughout. It is a beautiful song with nice instrumentation and plenty to keep it interesting and mildly challenging. "I Don't Believe in You" is more of a customary sounding song with a mid tempo sound and with more of a pop sound. The next track was the single from the album, and, strangely enough, I have found their singles to be rather appealing. This is "Life's What You Make It" and it has a great piano hook which utilizes the lower keys of the piano which is a nice change in the world of pop music. Hints of ambience abound in the next track "April 5th", though the piano riff is repetitive, the other instruments weave in and around this riff and even that mildly repetitiveness becomes less and less noticeable as the other sounds take over the spotlight even drowning out the vocals, but this is all done without much increase in volume, staying in the ambient area. This is a very nice track. Even though it is not a deeply progressive song, it is not typical either and I find it quite enjoyable.

The second side starts off with what was a minor single called "Living in Another World". This one is a return to a poppy sound with an upbeat rhythm. There is a nice harmonica riff in the instrumental breaks, but other than that, there isn't much that stands out on this track. It is said that Mark Hollis was inspired by the modal jazz of Miles Davis for this song. "Give it Up" is more mid-tempo with that mysterious sound to it that made Talk Talk famous. It is a little more interesting than the previous track, but is pretty straightforward with a repetitive chorus. Next is the shortest track at just over 3 minutes. It is called "Chameleon Day", and it is far from ordinary. Instrumentation is dissonant and sparse and includes some brass instruments and vocals are subdued with a few outbursts. This is the route the band would be taking, an excellent move into ambience. The last track, "Time It's Time", is over 8 minutes and has a more prominent rhythm. This one is another very Roxy Music sounding track. There is a nice choir added in the chorus which adds an unexpected twist, but not in the tired, worn out way that you expect in pop music. They almost add some contrast to the mood of the piece and make it more interesting The verses are soft and subdues and the chorus is more intense. With the length of this song, I was hoping for more of a progressive development here, but that doesn't happen in this case.

Anyway, I enjoy this album, but I also enjoyed "It's My Life". But I was really excited to hear how they had started to add some progressive elements to this album when I heard it originally. This would continue in future albums to a much greater extent, staying in the ambient style. This album is not their best, but it is still worth listening to because there are some great sounds and music here, but you do have to sit through a few mediocre songs to get to the great ones. Not perfect, but still a favorite that I think doesn't get enough credit. 4 stars because the highlights are really good.

 The Party's Over by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.75 | 89 ratings

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The Party's Over
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While many bands started out progressive (Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Franco Battiato just to name a few) only to then devolve into simpler catchy and often cheesy pop music, there were a few artists who actually did it all the other way around. While well into the 21st century the London based TALK TALK is much more renowned as having been the first band to develop the post-rock paradigm which would become its own distinct subgenre within the rock universe, in the beginning they emerged as a New Romantic synthpop band in the New Wave era of the 1980s. This band was started by Mark Hollis after leaving The Reaction who steered the band from their early New Wave origins to the pinnacle of their arty post-rock perfection culminating on 1991's "Laughing Stock."

In the beginning Hollis (vocals, guitar, piano), Lee Harris (drums) and Paul Webb (bass) created an early 80s sound that took the art rock approach of Roxy Music, the synthpop sound of bands like the Human League and married them with the New Romantic suaveness of bands like Spandau Ballet. Their debut THE PARTY'S OVER was early 80s New Wave in full raiment with glam rock slickness, catchy pop hooks and suave almost Chris Isaak like crooning. While they wouldn't break big until 1984's "It's My Life," their debut spawned the track "Talk Talk" which was a top 20 hit in the UK. The album was a huge success in New Zealand but was very much the debut they needed to launch their career into greener pastures.

THE PARTY'S OVER lays out nine slickly produced New Romantic synthpop tracks that deliver everything i love about the early 80s New Wave era, namely over-the-top catchy pop hooks, heavy emphasis on period synth attacks, passionately delivered vocals and hairspray enriched glam charm. In fact this is one of my favorite albums that is classified as synthpop. One of the strengths of TALK TALK which set them apart from the competition including the super popular Duran Duran with whom Hollis and company would tour, is the distinguished vocal abilities of Hollis and his wide range of vox box dynamics. Likewise while many bands relied on a simple drum machine beats set on metronomic mundaneness, Lee Harris employs some excellent percussive strategies that allow the otherwise similar tracks to develop distinct personalities. But melodically speaking there are plenty of standout tracks that display various styles of playing as well.

While there are few hints of the post-rock arenas that Hollis would eventually develop in the future, on THE PARTY'S OVER i enthusiastically admit that i'm quite enamored by well played synthpop from this particular era as it exudes everything pure cheese of the early MTV days that gave a renewed life to a style of music that by all rights should've died out about the time this album was released in 1982. While many post-rockers will write this off as uninspired pop, i personally am a fan of both styles that TALK TALK embraced and find the unique evolution from their early New Wave synthpop style to an incremental change into the post-rock extremely interesting however even if TALK TALK was never to go down in the history books as a musical innovator, if taken as a period piece pop album that THE PARTY'S OVER is, i have to admit that i love the hell outa this one. Little did this band know but THE PARTY WAS JUST BEGINNING!

 It's My Life by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.15 | 123 ratings

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It's My Life
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by _Mike

4 stars Great synth pop with genuine prog credentials. This is the band's second album, and it contains a great collection of songs which are, to me, far more interesting than those on their subsequent album "The Colour of Spring". I consider that this album represents the high point in Talk Talk's output.

My only quibble with this album, apart from its slightly so-so sound quality (on both LP and CD) is that some of the songs are available in extended remixed versions which are actually much more interesting than the original tracks, because they play with not just the texture, but also the harmony.

The title song is an all-time classic. Unmissable.

 My Foolish Friend by TALK TALK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
4.08 | 3 ratings

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My Foolish Friend
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Lewian

4 stars "My Foolish Friend" is a song that you won't catch on any of their regular studio releases, although it appears on "A-sides and B-sides" and perhaps some other compilation or concert recording. The single appeared between their first album "The Party's Over" and the second one, "It's My Life".

"My Foolish Friend" is something of a pop song and the sound is early 80s aesthetic with some fairly cheesy sounding keyboards. As such this would be a rather unlikely winner for the audience of progarchives. However, it is a very well composed, pleasant and catchy song with well crafted chord progressions that towers head and shoulders over everything that was on "The Party's Over" ("It's My Life", as you probably know, has some more instances of high songwriting standard). Furthermore it's a perfect fit for Mark Hollis's voice, it has a very good bass line and the keyboarder plays tasteful good stuff, too, despite the sound.

And then there's the B-side. The song "Call in the Nightboy" is also on "It's My Life" and it is one of the hidden gems there. I think it's actually one of the most interesting songs of the band, and probably their most underrated. In later live shows they made it a long feast with strong percussion and a piano driven instrumental part that gave a strong hint at the musical potential of the band that they then explored on their later albums. On the single you get a very early different version that as instrumentation only has piano and a bit of bass. And as the A-side, this is worth having, too. It is miles away from the sound of both the surrounding albums but rather actually the first instance of them using a more natural, emotional and less electronic sound. The piano is very good and starts off somewhere between jazz and contemporary music. When the voice comes in, instrumentation is quite minimalist, and Mark's vocals are really haunting; again if you know their later stuff and Mark's solo album, you could think that this is where it all started. The song is quite dynamic with some more rhythmic and moved but also some calm elements. The song is somewhat more structured and "composed" than what we get on their last two albums and Mark's solo album, so I can even imagine that this could be the Talk Talk favourite for some who don't like their early synthipop, but want music to have some more "shape" than what they did toward the end of their lifespan.

This single certainly marks an early peak and a turning point for the band and is highly recommended (or get "My Foolish Friend" and the piano version of "Nightboy" from elsewhere). For me personally this was the entry point to the work of the band and a key discovery. I'll give it four stars because of the thin 80s sound of the A-side (later live versions were better) and because the A-side is not really the kind of thing that I'd expect progarchives readers to appreciate. Still make no mistake, this is something very special.

 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.13 | 348 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Quinino
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #6

It's the eighties and, as I can remember, everything from politics to music was noisy and LOUD.
Progressive music was at its lowest point in history, the few survivors from the carnage having to adapt to the new times and its ways. And then, out of a past of illustrious synthpop fame, comes this band with a jewel of an album replenished with music founded on delicacy and silence.
Yes, you've got it right, Silence!

Global Appraisal

Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene, the men behind this whole set, achieve to carve these intimate themes out of a block of silence, adding little-by-little fragile layers of exquisite instruments (mostly acoustic) and sound combinations.

The final result is a series of songs permeated with a feeling of frailty but at the same time extremely powerful in the expression of different flavors of sentiment; and so much so because of the haunting way the vocals are rendered.

The image that always comes to my mind while listening to this album is that of a colorful beautiful flower blossoming in the void of a deserted and barren vastness (go figure it out?).

Goodies

Sophistication yet (apparent) simplicity.

MH intense, emotional and immediately recognizable voice is the perfect vehicle for his lyrics.

The fabulous cover art is by James Marsh, a designer and illustrator of books, records and advertisements since the mid 1960s.

This record may be seen as a kind of prologue for what would come up next: three years later the final and truly work-of-art from the band would even more accentuate this minimalistic vein and, understandebly but sadly, be the last one to ever see the light of day.

 It's My Life by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.15 | 123 ratings

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It's My Life
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It's My Life is a great example of how artistry isn't exclusive to the "prog" genre. Strictly speaking, this album is synth-pop coming out the new wave movement of the early '80s. In some ways this release fits right in - lots of synth, a strong British vibe, and a catchy veneer. But while more mainstream groups like Duran Duran or Flock of Seagulls focused on hooks and melody, Talk Talk crafts songs that are more like portraits, each one lush with sound and nuance that grows with each listen.

While there are some songs here that are stronger than others, such as the excellent, noir "Renee," the entire album oozes class and depth. The keyboardists do an outstanding job of creating layers of sound, all of which has a professional polish that is devoid of some of the cartoonish qualities that plague many synth-heavy compositions. Paul Webb's bass is some of the strongest pop work I think I've ever heard; his lines are thick and heavy and engaging. Thanks to the excellent production we can hear every note of him, and of the rich keyboards. The overall effect is impeccable.

Hollis' voice adds an unique air of melancholy to the mix. He sounds very real, not playing for hooks or the dance floor, which I suppose is a compliment that applies to the entire band as well.

All in all one of the better pop oriented albums I've discovered here at Prog Archives. It's My Life is considerably more enjoyable than most of the '80's content put out by more well-known prog bands during the same time frame (such as Yes' 98015 or Genesis' Abacab). Not so highly recommended as Talk Talk's amazing later output, but still a great addition!

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 The Colour Of Spring by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.74 | 186 ratings

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The Colour Of Spring
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Lewian

5 stars As some others have mentioned, this is not a standard prog album and many prog fans may not like it. Still, this is a marvellous album and it's progressive in the truest sense, namely it is a milestone in the development of the band, and something truly original and unique for whatever could be called pop music.

It helps if catchy hit singles don't put you off but if you like them if they are well done. This album has two of them, "Life's What You Make It" and "Living in Another World". Both of these are spectacular, dynamic, unforgettable and rank among my favourite songs of all time. One major development on this album is that the former synthpop band here uses much warmer sounds, piano, hammond organ, mouth harp and more guitar with a very transparent mix that already let's you appreciate every small detail in the playing (this will become even more characteristic on the next two albums of the band). "Life's What You Make It" with its repetitive easily recognizable motif has drilled itself into my ears like hardly any other song. "Living in Another World" on the other hand is for a hit single very complex and dynamic, a perfectly crafted little masterpiece.

Apart from these the album has "Happiness Is Easy", quite relaxed and swinging with nice percussion and a surprising chorus sung by children (have a nice time comparing this to "we don't need no education"). The warm and transparent sound of the album is best appreciated in this song. "I Don't Believe In You" is a fairly slow simple song that has stood the test of time very well. "April 5th" goes more in the direction of their later more experimental releases. It's very calm and delicate and has a free psychedelic feel to it. "Give It Up", a mid tempo number, is perhaps the most conventional song on the album and not that interesting composition-wise but the instrumentation and sound are once more a winner. It's just like having beautiful unexpected small flowers popping up all around you when listening to these songs. After this follows "Chameleon Day", a stark contrast, the song that is closest to what would happen on the next album. This is an experimental song that at the time nobody could have expected from any popular band. It sounds very calm and fragile with partly atonal keyboard and woodwind and a very vulnerable and delicate voice, but finally manages to evolve into something like a melody. Haunting and fascinating. It would have been a jewel even on "Laughing Stock" or "Spirit of Eden"; here it is a total shocker (in a good way). "Time It's Time" is a more conventional song again that doesn't start off all too spectacular but comes up with a very dramatic build up of an intense chorus to bring the albums to the end on another high (although I'd have preferred if it they hadn't ended it by fading out).

This album has top notch songs, Mark Hollis's very unique intense voice, and an unexpectedly rich and warm instrumentation that makes it a pleasure from beginning to end. My brother thinks that this is the best album ever. For me it comes close (although otherwise we have quite different tastes).

 Natural History: The Very Best Of Talk Talk by TALK TALK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1990
3.32 | 22 ratings

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Natural History: The Very Best Of Talk Talk
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This compilation shows chronologically the stylistic evolution of TALK TALK from the rather plastic- sounding New Wave / synth pop period to the deeply individual and introvert art rock of their last two albums, with a slight quantitative emphasis on the strong album in between, The Colour of Spring (1986), and sadly very little from the final masterpieces. It's more or less in the unimaginative "Greatest Hits" manner, ie. includes those songs that have appeared as singles and music videos. The version I had contained a bonus DVD of almost identical track list (just missing some songs of the CD). I'm not going to speculate whether this is a good compilation and how it should have been made to better please us more demanding listeners, instead I'll be the first reviewer to deal with the videos.

Two catchy synth pop songs are taken from The party's Over (1982), 'Today' and 'Talk Talk'. The latter appears twice with no major differences in the visual expression - the poorer version could simply have been left out. Quite typically to the era, the group's image featured clean white shirts, shaved cheeks and angular, semi-angstic body language especially by vocalist Mark Hollis. I must say their contemporaries such as DURAN DURAN made much better videos right from the start.

The non-album song 'My Foolish Friend' (1983) already shows some improvement in the songwriting, and the mostly outdoor video filled with working class misery stands better multiple viewings. Then we enter the finer sounds of the 2nd album It's My Life (1984). The video for 'Such a Shame' features Hollis in black and bright orange clothes, standing in the middle of the screen against minimalistic background for the most of the time, opening his big mouth very wide in playback singing and smiling almost disturbingly. This kind of video imagery was taken further in Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer'. Also 'Dum Dum Girl' has two takes, very similar to each other (now long-haired, John Lennon -looking Hollis singing to a microphone in an open sunny field). The first take is more carefree with even some improvising on the real live vocal parts, and the second one features some skillful picture editing. Funny but I actually like both of them without much questioning the need for both. 'It's My Life' is a nice video consisting mostly of wild animals and some minor graphics.

Also the nocturnal video of 'Life's What You Make It' is filled with nature; Hollis playing piano - there are lots of close-ups of keys covered with tiny mist drops or centipedes walking on them. In fact this is one of my favourite music videos from my early youth, and also 'Living in Another World' had remained quite well in my memory. The basic idea is Mark Hollis playing the grand piano and the other band members pushing themselves towards him against a strong wind, or hanging on a floating part of the instrument. The shadowy camera work is of high artistic quality.

'Give it Up' is taken from Live at Montreux 1986. Good stuff! 'I Believe in You' (from Spirit of Eden, 1988) ends the DVD mostly with multilayered images of Hollis; minimalistic but stylish.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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