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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 Sprin...
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Laughing StockLaughing Stock
Polydor 1991
Audio CD$4.76
$4.45 (used)
Spirit of Eden [Vinyl LP + DVD]Spirit of Eden [Vinyl LP + DVD]
Import
EMI Import 2012
Vinyl$22.75
$25.70 (used)
Natural History:   The Very Best of Talk TalkNatural History: The Very Best of Talk Talk
Parlophone 1990
Audio CD$5.93
$0.30 (used)
Colour of SpringColour of Spring
Import · Remastered
101 DISTRIBUTION 2012
Audio CD$4.74
$4.97 (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)

2.64 | 77 ratings
The Party's Over
1982
3.08 | 103 ratings
It's My Life
1984
3.68 | 151 ratings
The Colour Of Spring
1986
4.12 | 290 ratings
Spirit Of Eden
1988
3.97 | 208 ratings
Laughing Stock
1991

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

4.09 | 20 ratings
London 1986
1998

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

4.78 | 26 ratings
Live At Montreux 1986
2008

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

3.32 | 21 ratings
Natural History: The Very Best Of Talk Talk
1990
2.17 | 4 ratings
History Revisited
1991
2.07 | 4 ratings
12x12 Original Remixes
1999
3.13 | 4 ratings
The Collection
2000
2.43 | 10 ratings
Asides Besides
2000
3.12 | 8 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)

4.09 | 2 ratings
My Foolish Friend
1983
5.00 | 1 ratings
Dum Dum Girl
1984
3.09 | 3 ratings
It's My Life
1984
5.00 | 1 ratings
Living in Another World
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
Life's What You Make It
1990

TALK TALK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 My Foolish Friend by TALK TALK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
4.09 | 2 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.

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 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.12 | 290 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Quinino
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.

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 It's My Life by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.08 | 103 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

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 Natural History: The Very Best Of Talk Talk by TALK TALK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1990
3.32 | 21 ratings

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

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

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.

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 It's My Life by TALK TALK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.09 | 3 ratings

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It's My Life
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars In my mid-teenage years TALK TALK was among my favourite bands, alongside with other contemporary artists from Dire Straits and Kate Bush to U2 and The Police - and the rapidly expanding number of 70's prog classics. Yes, I still think of my early music-listening years with fondness. And this single was probably my introduction to Talk Talk.

'It's My Life' is the energetic title track of their second album, which still represents the group's synth pop era. But it was a notable step forward from the rather hollow debut The Party's Over (1982). The songwriting - mainly by the vocalist Mark Hollis - is tight and increasingly original, and the production crisp and colourful. The soundscape in this song features very exciting, exotic nuances. The song leans heavily on the catchy chorus which does sound quite plastic, but the overall atmosphere has something more extraordinary.

The B-side has 'Does Caroline Know?', a slightly surreal and hypnotic little synth pop oddity; in a way it would be an ideal B-side song, if it was also a non-album track (compare to some MARILLION B-siders such as 'Live Forever'). But since it is included in the album too, the single does not earn the fourth star from me. Prog purists will stay away in the first place!

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 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.12 | 290 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
3.97 | 208 ratings

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Laughing Stock
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Polymorphia

5 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
3.08 | 103 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
4.12 | 290 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
4.09 | 20 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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