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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 : : :


See also: .O.RANG

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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)

2.83 | 127 ratings
The Party's Over
1982
3.19 | 173 ratings
It's My Life
1984
3.85 | 256 ratings
The Colour Of Spring
1986
4.17 | 443 ratings
Spirit Of Eden
1988
3.97 | 321 ratings
Laughing Stock
1991

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

4.09 | 30 ratings
London 1986
1998

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

4.82 | 36 ratings
Live At Montreux 1986
2008

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

3.34 | 27 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
2.49 | 14 ratings
Asides Besides
2000
3.13 | 4 ratings
The Collection
2000
3.00 | 12 ratings
Missing Pieces
2001
4.09 | 3 ratings
Introducing
2003
3.10 | 2 ratings
Time it's Time
2003
5.00 | 1 ratings
Natural Order 1982 - 1991
2013

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

4.00 | 1 ratings
Today / It's So Serious
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirror Man
1982
4.00 | 4 ratings
My Foolish Friend
1983
5.00 | 1 ratings
Dum Dum Girl
1984
3.08 | 5 ratings
It's My Life
1984
3.91 | 3 ratings
Such a Shame
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Another Word
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
I Don't Believe in You
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Give It Up
1986
3.14 | 3 ratings
Living in Another World
1986
3.00 | 1 ratings
I Believe in You
1988
5.00 | 2 ratings
Life's What You Make It
1990
5.00 | 1 ratings
Ascension Day
1991

TALK TALK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 I Don't Believe in You by TALK TALK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1986
4.00 | 1 ratings

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I Don't Believe in You
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Four singles were taken from Talk Talk's incredibly mature and groovy third album The Colour of Spring. This is the last one, released in November 1986, and it was the least succesful of them in the charts (UK # 96).

To me 'I Don't Believe in You' has always been a strong album track, not necessarily an obvious highlight but a very pleasant, rarely bluesy song -- and an important one in the stylistic middle ground between the catchier hits ('Life's What You Make It' and 'Living in Another World') and the more ambient and experimental tracks ('April 5th' and 'Chameleon Day'). I found an amusing review citation: "Talk Talk fans may disagree but when I hear Hollis's brooding adenoidal dramas I feel like giving him a handkerchief. The band's textures are as haunting as ever and I don't mind the old fashioned echoes of Procol Harum and Traffic. I just wish he'd blow his nose", wrote Max Bell in Number One. Well, on some Talk Talk tracks I've had similar thoughts of Mark Hollis' voice, maybe not on this one though.

The B side offers a great taster from the band's gorgeous performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 11th, 1986. The live version of 'Does Caroline Know' sounds much better than the naiive, synth-centred album version on It's My life (1984). For the tour, Mark Hollis (vocals), Paul Webb (bass), and Lee Harris (drums) were accompanied by a guitarist, two percussionists and two keyboardists, resulting in a rich and organic sound. As often, Tim Friese-Greene did not play on stage with the band. The highly recommendable DVD of the Montreux gig was released in 2008.

 Spirit Of Eden by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.17 | 443 ratings

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Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars The transition continues: from the cerebral Glam Rock of their early days toward more experimental song sounds and structures of their previous album, their third, 1986's The Colour of Spring, with it's two major international hits, "Life's What You Make It" and "Living in Another World."

1. "The Rainbow" (9:09) stripped down, even stark, musical landscapes with very little, very subtle shifts and changes make Mark Hollis' whisper-sung lyrics and things like a swamp-blues harmonica solo and even guitar strums, organ chords, and bass drum and tom hits distinctive (almost irritating) highlights. (17.33/20)

2. "Eden" (6:34) after the bleak austerity of the previous song, the far more active foreground of organ chords, grating guitar strums, occasional loud drum play, and loud bursts of voice from singer Mark Hollis make for a sometimes jarring listening experience. Interesting and definitely unconventional. Quite an unusual and often awkward experience for the nervous system. (8.33/10)

3. "Desire" (6:57) with two and a half minutes of very quiet, subtly nuanced piano, bass, and trumpet play to open this song, the sudden burst of full-band rock loudness at 2:39 is quite harsh and unsettling. A swift return to the quiet, stark motif of the opening by 3:05. This soft, build, and outburst pattern repeats itself with the second entry into the full-band cacophony being continued to the end of the song with the participation of several other instruments in the final minute. I have to admit, this is a memorable, life-altering song. (13.25/15) This soft-starting, slow-building to a crashing climax pattern (with repetition) is what would eventually become the template for the Post Rock song.

4. "Inheritance" (5:23) an unconventional, dissonant, disorganized-sounding, multi-instrumental, polyphonic weave opens and accompanies Lee's brushed snare, Paul's spacious bass, Tim Friese-Greene's sustained harmonium chords, and Mark Hollis' discordant, almost-melody-less vocals. Interesting and challenging. (8.667/10)

5. "I Believe in You" (6:10) within the stark, subtly populated polyphony lies a fairly likable song. Mark sings over the top in a more standard Western style over this more-Western-standardly-constructed and formed song. The contribution of the Chelmsford Cathedral Choir is delightful--even heavenly. This, then, is contrasted to the DAVID SYLVIAN/HOLGER CZUKAY-like odd instrumental additions injected into the second half of the song. (8.875/10)

6. "Wealth" (6:43) an interesting return to the stark, very subtly populated and subtly-shifting songs of the album's opening. This could almost be a song played during a funeral home viewing/visitation. As sparse and somber as this song is, I do, however, happen to really it. (9/10)

Total Time: 40:56

I understand the historical significance that this remarkable collection of very unusual songs has for the evolution (progress) of rock music but, at the time, it was not the kind of music you really wanted to play at a party or to elevate your mood after work or on the weekend. Even now, as fascinating as the journey is, I really don't find myself liking the songs--wanting to get up and dance or write socially-inspiring mottos to.

B/four stars; a very interesting and, ultimately, rewarding musical listening experience that could be a challenging listen for many prog and music lovers but I highly recommend to any self-proclaimed prog lovers--especially those who have found a way into/affinity for the Post Rock world.

 Such a Shame by TALK TALK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.91 | 3 ratings

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Such a Shame
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I bought Talk Talk's second album It's My life (1984) at the age of sixteen -- having bought the excellent follower The Colour of Spring (1986) a few months earlier. Although I was at first disappointed at the synth-oriented, "plastic" and very poppy sound, I inevitably started to appreciate it for what it is (and compared to the debut The Party's Over, it is indeed a solid pop album).

The extremely catchy title track 'It's My Life' had appeared as a single one month before the album, and the second single 'Such a Shame' followed the album in March 1984. It reached Top 10 in several European countries. The song was inspired by Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man (1971), one of composer Mark Hollis' favourite books. I haven't read it, it's been translated into Finnish as well. It's about a psychiatrist who makes daily decisions based on the casting of a die. By the way, wasn't the same idea brought up in Carl Barks's Donald Duck story much earlier? The song takes the best features of disco music and combines them with the sophisticated art pop scene. The soundscape has many details to enjoy, such as Paul Webb's flexible bass playing. As a side note, last summer I showed some 80's music videos to my 12-year old daughter, and she liked 'Such a Shame'. :)

Curiously, the B side song 'Again, a Game... Again' was brand new to my ears right now. Sonically it's obviously very close to the album and most of all it reminds me of 'Call in the Night Boy' which is perhaps my least fave track on It's My Life. But this one's definitely better. More depth, more nuances, and especially as a composition per se this is more interesting. Comparable to the best of ULTRAVOX.

Now, let's forget for a while that we're in a PROG site: this is a very good pop single in all its catchiness.

 The Party's Over by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.83 | 127 ratings

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The Party's Over
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by koje7714

3 stars If I were to hear this album for the first time, I would consider this to be at most a mediocre synth-pop record. Knowing that better is coming, I started looking for signs of the future on this record but actually not find any. However, if you already like the new romance I would rather recommend Duran Duran's Rio album from about the same time as the compositions are better and some of the songs even have a bit of a progressive tone like "New Religion" and "The Chaffeur". But to return to this album, my favorites are the slightly slower songs like the title track "The Party's Over" and "Have You Heard the News?". Some consider the "Talk Talk" song to be the band's signature song but I think that honor could be given "it's my life" from the next album. As a whole, Talk Talk debut is a collection of synth-pop songs perhaps with a slightly romantic twist. The best part of the album is Mark Hollis' melancholic vocals and some atmospheric songs.

 Laughing Stock by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.97 | 321 ratings

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Laughing Stock
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Mark Hollis and stallwarts Lee Harris (drums) and Tim Friese-Greene (organ, piano, harmonium, producer) share a vision toward increasingly minimalist sound in order to express themselves musically. This is their final studio effort together.

1. "Myrrhman" (5:33) so spacious you can hear the "brush strokes" of the effects pedals' oscillations. Mark's singing is almost Louisiana bluesy. It's the incidentals and odd chord and key progressions that help keep this Venning in the Prog Rock, but really, this could be jazz--or, in the chamber strings section, modern classical--as much as Post Rock. Hypnotizing! Definitely a top three song for me.(9/10)

2. "Ascension Day" (6:00) about three times uptempo as the previous song, there's actually some rock to this one--kind of raw, 1960s WHO feel, before Mark's vocal enters. (Man! I never thought of this before: but there is a striking similarity in his singing voice to that of PETE TOWNSEND! Pitch, tone, style, though not diction.) Drums are recorded so raw and natural--probably one single mic doing the job. Lee starts out with a kind of Steve Jansen style and patters before turning pure jazz rock. Near the halfway point a discordant passage from the chamber strings section throws everything into temporary turmoil, but then we come back to some bluesy jazz before releasing the "early Who" motif to take us back to Mark's vocals. Harmonica and organ join in in the fifth minute. Interesting. Another top three. (8.75/10)

3. "After the Flood" (9:39) roving piano notes gradually reveal a pattern as organ and reverse electric guitar notes rise up from beneath over the first minute. Simple, straight time "plein air" jazz drums, bass, and soft jazz electric guitar arpeggi then rise up during the second minute. Bass and organ become the most active and interesting. By minute three Mark's singing voice has entered. This is a lot like a combination of "I Believe in You" and "Life's What You Make It"--especially as Mark's vocal becomes more impassioned. Lots of additional instruments making incidental contributions. Raw, sustained electric guitar screaming solo in the fifth and sixth minutes while piano plays gently beneath--and the drums and bass play on as if nothing is happening. I like the steadfastness of the drums--and the fellowship of the bass and organ in tandem. Lots of cluttering incidentals join in during the seventh and eighth minutes--even while Mark is singing. The final 90 seconds are left to the main rhythm section to play out in their faithful way while several more incidentalists throw their contributions into the mix--to fade. Nice song. Another top three for me. (18/20)

4. "Taphead" (7:30) odd discordance or disharmony exists right from the start between the guitar's gentle finger picking, the keys, and Mark's vocal. Even the horn and strings' contributions seem only to magnify this message: as if the waywardness and dissonance of each of the individual instruments is intended to demonstrate disunity--or perhaps the difficulty of individuals to harmonize. I like the mysterious "message"--and understand the genius expressed here--but I am not really a fan of the music. (13/15)

5. "New Grass" (9:40) piano, gently picked chords of a jazz guitar, and jazz drumming accompany Mark's frail voice from the opening moment. The lyrics, I think, are what Mark thinks are the most important element of this song (a kind of numinous spiritual vision?) as the music beneath changes very little in pacing or expansion over the course of the entire ten minutes--only one instrument joins in for some soloing (beside piano and jazz electric guitar) and only a couple others for incidental contributions. Okay song. (17/20)

6. "Runeii (4:58) extra-bare, minimal support for Mark's almost-whispered vocal. Slow tremolo picking of single guitar strings is the only constant, with incidental cymbal play, and upright piano chords in a distant background. Nothing very special here. (8/10)

Total Time: 43:20

I can defintely see why so many people revere this band/man's work after (and, for some, including) The Colour of Spring. There is such purity of spirit to this music, so much to listen to because of the clear soundscapes. There might even be interesting messages being conveyed by Mark's vocals (I just don't hear them).

B/four stars; an excellent and definitely unusual addition to any prog lover's music collection.

 The Colour Of Spring by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.85 | 256 ratings

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The Colour Of Spring
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars My introduction to the band. (My brother played this album to death!)

1. "Happiness Is Easy" (6:30) great song with multiple tracks of interest: tabla, children's chorus, Danny Thompson and his double bass, Victoria, and over course the brilliantly spacious piano chord play. (9.25/10)

2. "I Don't Believe in You" (5:02) (8.5/10)

3. "Life's What You Make It" (4:28) Catchy hooks abound but run a bit long. (9/10)

4. "April 5th" (5:51) shades of Post Rock to come. Nice and spacious--even when other layers are added. (8.75/10)

5. "Living in Another World" (6:58) drivin' New Wave with a jazzy flavor lurking beneath--with a couple additional sections making it seem like a Mark Johnson (THE THE) EP. (13.25/15)

6. "Give It Up" (5:17) a slight variation on the "Life's What You Make It" format. (8.75/10)

7. "Chameleon Day" (3:20) very interesting chamber exercise in space tolerance--Isham-esque. Excellent! (9/10)

8. "Time It's Time" (8:14) awesome BLUE NILE-like pulsing rhythm track over which Mark pulls out one of his more amazing vocal performances. With the opener and "Chameleon Day," the best song on the album on the album--my favorite. (14.5/15)

Total Time: 45:40

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of truly progressive rock music--blending together several styles from chamber to jazz to New Wave.

 The Party's Over by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.83 | 127 ratings

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The Party's Over
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Smarter than the average band.

In the ProgArchives description it says that Talk Talk started as a 'typical synthpop band'. Typical? Typical?!! No no, Hollis and crew are not typical. Spandau Ballet is typical, Duran Duran is typical, Depeche Mode and Human League are typical. But with this band, there is a higher ambition, a deeper need to make to go elsewhere, even in their early work. They clearly work on a different pace, a sadder one. Another thing that makes them part from the others is that they don't wear their catchy choruses ad nauseum and stretch a song for the sake of repeating the hooks; Pet Shop Boys should've taken notes.

Okay, they do follow the Ultravox and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (which is okay for me) but the musicianship is (like the latter two) stellar. Talk Talk does have a super singer, a super drummer and an even more super bass player (that impeccable fretless work). Pop songs? Yes, but smartly put together; the title song, Hate and Candy are clearly an emotional punch in the stomach and maybe Mirror Man is the only dud in this.

Simmons drums, Yamaha keyboards and Stingray bass are a plenty but so cleverly put together, it's not just a typical album of synthpop. It's a super start to a weird career that kept evolving to become an entire new band. Instead of listening to Rio or Hungry like the Wolf for the gazillion time, take time to know Talk Talk's synth phase, it's sadder but soothing also.

Talk Talk does not have a bad album in any phase you listen (oh and that art cover! Sublime!)

 Live At Montreux 1986 by TALK TALK album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.82 | 36 ratings

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Live At Montreux 1986
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Sublime!

Not everything is bad these quarantine times, if music is present, we are almost automatically healed. My roomate and I have been enjoying our weekends watching full concerts of bands we love, si I had the idea of watching once again this epic, sublime and beautiful Talk Talk concert, after so many years in oblivion.

Talk Talk was an amazing band, Mark Hollis' voice one of a kind, one of my favorite ever, his passing last year made me feel so fragile, but well, he retired from music ages ago, which was a pity. Though I discovered this band with their last two albums, those enigmatic, experimental and post-rock oriented ones, my love for their previous stuff grew up with the years, and now I can say I practically adore each and every of their albums.

Montreux is also known for its epic festivals, bands and artists use to offer magnificent concerts there, and with Talk Talk there was no exception. Since the very first minutes we are trapped with its legendary title-track. "Talk Talk", with a superb 8-musicians line-up, Hollis, Webb, Harris and co., offered a heartfelt, delicious and classy concert. You can tell it by people's faces, they look so happy and crushed by the music, and of course, by Hollis' presence, because his voice is so deep, his amazing vocal range covered any kind of notes, and each note transmitted a diversity of emotions.

The addition of percussion gave a more vivid sound on stage, it was a wise decision, so in moments they were a highlight, in others perfectly worked as background, reminding me a bit of Talking Heads or even Roxy Music. Paul Webb's bass sound is amazing, he also helped with backing vocals, but I would like to highlight his importance not only in this live show, but in Talk Talk's history, because without his creativity, the essence of the band would have been lost. You just have to listen to some wonderful songs (some real hits) like "Dum Dum Girl, "My Foolish Friend" or the famous "It's My Life".

While watching it once again, I felt goosebumps, to witness Mark Hollis' voice and his always passionate performances made me feel completely emotional. "Living in Another World" is one of my favorite songs from the band, but it is also one of the best moments of this Montreux show, so to watch it again and remember its greatness made me feel truly happy. I think there are no weak moments in this show, but I would say "Does Caroline Know", "Give it Up" were also highlights.

The best thing is that when you think the band gave all their hits and all their emotions, they choose the disarming "Renee" to end the show. Whoa, what a performance, truly emotional once again, and the band really professional, what they shared on stage was wonderfully adopted by the audience, but also by us, the ones who watch the show.

Beautiful, a masterpiece! Long live Talk Talk.

 Laughing Stock by TALK TALK album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.97 | 321 ratings

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Laughing Stock
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by johnobvious

1 stars I recently came across another glowing review on PA for this album and around the same time an article about Radiohead and the 20th anniversary of OK Computer. With neither album being something that I found particularly enjoyable, I figured I would listen back to back after seeing them sit on the shelf for many years to see if I might be wrong about one or both. Here I review Talk Talk.

This album is worse than I ever remembered and I thought it was bad before. It is minimalism doubled and then squared. Nothing happens, it is all very quiet and slow. There are a few louder parts but these tend to be cacophonous and shrill and leave no lasting impression. There are not a lot of drums and when they do appear, they really aren't conventional in a time keeping sense, more just to add to the morose nature of it all. The singer mostly whispers and seems to be annoyed that he is asked to sing at all. Somehow, they needed 18 musicians to make next to nothing (really, 7 different viola players?!). I can see the appeal for depressed people who might like to put on the headphones in a dark room to help affirm the fact that the world is evil, but anyone who likes their music to raise their pulse above 10 beats a minute should take a hard pass. My one-star is firm. Even another half is undeserved.

 I Believe in You by TALK TALK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
3.00 | 1 ratings

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I Believe in You
Talk Talk Crossover Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars This single contains a reduced version of "I Believe in You", atmospheric ballad voice-keyboards-drums, which in the extended version has a greater charm, due to the greater hypnoticity and the role of the strange central instrumental solo. Here is only a good song, nothing more. Rating 7.5.

Then on the B side there is the outtake " John Cope", more pop-style, more rhythmic but the phrasing on drums refers to other pieces of Spirit of Eden and does not appear particularly original, in fact it is a minor song of Talk Talk. Rating 7+.

Overall modest single, which reaches the three stars for a while, the beauty of the Talk Talk music, arrived at this point lies in the beauty of the project of the entire album, not in the individual episodes.

7+ rating. Three stars.

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

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