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TALKING HEADS

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Talking Heads biography
David Byrne ( Guitarist,vocalist), Chris Frantz ( drummer) and bassist Tina Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 70's and from there moved to New York to start making music around 1974. The seminal New York punk club the CBGB from 1975 became their local stamping ground playing alongside The Ramones, Blondie, B-52's to name but a few.Jerry Harrison ( Keyboards) joined the band in 1976. Their first album Talking Heads:77 was released in 1977 signed to the innovative label, Sire records.Totally unique sounding and regarded by most as pop/art rock. In 1978 their sophomore release, More Songs About Buildings & Food was produced in conjunction with Brian Eno and had a slightly harder edge and seriousness to their sound.More experimentation to their sound incorporating a much wider merging of electronic and accoustic instruments. Eno again produced their third album,Fear Of Music which some regard as the first art progressive sounding release, loads of rhythm section, quirky time signatures, the songs I Zimbra and Life During Wartime taking the band in a whole new direction.

The 80's earmarked their most ambitious album to date, Remain In Light, again Brian Eno in attendance as was Adrian Belew and Bernie Worrell. Tina Weymouth's bass became even more prominant with the new percussive sound element to the band. Due to the nature of the sound, their live shows involved more session players, backing vocalists etc. David Byrne always at the fore front being a larger than life figure, whacky stage costumes, reminiscent of a certain Peter Gabriel from the 70's. This album in particular is regarded by highly acclaimed critics to be one of the defining albums of the 20th century and their most progressive.
Their music continued with strong rhythm and frenzied guitars for the follow up release Speaking in Tongues, which garnered more praise from the public but also earmarked a more commercial direction too. This being possibly their most successful record released.Little Creatures their next studio release was in 1985 and again it was a solid album, but indications at this stage hinted that Talking Heads had indeed reached their peak a couple of years earlier. Byrne's eccentricities,Harrison's distracting technical endeavors and production skills elsewhere together with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz ( Husband & Wife) forming their successful side project The Tom Tom Club, heralded a change in directions. Byrne was getting more involv...
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The Best of Talking HeadsThe Best of Talking Heads
Rhino 2004
Audio CD$3.21
$2.50 (used)
Remain in LightRemain in Light
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$2.48
$0.49 (used)
Stop Making Sense: Special New Edition (1984 Film)Stop Making Sense: Special New Edition (1984 Film)
Extra tracks · Remastered · Special Edition · Soundtrack
Warner Off Roster 1999
Audio CD$9.87
$6.84 (used)
Speaking in TonguesSpeaking in Tongues
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$3.22
$0.98 (used)
Talking Heads '77Talking Heads '77
Warner Bros / Wea 1990
Audio CD$4.34
$3.84 (used)
Fear of MusicFear of Music
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$3.25
$2.52 (used)
TALKING HEADS - Popular Favorites 1976-1992/Sand In the VaselineTALKING HEADS - Popular Favorites 1976-1992/Sand In the Vaseline
Warner Off Roster 1992
Audio CD$22.91
$0.60 (used)
The Name of This Band is Talking HeadsThe Name of This Band is Talking Heads
Rhino 2004
Audio CD$5.10
$4.47 (used)
More Songs About Buildings & FoodMore Songs About Buildings & Food
Warner Bros / Wea 1990
Audio CD$3.33
$2.58 (used)
Little CreaturesLittle Creatures
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$5.48
$0.94 (used)
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TALKING HEADS shows & tickets


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TALKING HEADS discography


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

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

3.67 | 60 ratings
Talking Heads: 77
1977
3.73 | 55 ratings
More Songs About Building And Food
1978
3.76 | 66 ratings
Fear Of Music
1979
4.15 | 128 ratings
Remain In Light
1980
3.72 | 47 ratings
Speaking In Tongues
1983
3.42 | 40 ratings
Little Creatures
1985
2.58 | 29 ratings
True Stories
1986
2.18 | 35 ratings
Naked
1988
1.98 | 9 ratings
No Talking Just Head (The Heads)
1996

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

4.08 | 21 ratings
The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
1982
3.26 | 27 ratings
Stop Making Sense
1984

TALKING HEADS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.55 | 18 ratings
Stop Making Sense
1984
3.00 | 1 ratings
Storytelling Giant
1988
3.54 | 3 ratings
Chronology
2011

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

3.54 | 8 ratings
Sand In The Vaseline
1992

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

TALKING HEADS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.67 | 60 ratings

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Talking Heads: 77
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by arcane-beautiful

5 stars During the punk explosion of the late 70s, some bands (who were considered to be part of the punk movement) started to veer away from the traditional punk sound. Now, Talking Heads weren't really a punk band, but they came with the territory. But, in all fairness, these guys are probably the kings and possible creators of the original new wave sound. In fact, while listening to this album, I was surprised that this album was released in 1977, because it really does sound ahead of its time.

Trying to describe the bands sound can be rather difficult, because at their time, they were pretty unique and where more of an influence to others. The best way I can describe them is that they where the more positive side of the new wave scene, tackling pop more than the Gothic or punk sides of the new wave scene. The band where art school students, so need I say anymore...

The bands real highlight and selling point probably has to come from the vocals of David Byrne. From going to a nice falsetto, to a normal tenor to shrieking, he really was a pioneer to most vocalists at the time, and very much showed off that traditional singers could take a back seat to David's experimental expressive vocals, which showed more popularity in the years to come.

The opening track "Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town," is a briliant track to introduce the sound of the band. Mixing art rock with poppy melodies, David's voice flows through the track like a kite in a tornado.

"Who Is It?" is the albums shortest song, but it still does leave quite an impression. A fast paced song with some jutty instrumental passages, the song is carried by David's schizophrenic vocals.

The band really show of their instrumental prowess in "The Book I Read." With some pretty interesting sections throughout, the songs main riff is the real hook line with a pretty odd sax sounding synth solo appearing now and then.

One of my personal favorite tracks on the album has to be "Don't Worry About The Government." With some rather interesting and humorous lyrics, the song is made more interested by the interesting changes throughout.

The lead single and one of the bands biggest tracks "Psycho Killer" is one of the bands best and most catchiest songs. Not only carrying a catchy sing along chorus, the track also shows off the power and versatility of David's vocals. The song is a classic, and the chorus will be stuck in your head for the rest of your life.

The album's closing track "Pulled Up" is a song which really shows off the brilliant vocals from David, with some very high notes being tackled with ease. The songs hook is very catchy and will stick in your head for a bit.

In conclusion, this album is one brilliant debut and pretty much a classic album. Now the band would go on to do more interesting and greater things, but these guys really took the world by the balls. Packed full of tunes and an interesting listen to say the least.

8.6/10

Genres: New Wave, Art Rock, Pop Rock, Progressive Rock, Art Punk

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 1977

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 Remain In Light by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.15 | 128 ratings

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Remain In Light
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Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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 Remain In Light by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.15 | 128 ratings

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Review by sinslice

4 stars Funk, Rock, New Wave, Pots-Punk, Afrobeat! and Prog?

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

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

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

4 + stars.

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 Remain In Light by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.15 | 128 ratings

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Remain In Light
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by rogerthat

5 stars Remain in Light is a long way off from typical musical preferences of a prog listener and moi is no exception. While I don't insist on it, I like melodic and harmonic exploration and development and some amount of structural complexity. And while I can handle any amount of rasp, grit or fry in vocals, I have never been particularly fond of spoken word/rapping styles. Remain in Light does not answer to the former qualities and does instead possess a good amount of the latter; it is essentially rhythm music. And yet I love it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Chronology by TALKING HEADS album cover DVD/Video, 2011
3.54 | 3 ratings

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Chronology
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Crisp, informative, rocking, no rubbish

"A magical marriage of diametric poles - abandon and inhibition, freedom and impingement unto paralysis, lush growth and foregone atrophy, life and death, male and female...always all in the same irrevocably human body." -Lester Bangs

While their music may be thought provoking (thanks Lester), there is no need to over-think this DVD. This release is an outstanding document of the band in their prime embryonic years. Direct and to-the-point with none of the annoying typical fluff structure of many a documentary these days. You get vintage live cuts and television appearances from the mid 70s to early 80s, with the emphasis on early, vital material. This is the genesis of Talking Heads, the time for which they should be revered, not the later stuff which crossed over into the mainstream. This was the band at their artiest and most edgy.

The bonus features are formidable for a change. You get a 35 minute South Bank Show episode from 1979 which is so different than the band documentaries of today. With no narration or sensationalist crap, we get the band jamming on really incredible, fresh music interspersed with the members telling their story. And this isn't just members recalling their bio again. Instead they sit and wax poetic about art and philosophy, they provide a truly intimate and rare look at the inner workings of a band not yet over-the-hill as a truly creative force. We get an authentic sense of their youth and unguarded personality, and unintentionally perhaps we get a case made for introversion and actually thinking before one opens one's mouth.

So much of what passes for popular music today consists of kids who think their rehash is almost as cool as they are personally, or, over-the-hill farts trying to squeeze a few more bucks peddling rock star myths. The Talking Heads:Chronology is what rock documentary should be. Finding a band with a story worth covering, presenting them at their artistic peak with great live footage and period interview segments, and without "critics" babbling over it. In this case such a documentary has met a band who actually have something worthwhile to say. No "rebels without a clue" this time around.

The deluxe edition comes in a nice book form with a long, interesting Lester Bangs piece. If you're a fan or just someone who wants to learn about great rock music, swoop on this release without further delay.

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 Remain In Light by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.15 | 128 ratings

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Remain In Light
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For a New Wave album from 1980, REMAIN IN LIGHT actually sounds fresh in the 2010's. It's because the New Wave approach uses guitars that sound less punk and more funk, and it's near null in the keyboard/synth department. REMAIN IN LIGHT is a collective hybrid of styles from funk to Eno-esque soundscapes to their own brand of art-punk they had developed earlier in their career. The end result is what many critics have claimed is the Heads' critical peak, and the output here makes it easy to understand why.

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

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

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

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

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 Chronology by TALKING HEADS album cover DVD/Video, 2011
3.54 | 3 ratings

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Chronology
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

This is a compilation of various concert footage and a few TV show appearances throughout their prime from 73 until 83. You'll find some really early CBGB club B&W footage of their infancy days, plus some of theior classioc tracks featured in various TV shows like Saturday Night Live or David Letterman Talk Show, or still yet their Montreux Jazz Festival or veven their RnR HoF induction. Of most interest for the progheads is their extended line-up including the excellent Crosseyed and Painless with Adrian Belew in the line-up. As for this writer, I find that only the last third of the DVD is really of interest (starting with Take Me To The River), including the excellent Burning Down The House, which still featured that special lineup (albeit slightly abridged: they were only 6) on Letterman. As for the lengthy booklet, it's a related text, that doesn't really relate to the band's history. Rather it appears like a loosely related essay that I couldn't managed to read past the second page, just browsing the pictures.

Rather interesting a product, but progheads are advised to find and check the awesome Stop Making Sense concedrt and movie, even if Belew had left the band for King Crimson by then.

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 Storytelling Giant by TALKING HEADS album cover DVD/Video, 1988
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Storytelling Giant
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Probably one of the main factors that made Talking Heads a commercial success was the videos. Back when eMTyV actually played videos this got them a lot more exposure than they might ordinarily have had. You won't find their most progressive material on this tape. Apparently there was a DVD version with extra tracks but it appears to be out of print but VHS copies are still to be had.

It is a set of ten videos in non-chronological order mixed with video segments of real people telling stories unrelated to the songs but that seem to relate to the songs that they precede or follow for glue. The people were shot in front of green screen so they could put them in front of odd backgrounds. It doesn't say so on the box but most of the stories seem to be of dreams they had.

The music video set spans ten years of the band, so nothing from their first three albums or the final one. If you do consider these in chronological order they started out a little cheesy (Toni Basil of Mickey fame collaborated on the directing and choreography) on the two from Remain In Light, they did get a little more sophisticated with the videos for their next two albums. The most recent two are basically modification of two scenes/songs from the True Stories music video movie thingy. Once In A Lifetime, weird, just weird, same as it ever was. In Wild Wild Life the band plays dress up as various music talent show contestants. Stay Up Late has the band in jump suits messing around acting like babies while hanging from wires. Crosseyed And Painless is devoid of band members doing a sort of ghetto story and dance thing with a couple of black guys and a hot Puerto Rican chick (I hope none of that was offensive, it's just the facts). Burning Down The House is rather hard to explain, the band performing, replaced by a substitute band in the same outfits, images projected on the side of a house including flames, but no houses actually being burnt, whaaa???? And She Was is an animation video where we never get to actually see any of her but her feet and hands. What was she was floating away. This Must Be The Place has members of the expanded band (the one for the Stop Making Sense tour) watching fake home movies before going down in the basement to carry on performing the song. The Lady Don't Mind is a mostly black and white affair with weird washes of colored things. Partly performance video, the best parts are the bits where one of the band is standing still while the other three spin around while standing in place on the floor. Love For Sale is sort of a dissection of TV commercials with scenes from real and fake ones. Road To Nowhere makes a nice wrap up for the set and a bookend to Once In A Lifetime. Life in a nutshell.

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 Fear Of Music by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.76 | 66 ratings

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Fear Of Music
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by smartpatrol

5 stars In 1980, Talking Heads were on the rise. With two fairly successful albums already out, they released thier third album, "Fear of Music". It was even more creative and innovative than the last album, and is also thier second with producer Brain Eno. The album begins with "I Zimbra", which is heavily infulenced by African music, and foreshadows thier next album, "Remain in Light", which is just full of african-inspired rhythms. The rest of the album is full of extremely quirky, creative, smart, and well written songs. Some songs, like "Cities", and "Life During Wartime", are very funky, and "Memories Can't Wait"'s intro sounds like something you'd hear from an Alternative rock band in the 90s. The majority of the songs take place in dystopian worlds/societies, with increasing panic and war. The album ends with "Electric Guitar", where the characters in the song finally make a move, start a revolution, and then the spooky and somewhat ambient "Drugs". Really, every song on here is a masterpiece. Go out and buy it, now! It's a masterpiece. 5/5

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 Fear Of Music by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.76 | 66 ratings

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Fear Of Music
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Dayvenkirq

4 stars I really don't know how long it would take an album to grow completely on me, and I don't want that to be the reason why I would never write a review. This is why the response you are reading right now is actually its most recent update. At this point the most important thing you need to know is that this album deserves a 4.5, not a 4.

There are some weaknesses visible to me. For about a week I used to think of this album as the most adequate of the first four efforts by this group. I really don't know how absent-minded I was when I thought that. It's not that adequate, really. It's somewhat inconsistent, compared to its notorious 1980 successor. Kind of like what "Nursery Cryme" is to "Selling England By The Pound" for me. Or almost like Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left" to "Pink Moon."

Okay, the crenellations I wish the band could fill in: 'Mind' is monotonous (unless you dig that kind of insanity with a little play around the meters of the song), but the ending is real tight. The music on 'Heaven' is flat-out dull, but that's good only if the message is worth the user's focus. But that's not the case with this song. A couple of lines are pretty weak, the message is ambiguous (which is OK), though the meaning of it that I figured is commonsensical: we all have things that we prefer to keep as secrets, no matter how "happy" we are. However, that's pretty good for a little cryptic lyricism exercise, but I still deem that kind of approach as extraneous and mind-tampering. Basically, I just don't like the song. Also, the second half of 'Animals' sounds too idiosyncratic to be taken seriously; just heed the way Byrne sings and what he sings: "They say animals don't worry, they are living on nuts and berries." What?! ... What?! ... I know, bizarre, huh?! In other news, 'Life During Wartime' is slightly better than 'Heaven.' I think this would be a good introduction for my mother to the concept of identity crisis and being left behind. But then again, maybe not. A little humanitarian and educational, but only a diminutive bit. And I don't like the mundane main melody. It's not compelling in any way. To sum up, the song is worthless. At least it has a story and a catchy rhythm guitar "solo" in the middle. Hence the second star.

But hey, look on the bright side. 'I Zimbra' is simply tight, with nonsensical lyrics (which is OK), and it features Bobby Fripp himself on the guitar. I thought: "Wow, that's really weird - Robert Fripp running some excerpts for a post-punk group making a weird, "out-there" post-punk record with a black front cover. This babka will try just about anything." Of all the short, adequate songs on this slice of cheesecake, 'Paper' is the hottest spot. Please, don't snooze over the chorus. In the case of this group it seems that this is right where their rock-n'-roll lifeblood flows. It just gives me that impression that this is all rock-n'-roll really needs: a dumb muted rhythm executed on an electric guitar with a toxic tone. This is it! The tone of the guitar when it's muted. Two keywords: "tone" and "muted." That's it. A one-ingredient formula set to the chorus with Byrne's "desperate" vocal touches, and you got yourself a piece of art I would never sell if it was mine. Not even for the capital of the whole world. High five!

I did not like 'Memories Can't Wait' at first because it somehow reminded me of the contemporary alt-rock scene, and I'm allergic to almost anything contemporary. It sounded as if the band was trying to impress me with its intimidation without naturally being initimidating, using that corny dark chord progression for the first half of the chorus (oh yeah! The chorus is broken up musically into two, can you believe that? Art! Ask for more!) But then "disoriented" violins come in place, and it sounds almost like Faust's music. Over a certain period of time I've grown to appreciate the rhythm guitar work and the experimental-punky spirit of the song. And the point of the lyrics is crucial: about the awakening of conscience once the mistakes of the past come by.

Don't miss out on a couple more catchy songs here. 'Air' is Byrne's take on ecology, I suppose, which may be weird. But who cares? I like singing to it and I like the guitar solo at the end. My mother may call this kind of music unnatural, but it's OK with me as long as it sounds good. No trash here whatsoever. Oh, and 'Electric Guitar' is also something to salvage from public oblivion. I don't care what Byrne and other people may say about some of his lyrics being nonsensical; to me the lyrics of this ditty make sense to some extent. The guitar is probably a symbol for a voice of freedom or a handgun. Maybe it's a First-Amendment or anti-Second-Amendment song. So, the guitar is brought in to the court and "the judge and the jury, twelve members of the jury" inspect it and bring out the verdict: "Never listen to electric guitar" only to bring on later another verdict: "Someone controls the electric guitar." The line "Tune this electric guitar" totally makes sense in this context. And I like the way David sings the lyrics. I just like his voice in general, no matter how weird or mundane it might sound to you at first.

Last, but not least, 'Drugs' is an important and unique track on the album, almost completely on its own. Avantgarde that gets me. Visceral avantgarde, just mental avantgarde. Byrne wrote the words as if he actually had some personal drug abuse experiences. But it's not the words that are at my focal point every time I listen to the song. It's the music. The sounds. In the chorus it sounds as if the protagonist feels himself like in a jungle (think back to the intro of 'Close to the Edge', eh?), only without birds, but with a music that is usually used in Hollywood movies when a jungle scene pops up. But on 'Drugs' it's more than that. And it has a kind of an Oriental flavor to it. Weird, huh? But I dig that!

Oh, gees, the longest review I've written so far. Just keep in mind that this record helped me through college. (By the way, there is another guy on YouTube who had just the same college experience. And that guy is not me. Just a coincidence.) So, it's a kind of a mentally medical album. Or maybe it's a drug. But not a drag, that's for sure.

P.S. 'Cities' is good too. Not a "vital" track, but at least it's good for me having a party with myself ... you know, pacing back and forth, doing my air guitar bit and quietly imitating Byrne's singing ... as I almost always do.

'I Zimbra' - *****

'Mind' - ***

'Paper' - *****

'Cities' - ****

'Life During Wartime' - **

'Memories Can't Wait' - ****

'Air' - ****

'Heaven' - *

'Animals' - ***

'Electric Guitar' - ****

'Drugs' - *****

Bonus tracks:

'Dancing For Money (Unfinished Outtake)' - **** (who cares about the undeveloped lyrics anyway?)

'Cities' (alternate version) - ** (way too long)

Stamp: "Highly recommended" (it has been and it still is revolutionary and influential to me as a beginning musical artist in its few various ways.)

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Thanks to chris s for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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