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TALKING HEADS

Prog Related • United States


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Talking Heads biography
Formed in 1975 in New York City, USA - Disbanded in 1991

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 W...
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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)

3.70 | 136 ratings
Talking Heads: 77
1977
3.84 | 139 ratings
More Songs About Buildings and Food
1978
3.76 | 137 ratings
Fear of Music
1979
4.20 | 258 ratings
Remain In Light
1980
3.66 | 110 ratings
Speaking In Tongues
1983
3.43 | 84 ratings
Little Creatures
1985
2.78 | 62 ratings
True Stories
1986
2.43 | 65 ratings
Naked
1988
1.92 | 23 ratings
The Heads: No Talking - Just Head
1996

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

3.97 | 45 ratings
The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
1982
3.44 | 52 ratings
Stop Making Sense
1984

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

4.55 | 33 ratings
Stop Making Sense
1984
3.05 | 2 ratings
Storytelling Giant
1988
3.52 | 4 ratings
Chronology
2011

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

3.62 | 14 ratings
Sand In The Vaseline
1992

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town
1977
2.50 | 2 ratings
Love Goes To Building On Fire
1977
2.00 | 1 ratings
Pulled Up
1977
3.50 | 2 ratings
Psycho Killer
1977
3.50 | 2 ratings
Take Me To The River
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Good Thing
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
I Zimbra
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
Air
1979
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live On Tour
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
Cities
1980
3.95 | 3 ratings
Once in a Lifetime
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Houses In Motion
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Life During Wartime (Live)
1982
2.00 | 1 ratings
Take Me To The River (Live)
1982
2.00 | 1 ratings
Swamp
1983
2.00 | 1 ratings
Slippery People
1983
3.50 | 2 ratings
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
1983
3.50 | 2 ratings
Burning Down The House
1983
3.00 | 2 ratings
Girlfriend Is Better
1984
3.75 | 4 ratings
Road To Nowhere
1985
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Lady Don't Mind
1985
2.67 | 3 ratings
And She Was
1985
2.00 | 1 ratings
Love For Sale
1986
2.50 | 2 ratings
Wild Wild Life
1986
2.00 | 1 ratings
Radio Head
1987
2.00 | 1 ratings
Blind
1988
2.00 | 1 ratings
(Nothing But) Flowers
1988
2.00 | 1 ratings
Lifetime Piling Up
1992

TALKING HEADS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.70 | 136 ratings

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Talking Heads: 77
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Putonix24

4 stars I don't know why Talking Heads are in a progressive rock music site, but it is still a very good band (I know some of the singles and music videos). "77" is my first album listen by them and damn it is a good album, regardless of its status as prog. The music and moods from this album is nothing like the music from that year, it has a very upbeat and feelgood mood, in comparison to punk rock (which I like) and not as sophisticated and convoluted as prog rock.

The music style from this record is very unique, It has more to do with funk and latin rhythms that with punk (and I really don't like latin rhythms even though I'm mexican) and even an african feeling, but totally dressed as a New York band.

There are no signs of distorted guitars, but the album can get heavy sometimes, with the guitars reminding me of early Pete Townshend playing from "My Generation" or "A Quick One", with that hard playing and shiny, bell-like sound, really great playing. Bass is not as protagonic compared to later songs or "Psycho Killer" but it is still groovy and always serving the songs, along with very solid drum playing.

The main highlight of the record is David Byrne's performances, so good, I like the mundane topics like in "Don't Worry About The Government" or The Who-like angst in "No Compassion", his vocal style mix between talking and singing is actually listenable and actually great, and even the tone of songs that could be cringy such as "Who Is It" are not cringy because of what a good performer David Byrne is.

I don't consider this album prog so I don't know how I would qualify this record as prog, but in an overall music rating it deserves 4 stars. Really good music, I wan't to listen to more of their stuff, It might be even better than this great record.

 Once in a Lifetime by TALKING HEADS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.95 | 3 ratings

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Once in a Lifetime
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I recently saw on TV David Byrne's American Utopia, the excellent concert film (2020) that not only features songs from Byrne's album of the same name but also several classic TALKING HEADS songs. I'm still not a connoisseur of that American new wave band of a cult status, but I'm gradually getting warmer for their music. 'Once in a Lifetime' is one of their best known and most charming songs, appearing on their fourth studio album Remain in Light (1980) which is generally regarded as their best work.

As was the whole album, 'Once in a Lifetime' was created collaboratively by the entire band and the innovative producer Brian Eno. It was developed through extensive jams inspired by Afrobeat musicians such as Fela Kuti, and Byrne's lyrics and vocals were inspired by preachers delivering sermons. So, the song can be seen as a forefather to the rap genre; I personally hate rap music, but I do like this song despite the rap-reminding elements. The soundscape behind Byrne's manic talking and the upliftingly catchy chorus ("Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down") is delicious and hasn't dated at all, it still sounds very fresh. If you're familiar with BRIAN ENO's vocal pieces and especially the album Wrong Way Up (1990) that Eno did with John Cale, you can easily recognize the relation. 'Once in a Lifetime' is a thinking man's pop classic which has appeared on several listings of all-time greatest American songs. David Byrne has said that the lyrics are about the unconscious: "We operate half-awake or on autopilot and end up, whatever, with a house and family and job and everything else, and we haven't really stopped to ask ourselves, How did I get here?"

The single's B side song 'Seen and Not Seen' was also taken from Remain in Light. The soundscape has a lot of electronic experimentation above the dominating, monotonous rhythm pattern, and Byrne's vocal parts are mere talking in a normal voice. As an overall stylistic/atmospheric reference, one could think of Peter Gabriel's third album from the same year or Robert Fripp's Exposure (1979), in addition to Brian Eno. Perhaps these references are a good way to get into Talking Heads, keeping in mind they are not progressive rock.

 More Songs About Buildings and Food by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.84 | 139 ratings

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More Songs About Buildings and Food
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars While Talking Heads' debut was certainly a success in a number of ways, not only landing a huge hit with Psycho Killer, but immediately establishing a compelling approach and sound, it's really their 2nd album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, where the band properly found that stride of releasing total masterpieces. With that said, their sophomore album in general feels rather different in a few key areas to the rest of the band's output. Everything here just feels as if it's far more grounded, with the more personal, introspective approach to lyricism rather than the often broader or more abstract subject matter, or at least presentation of those topics, making it quite powerful and impactful in many instances. Combine this with the other decisions such as the greater focus on guitar or how the majority of the songs are shorter and feel more about capturing a mood as opposed to a full fledged song, and you've got yourself a truly excellent and fascinating listening experience.

Thank You For Sending Me an Angel immediately represents this shift in approach by almost sounding as if it's starting in the middle of the song during a particularly climactic moment, with driving drums pairs with the bouncy guitar and bass especially giving off this vibe. Really energetic opener that never feels as if it slows down in the slightest, which is most clear in the way that even the little guitar solo is used to simultaneously support the rhythm and stand out in its own way as a neat little moment of technicality. This sort of seemingly unchanging steadiness to each individual track on the first side contributes to the band feeling as if they have near boundless amounts of energy to bring to the table, almost as if the album will just never stop going this hard. What's most impressive in this regard is how it translates so neatly into the 2 mid paced songs on this part of the album, The Good Thing and Warning Sign. The way The Good Thing slowly escalates is a significant reason for this, and makes the more intense, frenetically played conclusion feel perfectly natural. Warning sign is even more effective at crafting this sort of latent energy with the way its slower melodic elements are contrasted by a faster paced, underlying rhythm from the guitar. It also helps a lot that this is such a charming and catchy song, though you could say that about the majority of them here.

The album isn't only about these short bursts of energy however, with a few longer songs finding their way onto More Songs About Buildings and Food as well, as can be seen with the side 1 closer, Found a Job. While certainly similar in vibe to everything preceding it, the different sections of the track feel more clear-cut and and obvious. Once again the guitar really is the star of the show here, with the way it perfectly plays off the rhythm, feeling both tightly regimented yet very fun and groovy, with the interactions with the keyboard further elevating things to the point of being one of the band's greatest instrumental moments. And if that wasn't enough, what follows is the fantastic one-two punch of Artists Only and I'm Not In Love. Artists Only feels as if it is able to represent the experience of the creative cycle both through its lyrics and music itself. I'm quite a fan of the way this so harshly can switch gears while remaining cohesive, with stretches of driven energy being balanced by moments of off kilter instrumental madness, before quickly picking itself back up and sounding as if it will keep trying the same thing yet again. It hits the point where it almost feels as if it's desperately working towards some sort of goal by the end, making for some nice parallels to the lyricism. I'm Not In Love on the other hand is not something I can as easily express my feelings on, it's just a song that really gets it, hard to explain it much more than that, it just works remarkably well on a personal level for me. That said, what I can easily say about it is the way that nothing stands still at any point makes for a sight to behold in its own right, like, wow there's so much greatness bombarding you in this one song.

The album ends things well with a couple of of more grounded, long songs that feel like a good way to calm things down to a near halt, and are overall just very chill ways to end things after such an album. Of these I definitely like Take Me to the River a bit more, with its iconic hook and awesome keyboard elements giving it a lot of really fun sections that know how to get stuck in your head for ages. Overall, this album is what I'd consider to be a resounding success, further refining Talking Heads' sound, while pushing them in some different and interesting directions, all when ensuring that the album itself is constantly fun and interesting. This is where the band became something truly special to me, and the fact that they'd comfortably top this a bit later is totally insane. Not the first place I'd send someone in the Talking Heads discography, but undoubtedly a remarkable album that is essential listening.

Best songs: Thank You for Sending Me an Angel, Found a Job, Artists Only, I'm Not In Love

Weakest songs: Stay Hungry

4.5 stars rounded down

 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.70 | 136 ratings

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Talking Heads: 77
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Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars I've recently been getting into Talking Heads, finding their interesting brand of nervous energy and playfulness making for a lot of extremely entertaining material, but that said, while I feel that Talking Heads 77 embodies certain elements of the band's identity quite clearly, it also misses the mark in some areas in ways that ultimately make me enjoy this far less than the next few albums to come after it. While you can hear a lot of their sound here, with a far more distinct, well-realised sound to a lot of other bands with their debut, there are also a fair few aspects of it that end up being unrefined, with a more conventional new wave sound in a lot of parts clashing with the more eccentric sensibilities of the band, especially in terms of David Byrne's vocals. While it's easy to see how his vocals could be off-putting to some, I feel like this album really accentuates these more potentially annoying aspects of his voice. Furthermore, the album is quite inconsistent compared to some of their slightly later output, with a lot of songs sounding more like half-baked sketches or just ideas that really didn't pan out to become anything meaningful, culminating in a very promising, yet somewhat underwhelming album.

All the problems I just mentioned don't really come up in the first 3 songs however, especially in Uh Oh, Love Comes to Town, which embodies a lot of the great aspects of the band. I love how upbeat and funky this song is, just feeling really fun throughout, especially with the choice of using steel drums in various parts of the song, giving that extra little hint of quirkiness to it while also just sounding really good in general. New feeling is probably one of the songs on the album that closest resembles the lightly later albums of the band, with a lot of focus to the rhythmic elements of the song and their extremely meticulous sounding interplay, each note contributing to a very anxious tone, hints of distortion and the at times almost panicked delivery of David Byrne solidifying this, all while making the song a ton of fun to listen to at the same time. Tentative Decisions is more minimalistic than some others on the album, and I really mostly like it for the great groove of the chorus, not much to say here.

It's from here where the album goes downhill for a while to me, especially with Happy Day, which is the main song I was talking about when I mentioned David Byrne's vocals potentially being annoying. The song on the whole just doesn't feel like it goes anywhere, making it quite dull, so when it's combined with the vocals on the chorus, where he just seems like he's poorly trying to hit a high note repeatedly, and failing, making it a reasonably rare case of vocals strongly putting me completely off a song. Who Is It? follows these issues, once again sounding extremely uneventful and directionless, with the same line repeated ad nauseum as the song goes absolutely nowhere and doesn't even have anything particularly interesting going on anyway. No Compassion, while it definitely has some potential, especially with the way it periodically switches to a more bouncy rhythm before settling back down in the slightly more subdued stuff. the issue I have with it is that in the end I find that despite the fact it's only about 5 minutes, it really ends up dragging, the entire last verse and chorus being something that could easily be cut out without any major loss, through the song as a whole ends up feeling repetitive regardless.

It's First Week / Last Week where I consider the album to finally find its feet again fortunately, and ends up being one of my favourites on the album, just a really great song with some amazing vocal melodies. Psycho Killer is similarly really great, and is deservedly considered one of the absolute classics in their discography, once again bringing out the more anxious vibe, but also being easily the catchiest thing on the album, and it isn't even close. The part where Byrne starts singing in French is another really charming little aspect of this song, especially the way it really ends up feeling like he ups the intensity during this section, something further heightened by the guitar solo at the end as the song gradually speeds up, each beat being extremely prominent due to the bassline. Pulled Up closes off the album decently, as while it's not quite as good as the previous 2 songs, it's another one of the more entertaining songs here, I especially like the faster pace of it, especially when compared to the predominantly mid-paced nature of the album. While my score of this album and overall opinion on it don't reflect anything to do with the bonus tracks, I just quickly want to mention that people really should listen to these when listening to the album, as most of them are actually better than even some of the highlights from the regular tracklist.

Overall, there's little doubt in my mind that there's quite a bit of greatness in this album, but there's even less doubt that I'm just not a fan of half of the album in the slightest, with a couple of songs I'd go even as far as saying are outright bad, along with a few that are just very mediocre, often not making up for the fun high points that the album has. This band definitely went on to become something great, and some of this album already shows their greatness, but on the whole, it's not really an album that I'd go back to particularly often.

Best tracks: Uh Oh, Love Comes to Town, Psycho Killer, First Week / Last Week....Carefree

Weakest tracks: Happy Day, Who Is It?, Don't Worry About the Government

 Fear of Music by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.76 | 137 ratings

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Fear of Music
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars Fear of music is the third album by the band Talking Heads. The album continued the collaboration with Brian Eno. Fear of music further evolved the band by adding in funk and disco elements into their artsy new wave pop/rock sound. The album is personally one of my favorites by the band because I truly got the most enjoyment from listening to Fear of music and its follow-up. I Zimbra is the opening track of the album and its interesting because it uses African rhythms, which the band would continue to utilize later on in their career. I also noticed that the album had more songs in the minor key, which made the album sound darker than the previous two. Fear of music is great because the band continued to evolve and experiment with their sound, which is why they were so successful and why Fear of music and their other records are great and fun listens. Fear of music is a great album to start with if you are getting into the band.
 More Songs About Buildings and Food by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.84 | 139 ratings

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More Songs About Buildings and Food
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Review by progtime1234567

4 stars More songs about building and food was the second album by the band Talking Heads. The album marked the beginning of the bands collaborations with Brian Eno. More songs about buildings and food has an evolved sound from the bands last offering, Talking heads: 77 and it is not only because Brian Eno is featured, its also because the band started to add more art music into their sound. The album is still rooted in punk rock, but the punk roots are not as prominent as they were in the last record, which shows that the band is evolving and creating their own signature sound. The album is very nice and I personally enjoyed it more than Talking heads: 77 because I thought this one was more creative and innovative. I love new wave music because it has so many different sounds to it so that it prevents it from having clones of the same band over and over again. Talking heads not only got on their feet with this record, they started a journey down a path that would make their music more art rock like, complex and experimental.
 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.70 | 136 ratings

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Talking Heads: 77
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Review by progtime1234567

3 stars Talking Heads: 77 is the debut from the band Talking Heads. When the band came out they played a kind of punk rock that was very art rock influenced, and the sound the band produced on this album helped spawn the new wave genre. The album isn't necessarily progressive rock but the influence is there. The album is at its core a punk rock album, but the influences from other genres made the album stick out from other punk rock releases. Talking Heads play music that has weird rhythms and a grooving bass played by Tina Weymouth that defined the bands sound not just on this record but on the entire bands discography. David Bryne's vocals are also a staple of the music. I recommend Talking Heads: 77 if you're either getting into the band, or want good art music. The band did have better things to come, but this album is one of my favorites by them.
 More Songs About Buildings and Food by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.84 | 139 ratings

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More Songs About Buildings and Food
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Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The TALKING HEADS had three years to craft their debut album "Talking Heads 77" since its formation in 1975 but only a year to conjure up a sophomore follow-up for a record company that wanted to cash in on the momentum of the attention getting but no so successful first release. While "Talking Heads 77" had impressed the critics with its bold amalgamation of funky rhythms and pop sensibilities all decorated with art rock angularities and punk infused attitude, the album failed to chart any higher than the #92 slot on the Billboard album charts but nevertheless with tracks like "Psychokiller" which displayed a firm grasp of walking the line between the cleverly infectious and the morbidly morose, the TALKING HEADS proved that they could be trusted to sally forth and gestate an even better batch of tracks for the next act.

By chance, none other than former Roxy Music and renowned producer Brian Eno was scouting the Big Apple in the late 70s to help nurture new talent to stardom and came across David Byrne and company. The result of the collaboration was exactly what was needed to direct the TALKING HEADS sound to the next level. Eno had a keen ear for crafting a band's sound into the right arenas that would resonate with the public and is most likely the reason the album caught on and launched the band into a much wider audience. Eno directed bassist Tina Weymouth to beef up her bass chops which gave the album a much funkier edge than the debut. Byrne was also instructed to sharpen his guitar strumming which allowed the punk infused energy to diffuse in ska rhythmic pulses which when accompanied by the off-kilter tempo changes and unorthodox avant-garde tendencies guaranteed an infectious delivery system.

MORE SONGS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND FOOD built upon the latent potentials in the caterpillar stages of the TALKING HEADS and propelled them into the world of butterflies. While the debut album cover art was a rather bland blank canvas of red, the band was allowed to strut its Rhode Island School of Design roots and delivery an eye-catching collage of 529 polaroid photos that displayed the four band members with no band name or title. While a purportedly risky move for a newbie band trying to break into the mainstream, Eno's music industry connections and keen eye for the current trends guaranteed that the TALKING HEADS were well-crafted into the next best thing. And so it was. This sophomore album was a major hit and broke the top 30 album charts in both the US and UK. This was partially due to the band's single, a cover of Al Green's "Take Me To The River" also cracking the top 30 singles charts and peaking at #26.

In addition to the better production and mixing, the album also benefits from Brian Eno himself joining in as an extra musicians by adding a wealth of synthesizers, pianos, guitar parts and backing vocals that were absent from the debut. These new attributes aligned with the tighter performances and more fine-tuned compositions guaranteed that MORE SONGS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND FOOD was at an industry standard that set it apart from the more relaxed garage band ethos of the debut. Overall the album is much more energetic with Byrne's vocals taking on a wider range as well as his guitar duties finding him crank out a heavier punk infused delivery of playing. This is also true of Jerry Harrison's keyboard playing and an obvious energetic uptick of Chris Frantz on drums which found more inspiration from world rhythms especially from Africa. Tracks like "Stay Hungry" demonstrate just how much the musicians had evolved since "Talking Heads 77."

With a tighter and heavier rhythmic section, the classic TALKING HEADS sound was complete and the band would record two more albums with Eno which spawned the even more successful and critically acclaimed followup albums "Fear Of Music" and "Remain In Light." While it's almost certain that Eno's intervention is what brought the TALKING HEADS into the limelight with his firm control over the details that created a more disciplined sound, it cannot be denied that Byrne's extraordinary songwriting skills and quirky vocal and guitar deliveries weren't the standouts of this TALKING HEADS experience. Overall, this is a huge step up from the debut however it does lose some of that innocent charm that made "Talking Heads 77" so unique in its own right.

4.5 rounded down

 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.70 | 136 ratings

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

4 stars While the new wave music scene is most noted for its wealth of artists that found instant success for the outlandish videos promoted on MTV starting with the Buggles' famous "Video Killed The Radio Star," the scene can rightfully be traced back to the 70s with its origins emerging from the early quirky zolo pop of acts like Sparks as well as the glam rock of David Bowie, Roxy Music and proto-punk acts like the New York Dolls. After the proper fluffing the music world for primetime, the scene really took off in the mid-70s with bands like Blondie, Devo and the Ramones adding elements of punk to art rock and synth-pop and out of all the early pioneers, one of the most celebrated bands to come out of the early new wave world was the New York City based TALKING HEADS.

Unlike many bands that go through many members that come and go throughout their careers, TALKING HEADS consisted of the exact same lineup beginning with its debut album TALKING HEADS 77 all the way to the band's end in 1991. Immediately recognizable by the jittery and often psychotic lead vocals and guitar playing of frontman David Byrne, the band also consisted of percussionist Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and bassist Tina Weymouth. Famous for its quirky mix of punk freneticism, art rock exoticism, funky rhythms, world music ethnic elements all mixed with experimental touches, the TALKING HEADS have gone down in history as one of rock's greatest bands with album's like "Fear Of Music" and "Remain In Light" heralded as classics, however things didn't start out with such a bang regarding the band's debut release simply titled TALKING HEADS 77.

While also restrospectively deemed one of the classic 70s releases, TALKING HEADS 77 was a little too weird for audiences when it was released in September 1977 on the Sire label. While clearly existing in the pop music continuum with instantly catchy and utterly infectious melodies with somewhat traditional song structures, everything else was completely up to chance as to how it played out. Firstly was the unique even goofy vocal style of David Byrne whose head scratching lyrics ran the gamut from cutesy little anthems like "Happy Day" to the more macabre in tracks like the single "Psychokiller," which proved to be a minor hit by barely cracking the charts. With an opening track like "Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town," it's easy to dismiss the TALKING HEADS as simply a power pop band without much more to offer but it doesn't take long for the bizarre nature of the band to unleash itself.

"New Feeling" debuts the idiosyncrasies so unique to the TALKING HEADS such as the off-kilter rhythmics, abrupt tempo changes, detached weird lyrics and zolo freneticism that were all dressed up with Byrne's unpredictable falsetto leaps that found company with ska rhythms, funky bass riffs and punk fueled disregard for the status quo. With a touch of Sparks' zolo fueled quirky pop sensibilities and a touch of glam rock charm, the band found the perfect balancing act between the utterly bizarre and the most affectionally familiar. Added to the peculiar sound was the band's straight looked image that portended a group of mental institution escapees that stole the proper clothes to fit into the mainstream public. Peppered with roundabout sarcasm of mainstream society, nobody really knew what to make of the TALKING HEADS. While Devo was all about being weird and demented, the TALKING HEADS cast a mesmerizing spell that made you wonder exactly what they stood for.

TALKING HEADS 77 is a unique album in the band's discography as it is the most authentically pure. Soon after this album's release the band was discovered by Brian Eno who would then collaborate on the next three albums and work in his production magic which gave the album's a much more polished and sophisticated demeanor. While not as gemstone perfect as the following releases, 77 is nevertheless a powerhouse of quirky new wave pop tunes that weasel their way into your ear worm playlist fairly quickly after a couple spins. The tracks differ just enough to keep the album from becoming predictable. Not the band's best but still an excellent slice of late 70s new wave charm.

 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.70 | 136 ratings

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Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Talking Heads is usually a group that you wouldn't expect to see in Prog Archives, but when it comes down to it, they were an innovative band with shows that had a lot of flair and showmanship that leaned towards the flamboyant hijinx of Queen, David Bowie and Genesis. While it's true that the music took most of it's inspiration from the David Bowie side of things, the Glam Rock attitude has always found it's home in progressive rock anyway. As far as the ingenious side of things, David Byrne, Tina Waymouth, Jerry Harrison and Chris Frantz took a combination of their punk, pop and art rock backgrounds and melded them together perfectly. With this combination, they rose above the punk revolution and the disco fad and helped shape the music of the 80s, at least the new age side of things.

Seeing as they are considered a Prog Related band, they don't have to have their music always dependent on progressive techniques and such. But they do have tie ins to the genre, namely the ingenuity and showmanship as mentioned earlier, but also personnel tie in, like Byrne working with artists like Robert Fripp and exploring African music, but also Adrian Belew who would work with the band later, and also Brian Eno, who would produce and influence their music after their first album. Jerry Harrison also had a penchant for doing upbeat music with an artsy vibe that helped shape the slightly different textures that the band would explore. All you have to do is listen to some of his solo albums like "Casual Gods" to understand how his sound brought that different edge to their upbeat, poppish and sometimes danceable music.

Their debut album "Talking Heads: '77" shows the band without all the bells and whistles of later albums, but also demonstrates how they could make pop music into an art form, make it infectious and give it an attitude that would stick out from the norm. The music is mostly happy, but the lyrics could be satirical and have a bite to them. Byrne's voice has become an 80's staple, but it carries the right attitude and humorously over the top vibe that was perfect for this band. In the meantime, the other musicians were able to create some exciting grooves, and yet kept the sound minimal, yet infectious. Their ability to provide the right flourishes in the right places was uncanny, especially since they were not really accomplished musicians, but they knew when they had the right sound, and that ability would grow the longer they worked together.

Talking Heads '77 has many highlights that become more apparent the more you listen to it. I know that many people have the same problem with the album I had when I first heard it, and that is, the album grows on you over time so that as you become familiar with the songs, they all take on lives of their own. Everyone loves "Psycho Killer" of course, but as shown in the original performance of the single, it didn't catch on right away, but came a favorite over time. That is the case for all of the songs here, they take time to grow on you. My personal highlights for this album are "Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town", "New Feeling", "Happy Day", the multi-themed "No Compassion", "Don't Worry About the Government", and of course "Psycho Killer". That is more than half of the tracks, and the remaining tracks are great also.

The 2005 CD reissue of this album also had 5 more bonus tracks: the single that wasn't on the album "Love = A Building on Fire", "I Wish You Wouldn't Say That", the acoustic version of "Psycho Killer", "I Feel it in My Heart" and "Sugar on My Tongue". All of these tracks make it worthwhile to search out the reissue.

This album is a great album, especially considering the fact that it was their debut album. It isn't perfect, in fact most of their albums aren't perfect when it comes to progressive music, except for the live album "Stop Making Sense". But the music of Talking Heads has always intrigued me and I find that their music always has a way of making me feel good.

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

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