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Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food CD (album) cover


Talking Heads


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3.84 | 142 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
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

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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