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TALKING HEADS: 77

Talking Heads

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Talking Heads Talking Heads: 77 album cover
3.77 | 115 ratings | 10 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Uh-Oh,Love Comes To Town (2:48)
2. New Feeling (3:09)
3. Tentative Decisions (3:04)
4. Happy Day (3:55)
5. Who Is It? (1:41)
6. No Compassion (4:47)
7. The Book I Read (4:06)
8. Don't Worry About The Government (3:00)
9. First Week/Last Week.....Carefree (3:19)
10. Psyco Killer (4:19)
11. Pulled Up (4:29)

Total time 38:37

Bonus Tracks on 2005 CD Release:
12. Love --> Building on Fire (3:00)
13. I Wish You Wouldn't Say That (2:39)
14. Psycho Killer (acoustic version) (4:20)
15. I Feel It in My Heart (3:15)
16. Sugar on My Tongue (2:36)


Line-up / Musicians

- David Byrne / vocals, guitar
- Jerry Harrison / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Tina Weymouth / bass, vocals
- Chris Frantz / drums
- Arthur Russell / cello (14)

Releases information

Artwork: David Byrne

LP Sire ‎- SR 6036 (1977, US)

CD Sire ‎- WPCP-3620 (1990, Japan)
CD Sire ‎- 7599-27423-2 (1999, Europe)
CD Rhino Records ‎- 8122-79884-1 (2009, Europe) Remastered by Kevin Gray

Thanks to Snow Dog (Data Standards) for the addition
and to TCat for the last updates
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TALKING HEADS Talking Heads: 77 ratings distribution


3.77
(115 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(17%)
17%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(56%)
56%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

TALKING HEADS Talking Heads: 77 reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars Since I've already pointed out that the debut album from Talking Heads is one of my top 20 favorite albums, I might as well shed some light on why it is so. The short version of the story is that it's one of the best feel-good albums in existence!

This album always leaves me in a good mood and I often find myself spinning this record for hours without ever feeling tired of it, which to me says a lot about its quality. There is definitely a part of me that wishes that Talking Heads only made this kind of albums, but on the other hand it would mean that Remain In Light would have never got made and that won't keep me happy for too long. More Songs About Building And Food surely comes close to replicating the fun and easy-going attitude that Talking Heads depict on their debut album but the two highly praised tracks tight at the end makes it not as enjoyable for me.

To understand what I mean when I talk about the easy-going attitude, you won't have to go further than listening to the album opening Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town! This music is of course technically not prog, but if you're expecting that from an album that clearly features the number 77 on its album cover, then the joke is entirely on you. The style would be better defined as a mixture between New Wave and Art Rock or even Art Punk, as it's labeled on Wikipedia, meaning that there is a definite arty flavor embedded into the material, so if you're into bands like Roxy Music or even Sparks then you should feel right at home with this album.

Just like many of my favorite albums, I rarely listen to them for any of their standout moments since they often work better as an album experience without relying on the individual moments. I literally have new favorite tunes every time I listen to Talking Heads: 77 and today it was Who Is It? and The Book I Read that managed to stand out more than they use to. But that's of course very relative since, as mentioned, this is a complete album experience and these songs rarely work as well when taken out of the context of this perfectly balanced album.

Talking Heads really managed to kick off their career on a high note, but this was only the first step on the road to receiving a wider recognition from the Art Rock community. I, for one, can't get enough of this record and hopefully so won't you. Just remember not to expect another Remain In Light and you'll probably do fine!

***** star songs: Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town (2:48) New Feeling (3:09) Who Is It? (1:41) The Book I Read (4:06) Don't Worry About The Government (3:00) Psycho Killer (4:19) Pulled Up (4:29)

**** star songs: Tentative Decisions (3:04) Happy Day (3:55) No Compassion (4:47) First Week/Last Week ... Carefree (3:19)

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars good pop/rock band , but absolutely NOTHING PROG, no matter what some would have you believe !!!

Debut album from an average pop group that would evolve into an inventive group in a few years, but right now, these guys have the occasional flash of brilliance, but it's only on a few songs per album on the first few. The group is mainly carried by main songwriter, singer and guitarist David Byrne, who has an obvious influence from Latin American musics and African rhythms, and while the group plays some post-punk pop that can also be called New Wave, the ethnic influences are sometimes evident, sometimes more discreet. Obviously the rest of the group is quite fitting to play those toned-down African rhythms, but drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth (playing often keyboards on stage) are more than capable, but never dazzling. Guitarist, keyboardist and back-up singer Jerry Harrison completes the group and make a fairly versatile Babbling Heads group, that seemed to lack inspiration on the debut album's artwork

Indeed the opening track is one of many that are fairly jumpy (almost danceable) and enthusiastic (more for the band than me), but it's nothing for prospective progheads. One can maybe say that the inclusion of these ethnic elements was groundbreaking in the pure pop medium, but in other Western music circles this had happened quite a while ago. One of the album's midlight (can't really speak of "highlight" in 77) is the Psycho Killer tune, with its binary rhythm, but with a semblance of a good guitar solo. The succession of those upbeat mid-tempo tracks can become quite tiresome as they are all rather samey-sounding, despite an odd instrument here and there (African instruments, horn and a cello) and the individual songs find their groove immediately, but stay inside it until the track ends, leaving few space for real instrumental interplay solos and breaks.

The deluxe double-disc remastered version includes two of unfinished (and still instrumental) studio tracks from the album sessions and a bunch of single tracks, whether A or B-side, which add some extra value to those that really enjoy this type of aural torture. The DVD tackles the same album in 5.1 mix, plus different bonus tracks and has two filmed concert extracts which give a good but very amateur-ish (film footage) apercu of their live outings at the time. Indeed Pulled Up is a '78 hand-held camera excerpt from the back of the crowd, zooming sometimes inappropriately on the wrong TH member, while Feel It In My Heart is definitely more competent filming from a pre-debut album NY gig, but sill not professional, but does it matter that much anyway?Happily enough, the Speaking Heads will get much better than this first album, but as Rome wasn't built in one day, the TH will not reach maturity until the fourth RIL album. Unfortunately, we're far away with 77.

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars You know, I was just about to summarize the evolution of my impressions of this album with "first listen: boring except "Psycho Killer," etc; second listen: at least the sound is pretty neat, though too samey, etc; third listen: really cool etc." Then I happened to discover that, without my realizing it, one of my old friends had reviewed this album with almost the exact same opening, and my plans were laid to waste. Still, that my instinct of what to write on this matched somebody else's should indeed give an indication of how this album is. Those who associate Talking Heads with all of the incessant overdubs and thick sound of the '79-'80 albums will probably be shocked when listening to this for the first time - it's mostly just the bandmembers, with almost no production embellishments, playing what on the surface is a bunch of boring formulaic late-70's pop (as Mark Prindle once brilliantly put it, this sounds like a guitar pop album created by a bunch of people who have just had full frontal lobotomies). Who needs it?

Well, as you might gather, I do. Maybe the band's roots are in "unexciting" music, but there's so many slight eyebrow-raising twists that I can't help but like this album a lot. Could any other band take a standard pop song like the opening "Uh Oh, Love Comes to Town" (with a great bassline) and give it a whole other dimension simply with the attachment of "Uh Oh" to the beginning of the song, or with emotionally ambiguous lyrics as those in the chorus ("here comes a riddle, here comes a clue, if you are really smart, you'll know what to do")? Would a normal album have tweaked guitar interplay and half-sung/half-spoken lyrics like those of "New Feeling" combined with such a great tweaked melody? Would any other band think to give a song like "Tentative Decisions" a martial drumming pattern under the "Oh the boys want to talk ..." parts, giving the song a sort of comic majesty to go with traditional opposite-gender angst?

Sheesh, it just goes on. I could live without "Happy Day," which is a bit too sappy without being memorable enough, and I guess "Who is It?" is a somewhat stupid groove (I like it more than I should, though - that instrumental texture is just too addictive), but I find more good than bad in every one of the other songs (except for the fact that trying to unstick them from each other in my mind after the album's done is still a major problem, which is why the rating is as low as it is). "No Compassion" is notable because it bookends a nonsensical/anthemic (a combination other groups would be hardpressed to achieve, to say the least) main section with a fine shimmery riff topped off with perfect shimmery slide guitars. "The Book I Read" is notable because it's a great take on the "nervous love song" genre, combining the standard paranoid mutterings with that beautiful "na na na ...." part. "Don't Worry About the Government" makes lines like "My building has every convenience" as moving and anthemic as hearing "God Bless America" (and then goes into playful territory with the "loved ones, loved ones ..." chunk), "Psycho Killer" finds the one and only way to make a piece about a homicidal maniac (with a menacing bass intro, no less) into a post-modern poppy blast ("Psycho killer, q'uest-ce que c'est? fa fa fa fa fa fa ... better run run run run run run away ..."), and the closing "Pulled Up" combines playful guitars with UP UP UP... screams (that probably inspired Mick Jagger for some of his ramblings in "Shattered") to terrific effect.

Of course, there are weaknesses. The biggest problem from a reviewing point of view is that, well, these songs make it very difficult to explain the album without namechecking every song. These songs are cool, neat, demented and catchy (a lot of the time), but even the moments that seem kinda emotional seem as though it's just David Byrne laughing at me. And, of course, there's the fact that I'd forgotten a lot of these cool aspects of the tracks until I just was flipping through them to jog my memory of what the heck is where. But it's good. VERY good.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars 1977. Such a fascinating year for music, not only the year where a new generation of bands tried to carve a new aesthetic, it's also a year where many of the dinosaurs put up a last good fight and delivered many strong releases such as Animals, Going For The One, Seconds Out, Songs From The Wood,... and eh no, not Works no.

Talking Heads were one of the new kids on the block: punk by spirit, art rock at heart, and the debut is the exact showcase of that duality, offering everything from standard pop songs to tentative world-beat rhythms, and from civilized punk to art rock pretensions. In other words, the kind of stuff that the "art police" listened to when I was in college at the end of the 80s. And rest assured, those keepers of good taste didn't listen to prog.

A lot of rambling to hide that I haven't much to say about this music. Everybody knows Psycho Killer of course, which is one of the more memorable moments here and a good indication of what the band was about back then. Quite original but I don't like it much actually. My favorite tune here is New Feeling that brings about that great feel-good vibe as the first two albums from the B-52's. But on the whole, the songwriting on this arty punk-pop debut is rather unremarkable and too docile.

The album sure has its fans, but for me, it's one that shows that the new generation of youngsters were still no match for the old geezers. Well, not yet at least... Luckily for Talking Heads, their best was still to come.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is gorgeous art rock. As simple as that. The quirkiness that David Byrne brought to the party along with his band members was a breath of fresh air for the times. Yes elements of post punk or traces of new wave but essentially the best description is art rock/pop. Being their debut the sounds are scaled right down offering simple yet highly intelligent and accessible music. Their trademark sound evident on 77 never really left them, not least Byrne's unique vocal style and Weymouth's bass.

I am going to highlight songs that in this reviewers opinion makes this record. Due to the brevity and simplicity of the songs it is best to highlight a few and ask enthusiasts to take it from there. " New Feeling" for simplicity says it all as David Byrne once introduced the song by saying.." This song is New Feeling.....and that is what it's about"....:-), " The Book I Read" spellbinding and addictive, " First Week/Last Week...Caarefree" and the opening track " Uh-Oh Love Comes To Town" all serve as fantastic introductory fodder to what this band were about to offer millions of satisfied listeners during their tenure. Many debut albums hit the sweet spot. Many debut albums make it hard for the follow up releases to eclipse them. Few debut albums hint at genius. Talking Heads qualify on all three counts. Four solid stars.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Even in 1977, when many of the punk bands bursting onto the scene were gleefully producing no-frills rock which didn't worry about art, some bands were already steering the New Wave sound into a distinctly art rock direction. Indeed, often "post-punk" would prove to be more avant-garde and experimental than many supposedly progressive bands of the era.

Talking Heads were right at the vanguard of the arty side of the New Wave, sowing the seeds of a swathe of post-punk styles with their debut album. Uh-Oh Love Comes To Town features Caribbean steel drum melodies spicing up David Byrne's emotionally evocative description of a new love and all the worries and nervousness that goes with it, Psycho Killer is a sparse, stripped down nightmare, Pulled Up sets the blueprint for a legion of alternative rock guitar bands looking to do an upbeat number to follow, and between these bookends the album charts a course through the group's idiosyncratic vision of rock and roll, demolishing the rock band format and sound brick by brick and then rebuilding it again to a new and strikingly modern design. Eno isn't on the scene yet, but you can see why he paid close attention here.

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Since I posted my last reviews quite a long time ago, I was really urprised that a band like ''Talking Head'' was featured here...

When I discovered them in 1977, with this album, they were one of the leader of the US new wave. I saw them live in the Brussels unviersity in early 78 and it was quite a great concert. So, now, let's review their first release ! A great mix of funk, new wave beats and inspired voclas will generate some great music (at least during several albums).

Almost he whole of this work is catchy (even for me who is not really into funk rhythms). But who can resits to a song like ''Uh-Oh'' or ''New Feeling'' ? Even ''tentative Decisions'' is catchy but I can understand that most of the popular reviewers on this site (n'est-ce pas Hughes) are not really enthusiastic about ''Talikng Heads''. But I am. Nothing to to with a pop group IMHHO.

There are of course some transparent songs featured on their first release like ''Happy Day''. But there won't be so many to find in here. The short ''Who Is It'' introduces their second and wonderfull work (''More Songs? ''). Upbeat funky mood and disjointed vocals. A trademark actually.

A track like ''No Compassion'' is definetely paving the way for future great work. The whole of a TH son gis featured here. Vocals, bass, drumming : such a built is truely genuine. One of the many highlights. My preferred song from this album is the great ''The Book I Read''.

So catchy, great beat (don't forget this was a new wave band). On top of this, their leader David Byrne was a great song writer who knew what a great melody was. He wrote so many catchy songs throughout the years? This one being maybe one of his first and one of his best?The highlight for me (but there some others here).

Another great song featured here is '' Don't Worry About the Government''. Sounds as an easy listening song but lyrics are rather harsh. It reminds in some way of the great ''Get'em Out by Friday'' by whom you should know). But to a lesser extent.

Most of this album is just a very good experience. Actually it is one of their best and almost each piece is very pleasant (although nothing to do to prog, even related). Such is a song like ''First Week, Last Week'' for instance. Completely in line with their overall production.

Another great number is the closing one which is full of freshness, upbeat, frenzy. But this all about Talking Heads in the early days. Which are my favorite days actually. Four stars for this debut. Better things to come very soon !

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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.

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1181726) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Sunday, June 1, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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