Category: Talking Heads

Talking Heads – Fear of Music

ARTIST: Talking Heads                            Talking_Heads-Fear_of_Music

TITLE: Fear of Music

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION: #21 US, #33 UK

SINGLES: I Zimbra (#28 Dance), Cities, Life During Wartime (#80 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Memories Can Wait, Heaven

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz with help from Brian Eno

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Another big leap forward, as the Talking Heads play with rhythms and sounds from outside the normal rock element.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Talking Heads could have recorded variations of their first two albums and gone along quite nicely, thank you, but David Byrne was always wanting to expand his sonic palette and utilize sounds and rhythms not usually associated with popular music.

Mostly it’s successful, with songs about cities, heaven, newspapers, nuclear war, electric guitars, crimes against the state, and a Dada tone poem. The band, along with Brian Eno, follows along with an expanded range of sounds, funky rhythms, and experiments. Even with the melancholy nature of the lyrics, the playing is joyous and light, except when it needs to be heavy and foreboding (as in “Memories Can Wait”).

There’s only one track that doesn’t work – the album closer “Drugs”, though I get what they were after. It wouldn’t be the last time that a Talking Heads album closer misfired.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The basic tracks were recorded in two days in Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s loft.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an outtake and some alternate versions of tracks. 

GRADE: A: Another masterwork by the Talking Heads, who were just on top of their game.

Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food

ARTIST: Talking Heads                                                   220px-TalkingHeadsMoreSongsAboutBuildingsandFood

TITLE:  More Songs About Buildings and Food

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #29 US, #21 UK

SINGLES: Take Me to the River (#26)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Thank You For Sending Me an Angel, Found a Job, The Girls Want to Be with the Girls

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz. Brian Eno is also hands on as producer.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the Heads broaden the sound and styles while keeping the essence the same. A true winner.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The second album was not sophomore slump for David Byrne and the Talking Heads. Fully utilizing Jerry Harrison (a latecomer to the initial trio) and adding the guidance and ears of Brian Eno, Byrne and the band moved past the other CBGB’s bands into their own unique space.

Rhythm section Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz totally locked in and created rhythms and structure to underpin the new directions Byrne and Eno were leading the band. A track like “Warning Sign”, which it’s syncopation, gradual additions layers of guitars, synths and effects,and Byrne’s treated vocals, was ear opening, as people realized the Talking Heads weren’t just a quirky, jittery guitar band anymore. Weymouth was probably the hero of the album with solid, moving bass lines that anchor the songs and provide movement.

All eleven tracks are stellar – in fact the weakest cut may be their hit cover of “Take Me to the River” – that’s how strong the original songs are. This is a must have for any rock fan.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The backing vocals on “The Good Thing” were credited to “Tina and the Typing Pool”. It sounds like Tina and her sisters that would soon form the Tom Tom Club.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few alternate versions.

GRADE: A+:  This is the pinnacle, artistically, of the CBGB scene. Soon, the Talking Heads would move way past this.

Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77

ARTIST: Talking Heads 220px-Talking_Heads_77
TITLE: Talking Heads: 77
YEAR RELEASED: 1977
CHART ACTION: #97 US, #60 UK
SINGLES: Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town, Psycho Killer (#92), Pulled Up
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: New Feeling, The Book I Read, Don’t Worry About the Government
LINEUP: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Intelligent and arty CBGB band records an album full of inventive, observational songs backed with a spare production highlighted by Weymouth’s bass lines.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The songs are off-kilter, as are the vocals and lyrics. That’s the charm of this album, though. Nothing was really straight-forward even when it seemed so. Love songs have a twist and turn, there are songs about everyday life, such as reading a book or visiting someone at work.

Byrne’s vocals are the thing that stands out at first. A high warble that can at times go manic (like at the end of “Pulled Up”) or mysterious. Then when you hear the songs again, you notice that Frantz and Weymouth are locked in as a rhythm section, and Weymouth’s bass becomes a melodic anchor allowing the guitars to be mostly rhythm or melodic riffs.

It’s an excellent debut and is the basic building block for the Talking Heads. No matter what they would add to their mix, this is the sound of the band at its essence.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Byrne, Frantz and Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design. Harrison was in the Modern Lovers and joined the band right before they started to record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with singles and outtakes.

GRADE: A: It will take a few listens since it is slightly out-of-mainstream but once you get their direction of this album it will reveal its secrets.