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TALKING HEADS

Prog Related • United States


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Talking Heads biography
Formed in 1975 in New York City - 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 Weym...
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Stop Making Sense - Blu Ray (Restored & Ltd Edt Pa [Blu-ray]Stop Making Sense - Blu Ray (Restored & Ltd Edt Pa [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray · Import
Imports 2015
Blu-ray$12.08
$11.75 (used)
The Best of Talking HeadsThe Best of Talking Heads
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2004
Audio CD$5.03
$3.67 (used)
REMAIN IN LIGHT [Vinyl]REMAIN IN LIGHT [Vinyl]
Rhino Records 2006
Vinyl$16.83
$17.99 (used)
Talking Heads: 77 [180g Vinyl LP]Talking Heads: 77 [180g Vinyl LP]
Rhino Records 2009
Vinyl$16.96
$19.66 (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$11.76
$3.87 (used)
Speaking In Tongues (180 Gram Vinyl)Speaking In Tongues (180 Gram Vinyl)
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2013
Vinyl$14.22
$12.16 (used)
Fear of MusicFear of Music
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$5.03
$1.94 (used)
More Songs About Buildings And Food (180 Gram Vinyl)More Songs About Buildings And Food (180 Gram Vinyl)
Import
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2013
Vinyl$16.96
$9.56 (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$24.99
$3.16 (used)
Little CreaturesLittle Creatures
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$9.69
$2.50 (used)
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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)

3.72 | 93 ratings
Talking Heads: 77
1977
3.81 | 103 ratings
More Songs About Buildings And Food
1978
3.70 | 103 ratings
Fear Of Music
1979
4.16 | 195 ratings
Remain In Light
1980
3.65 | 88 ratings
Speaking In Tongues
1983
3.45 | 65 ratings
Little Creatures
1985
2.64 | 44 ratings
True Stories
1986
2.32 | 49 ratings
Naked
1988
1.93 | 16 ratings
The Heads: No Talking - Just Head
1996

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

3.94 | 33 ratings
The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
1982
3.53 | 38 ratings
Stop Making Sense
1984

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

4.52 | 27 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)

3.57 | 11 ratings
Sand In The Vaseline
1992

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Goes To Building On Fire
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pulled Up
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Psycho Killer
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Take Me To The River
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Good Thing
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Zimbra
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Air
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live On Tour
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cities
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Once In A Lifetime
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Houses In Motion
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Life During Wartime (Live)
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Take Me To The River (Live)
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Swamp
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Slippery People
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Burning Down The House
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Girlfriend Is Better
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Road To Nowhere
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Lady Don't Mind
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
And She Was
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Love For Sale
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Wild Wild Life
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Radio Head
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Blind
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
(Nothing But) Flowers
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Lifetime Piling Up
1992

TALKING HEADS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Stop Making Sense by TALKING HEADS album cover Live, 1984
3.53 | 38 ratings

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Stop Making Sense
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by poito

5 stars Maybe this is not the best selection of the many experimental lines explored by Byrne and company since mid-seventies, and may be this is the least Prog of their releases. But what the hell, it is not only a collection of their most digestible themes, they all are anthems of pop-art or whatever you call it. Even simple, this music is worshipped and has been contributed by dinosaurs as Fripp, Eno, and others, though they did not participate in the recording of this live collection. This album is universal. School teachers like it, and so do weight-lifters, iron maidens, catwomen, mad scientists and my neighbor upstairs. It must have something beyond catchy rhythms and suggestive lyrics. Just one for the road.
 Remain In Light by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.16 | 195 ratings

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Remain In Light
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I had weird expectations before listening to this TH album (a bit the same feeling before reviewing their prior album). My previous listenings (yes, I put this album three times before this review in a few days) dated from the time of purchase (which is date of release).

I remember that I reall didn't like this ''Remain In Light'' when I purchased it.

Actually, some thirty five years later, it doens't seem too bad after all. But, my problems are these (too) funky rhythms. The feeling starts with the opening number ''Born Under Punches'') and its follower '' Crosseyed and Painless''. At least both of them have a joyful chorus and are rather OK. But no more more.

The first track I really liked (and still do) is the following ''The Great Curve''. Although rather funky, it features a splendid and hypnotic beat. The longest track of this offering is also one of the best of it. Still, my preffered song is the catchy and melodic ''Once in a Lifetime''. Sounds have been taking out of their best record as far as I am concerned 'More Songs''. The highlight as far as I am concerned.

As Hughes as accordingly said in his good review (as always), the A-side of this vinyl album was usually the only one that was listened to. The flip side being rather hermetic to the early days fans (of which I fully belong).

It was really painful for me to listen to it in a row? In these ancient times as well as today.

Only one bearable song (''Houses In Motion''), a good one ''Listening Wind'' and two ''press next'' type of tunes. Especially the closing and dark '' The Overload''. Gosh!

In all, I was rather surprised with this listening soooooooo many years after my purchase. I would have easily rate this work with one star if I wouldn't have listened to it nowadays.

After doing this excerise, I will upgrade it from 2,5 to 3 stars. But the worse it about to come, unfortunately.

 Fear Of Music by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.70 | 103 ratings

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Fear Of Music
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In these late seventies, I was quiete into what was called the ''New Wave'' with several bands I have already lentioned in my earlier reviews. ''Talking Heads'' was one of them.

Since I really was charmed by their previous effort, there was no question about buying this one. Just until I heard ''I Zimbra''. The type of song I can't stand. Funky as crazy, absolutely no melody and every Fripp can't make it better. Another of this type will be featured later on this work (''Animals''). The lyrics though are rather disrespective about the animals in general. I don't aprreciate this.

Some excerpts : '' They say they don't need money, They're lvinign on nuts and berries, They say animals don't worry, You know animals are hairy? What the hell does this last sentence mean ? And this one '' They're never there when you need them, They never come when you call them''. So untrue.

Fortunately, my ''TH'' comes back with the next two tracks ''Mind'' and ''Papers'' which could have sit on their previous release (but not as highlights). Still, ''Papers'' is one of my fave here. The beat and the song construction is typical and it is a good feeling to listen to such pleasant track.

Hopefully, ''Cities'' is of the same vein. Actually, I was a bit worried when starting my review. My souvenir of this work was not excellent (to say the least). And since it must be some 35 years that I didn't listen to it, my memory didn't serve me well. Of course, there won't be many great songs featured here, unlike on their great ''More Songs''; but if you except the opener, so far this album is enjoyable.

''Life During Wartime'' is a little harder than usual (maybe the theme?). There's a blink to the famous CBGB where they played as early as 75. The lyrics though are rather incoherent and jumps cahotically from one subject to another.

My fave by far here is when I fully embrace the band again with the very catchy ''Air''. Same ingredients as before (rhtym, melody). A classic should I say.

I guess that the band wanted to make another ''Big Country'' while they play ''Heaven''. Even if it is not of the caliber of this great predecessor, I have to admit that it is quite a fine melodic song (but Byrne is of course a good songwriter).

The end of this album is less catchy and interesting to my ears. The closing ''Drug'' is rather dark (but with such a theme?).

This album holds of course no prog related music. According to my standards, I catalogued ''Talking Heads'' in 1977 as a New Wave band. And there is no reason to change this.

Three stars.

 More Songs About Buildings And Food by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.81 | 103 ratings

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More Songs About Buildings And Food
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars BUILDINGS ON FIRE !

This is by far my fave from the band.

Unlike many reviewers, I discovered them at the time of release and also witnessed a concert of them in Brussels in 1978. So, my feelings might differ of some other reviews?.

Actually my feeling about this great album hasn't change througout the years (some 40). From the opening track up to the closing number it is just a passionate succession of gorgeous songs.

I can't really make a difference between the first great songs of this album. The beat is consisting, melodies are top notch and lyrics (lots of them !) are rather interesting. Seven ofn these great ones are on par.

I have been listening to this great album countless times when I discovered it. And at this time of my review, Ihave to admit that the same feeling apply. Nessdeess to say that some tracks (two) which were never my cup of tea remain so ('' Found a Job'' and '' Take Me to the River''). They are ones of the longest ones of this offering and I never liked them.

While the closing starts though, I am just voiceless. This has always been my faveTH tracks. Such a beautiful melody, such a good rhythm , such a pleasant environment.

Each time that I listen to this great song, I just fall in love?.

GREAT ? Yes ! Superb ? Yes ! Five stars ? Yes !

 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.72 | 93 ratings

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Talking Heads: 77
Talking Heads Prog Related

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 !

 Speaking In Tongues by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.65 | 88 ratings

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Speaking In Tongues
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After putting out four full-length LPs in as many years the popular Talking Heads enterprise took three years off to recharge their flagging, tour-jaded batteries. While some fans were worried such a long hiatus might spell the end of the group, "Speaking in Tongues" quickly put such fears to rest. Electronic synth pop music was all the rage in 1983 but this brave outfit took it to another dimension due to their unabated pioneering spirit that kept them out on the cutting edge rather than becoming lost as an indefinable part of the mob. It was ensembles like Talking Heads that were just progressive enough to keep our beloved genre from disappearing beneath the tide of MTV- infected wannabes that flooded the music scene in the early 80s. All proggers owe them at least a modicum of gratitude for staying weird.

The record opens with the inimitable "Burning Down the House." It's an iconic tune that was able to successfully incorporate the more admirable aspects of the New Wave phenomenon without succumbing to its banality. Chris Frantz's roiling drum track and percussive synth injections give it an irresistible drive that's offset by ghostly incidental wafts of sounds and David Byrne's exaggerated vocals. The fact that it rose to #9 on the singles charts did wonders for the album's visibility and it still holds up today as a stunning piece of music. "Making Flippy Floppy" follows, a busy funk presentation augmented by a salvo of adventurous synth experimentations and unusual percussion instruments and/or effects. Another highlight of the album is "Girlfriend is Better." I so admire their dedication to establishing a strong foundational groove first, something extremely important too many of their peers were prone to overlook. This number has one that's a mile deep. David's highly individual vocal style adds to the track's undeniable mystique. "Slippery People" is next. While other New Wave acts were striving with all their might to be viewed as cute oddballs this band was happy to be wandering off on their own uncommercial tangent. Here they bring in an R&B spirit to flow atop a bubbly soundtrack, creating a decent meld of unexpected influences.

"I Get Wild - Wild Gravity" has a bit of a casual Ska feel to it that runs through the tune from beginning to end. There's a clean, minimalist mindset at work here I find intriguing, especially considering the stilted era it came out in. "Swamp" is one of the better cuts. It owns a loping shuffle that keeps things from becoming overly predictable and Byrne's half-spoken delivery creates a semi-bluesy atmosphere. Not run-of-the-mill fare by any means and I love the delicate bizarreness of it all. "Moon Rocks" marks the low point of the proceedings due to its ordinariness. It sounds as if they came up with a basic repeating pattern one night and then starting adding things along the way. It's not a deal-killer by any means but I can't find much to brag about it. They close with "Pull Up the Roots." It sports kind of a Prince-styled pop-ish rhythm that has the potential to become boring in a hurry but David's intertwining vocal lines on the chorus are inventive and they grant the song a certain distinction. Still, it falls a tad short of being remarkable.

"Speaking in Tongues" was released on May 31, 1983 and peaked at number 15. Not too shabby a showing after the quartet had been somewhat invisible for three years. It was also done without the production genius of Brian Eno (who had moved on to help mold U2 into an industry juggernaut). Standing on its own it's not going to blow any proggers away but when analyzed in the context of what was going on in music in 1983 it deserves to be afforded a certain amount of respect for its character alone. 3.2 stars.

 Fear Of Music by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.70 | 103 ratings

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Fear Of Music
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars To me, Talking Heads have always been a band that is fascinating. I have always found their music to be groundbreaking in a sense that they were taking the so called "new wave" music to a higher level. Unfortunately, a lot of bands at that time could not follow in their footsteps. They were stretching the boundaries of the music that would become popular in the 80s, and they took a lot of their inspiration seemingly from Bowie and Ferry. With the help of Brian Eno, they elevated their sound above and beyond the cookie cutter sound that the bands of that era were trying to make, usually only ending up with one song that would become a hit and then falling into obscurity.

There is a lot of people that would argue about their inclusion on the Archives. But those that say TH (and many others) don't belong here are not really understanding what the sub genre is that they are put under which is Prog Related. That term means that they are not prog, but they have some relationship to progressive music because of certain band members or because of the influence they had on progressive bands (and there is a long list of other reasons if you read the definition...click on the link in the PA header labeled in yellow "Prog Related" and you'll better understand why they and many other bands are included on PA).

So most of us know how TH is related to prog, but for those that don't just know that Adrian Belew played with TH for a while. He played for Frank Zappa for a short time (during the "Shiek Yerbouti" years) and with King Crimson for many years. Speaking of King Crimson, Robert Fripp (KCs creator and amazing guitarist) plays on this album, namely on "I Zimbra" which is the opener. This is a spirited opener with the rhythms based on a tribal rhythm which David Byrne would go on to explore more later. To me, the best TH songs are the ones with the straightforward "disco-like" beat. Now, I hate disco, I just want to make that clear. But it is those songs that I like best from TH. This particular album is built upon disco influenced rhythms and cinematic themescapes. But TH has been considered by many to be the anti-disco band, so go figure. I think the attractive thing to me is like I said previously, that they built upon the sounds that were prevalent at the time.

This particular album is pretty good, but has very little progressive music in it, so don't expect that. But you will hear some original sounds and timbres and explorations. This is what makes the band fascinating to me. They took quite a risk with messing around with the popular sound of their day, but it worked for them. They are one of the few really respected "new wave" movement bands that are around and currently still respected. When I find a band that beats the odds like this, I am interested in what made them that way. This shows a lot more in this album as TH searches and in this album, finds their sound. The originality and the way the pushed the barriers of the 80s new wave movement gives me respect for them. I don't consider them one of my favorites, but I do respect them and enjoy their upbeat music (especially the live album "Stop Making Sense") when I am in that kind of mood. Overall, I can't really seem to give this album more the 3 stars even though there are a few excellent songs here, I tend to lose interest in the album before it reaches the last 3 or 4 songs. It always starts strong for me, but weakens through the last half of the album.

 The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads by TALKING HEADS album cover Live, 1982
3.94 | 33 ratings

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The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
Talking Heads Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Let down by variable sound quality on the source recordings, The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads is otherwise a decent live summation of the early Talking Heads sound. Unlike Stop Making Sense, it doesn't present a whole show, rather than a grab-bag of snippets from shows ranging from 1977 to 1981. On the one hand, this does mean that the album lacks the cohesiveness that a single show would offer. On the other hand, it does give the listener the chance to hear how the band's live sound evolved alongside its studio advances. Frankly, I tend to find that the best material on here is the earliest - in particular, there's a dynamite version of Psycho Killer on here - whereas the group would struggle to recreate some of their later studio weirdness in a live context (though David Byrne gives it a good college try).

Recent rereleases of this expand the track list from an already overlong but just about bearable 17 tracks to a downright ridiculous 33 tracks, which I found downright impossible to sit through.

 Talking Heads: 77 by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.72 | 93 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

 Remain In Light by TALKING HEADS album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.16 | 195 ratings

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Remain In Light
Talking Heads Prog Related

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.

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

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