So. We’re kicking off a 4 month classic album stint with Talking Heads. Ah, Talking Heads. The band that everyone knows but no one knows. The band who’ve influenced everyone and yet so many people are a bit wary of. I think it’s the fault of the A word.
ART. It’s that rock meets art thing. Maybe Bowie has that reputation too. And when people here about art-rock, they start thinking about concept albums or high-minded dense songs with no tunes or lyrics about Tibet or women in art galleries with dark lipstick and loud voices. And you end up thinking THIS ISN’T ROCK MUSIC. Where’s the sex? Where’s the grit? Where’s the dirt? WHERE’S THE FUN?
Choosing a TH album was always going to be tricky – like Bowie, they’ve had a long career in many guises. And as with my Bowie choice, I could probably have gone for something ‘easier’. Their debut, Talking Heads 77 is probably their most poppy, or perhaps their swansong Naked. But you want the best, right? Well I reckon you’re looking at it right here.
OK. Two rules to this album:
1) You read the Wikipedia page about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remain_in_light
2) You listen to the whole thing 3 times before responding.
Why? Well, it’s an album you need to invest in, like so many of the best are. And the unusually excellent Wikipedia gives you a really fantastic sense of how this album came about. This is a band who were pushing at the musical straitjacket they’d made for themselves and suddenly found a whole new sound. I still think that marriage of African rhythms and the edgy New York paranoia of the band is so fresh, it’s startling. It was a sonic leap forward like nothing else for the band and that sense of excitement comes right off the songs.
The other interesting thing to note is the presence of Eno. He’s such an influence on this album. What a presence he was in the 70s and 80s on so many musicians, pushing them into new territories. He is of course the link to Bowie, with whom he also worked during his Berlin period.
Before I fell for this album, I knew Once In A Lifetime but none of the rest of the album – maybe as you do right now. You’d think there was nothing to add about the incredible awesomness of that song, an astonishing record that manages to be a party favourite that questions your entire existence. But when I first heard in the *context* or the rest of the album, I suddenly got it in an entirely different light.
I hope you too find the light and remain in it. 😉