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Ben Kramer <firstname.lastname@example.org> (20.12.2002)
Well, I definitely see where you are coming from, but I would easily give these guys a 4, and if they had a few more albums out, I could probably give them a 5. Yes, Talking Heads are one of my favorite bands, and I probably like them more than anyone in the WRC with the exception of Rich Bunnell, but I seriously love these guys to death. Fear of Music is my favorite 1979 album, Little Creatures is my favorite 1985 album, and Remain In Light is the greatest album made since Before & After Science, and in many respects it is better! Hell, Speaking In Tongues shows that Talking Heads could create a classic that sounded somewhat normal. Yeah, I'm biased, and I really don't care. Their weird sound is phenomenal, the pop is catchy and in many ways, mature, and I just love Byrne's lyrics. They kind of lost it on the last two albums, but six solid records in a row, and one of the greatest 4 album stretches I've ever heard more than makes up for it. Here is my general evaluation for Talking Heads:
Listenability - 5/5 - only denied the + because of True Stories.
Resonance - 3/5 - well, they kind of lose here, but their atmosphere brings them back up
Originality - 5/5 - yup, no one sounded remotely like them before, and there hasn't been a band like them since.
Adequacy - 4/5 - Docking a point for True Stories. Well, half a point, then a quarter of a point for side two of Naked. That rounds down to a 4
Diversity - 3/5 - Really, their only diverse albums are Fear of Music and Remain In Light, but if you look at their whole career, a lot has been accomplished.
Overall - 4.0 = 4 on the rating scale
So call me a nut, or a fan. I don't care, these guys fookin' rule! And they are still growing on me! Particularly my favorite, Remain In Light, which might be in my top 10 at the moment. It's a shame that the Tom Tom club sucks so much. I thought Tina and Chris would have learned something from Dave. Guess not, but David Byrne is still a hell of a song writer.
Heh, after listening all Talking Heads albums I decide to write somewhat comments. First, when I put Remain In Light into my cd-player, I was seriously surprised. What the hell is this stuff I asked myself. Indeed, album sounds like Alpha Centauri music, very idiosyncratic and innovative. I liked that stuff and after used to listen carefully Talking Heads for a long time. So I think that the group is seriously good, but why it s somewhat overrated by you and some of your worthy commentators. My favourites bands are Beatles, Who, Dylan, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Sparks, CCR (and a lot of others). Talking Heads output (at best) can t equal in terms of enjoyability and musical value to the best output of anyone from these bands. Here are my ideas about the albums:
Very nice debut (half of songs are good), Byrne s singing is ever resonating, music is very simple (but not all of good albums must be twisted and complex as hell), optimistic songs enjoy my soul, and new style is present. Overall rating: 12/15.
Fernando H. Canto <email@example.com> (18.07.2004)
This album deeply satisfies the nerd inside of me. Yup. Very different, unique record. I... I simply love it! I didn't have high expectations for it, but I was dumb. This record is awesome. Every single song is catchy, intelligent and special in some way. Every one of them! Yes, even the stupid 'Who Is It?", because it's stupid in a... smart way. I'm really hooked by these unpredictable, maddeningly addictive melodies and hooks, David's vocal acrobatics, the clever guitar work and those strange breaks in the music - like the marching sections on 'Tentative Decisions', the Naa Naa Naa Naa in 'The Book I Read', the French blabber in 'Psycho Killer'... you know, very unique stuff. I really like David's delivery in 'Pulled Up', especially when he roars while (apparently) slamming his feet on the ground, going "Pull me UP, pull me Uuuu-Uuuu-Uuuu-Uuuup!!!" 'Uh Oh Love Comes To Town', 'New Feeling', 'First Day / Last Day... Carefree', 'Psycho Killer'... heck, most of this stuff qualifies as GREAT, and I really like 'Happy Day'. And what's interesting is that this already predicts the songwriting style they would employ in More Songs About Buildings And Food. They just needed Eno's production tricks to go on full throttle... granted, I enjoy this one more than More Songs About Buildings And Food. 13/15!
Ben Greenstein <firstname.lastname@example.org> (18.10.2000)
I'm very fond of this album, but I do agree that it's overrated. It's far from their best work when compared to the three studio albums (and two great live ones) that followed. I know what you're saying about the "Big Drone," and I like that bit every bit as much as you do, but for me, the best part of the album is the bit at the end which you don't care for. "Take Me To The River" is very slinky, with a lot of neat production tricks that make it interesting to listen to - provided you listen close. It's tons better than the millions of other covers of it in existence. And "The Big Country" is actually the most melodically defined song on the album - more emphasis on melody than rhythm, for once. The wierd noise-fest that dominates the rest of the album is still great, though - no one does rhythm like the Heads do rhythm. A lowish 9/10.
Philip Maddox <email@example.com> (18.10.2000)
My Heads collection is far from complete (I have a double disc greatest hits album, this, Stop Making Sense, and Little Creatures), but I do plan on getting more soon. This album is considered the Heads' masterpiece by a bunch of people, but it isn't all THAT good. It IS still quite good, worthy of a low 8/10. Those 8 songs in the middle certainly don't sound any different from each other (the fact that I have this on vinyl and there's a split between 'Job' and 'Artists' doesn't help), but they're all catchy and funky and wiggly and all that, so i dig 'em, especially that awesome chorus on 'The Good Thing', the really awkward 'With Our Love', and the herky-jerky 'Stay Hungry', but individual songs don't really matter. 'Angel' is my favorite track on here - catchy, memorable, and actually distinctive. I like 'The Big Country' too. I've always found its atmosphere to be quite charming and the lyrics are absolutley great. I definately agree about 'Take Me To The River' being overrated, though - it's good, but it's also my least favorite song here (out of the 3 regular ones and the 1 big one). The original is more soulful and, well, better. Still, no real complaints about this album (except that it all sounds very similar).
Rich Bunnell <firstname.lastname@example.org> (18.10.2000)
Sorry to go with the majority, but you ripped on the two best songs, George! I never noticed the "Get Back" comparison until you brought it up, and now that you mention it the songs have basically the same rhythm track, but "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" is still a jovial, upbeat way to begin any listening experience. "Well you can (BAM!) WALK! You can (BAM!) TALK just like meeee!" As for "Take Me To The River," the Heads weren't TRYING to sound soulful, they were trying to do a drugged-out version of an originally-soulful track, and the result is a mini-masterpiece. The rest of the album is very similar in quality - the relentless groove of "Found A Job" just clinka-clunks straight into your soul, and "With Our Love" is uneasy-sounding, bizarre, and awesome. Aside from the pretentious lyrics, though, I've never seen the appeal of the overrated "The Big Country" - the song doesn't go anywhere. Otherwise, this stuff is top-notch. I'm really glad you didn't join the More Songs-bashing club like every other reviewer on the planet did, because dammit, it's a good album. A nine.
P.S. Wait a minute....you didn't bash "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel." I just didn't read carefully enough. Stupid me, I'm gonna go stand in the corner now.
Mike Pankrast <HanzDaBird@aol.com> (18.11.2000)
This is my first time writing to you. I'm using my roomate Adrian's email. He's written to you on several occasions. Anyways, I love the fact that the Talking Heads are included in your library of album reviews. I became a Talking Heads fan immediately after seeing "Stop Making Sense". What a piece of work that was! I own True Stories, Naked, Speaking In Tongues, The Name of this Band is Talking Heads and their Greatest Hits collection. I went out and got this one on vinyl when I read your review. Upon listening to it a few times (I've yet to dig deeper), I agree on several of your points and I disagree about several of your points. I agree that melodies seemed to be an afterthought (especially upon comparing later melodies like "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" and "Girlfriend Is Better". After hearing songs like that you know the melodies could have been better. A point I disagree with is that it is all about guitars. Sure, the guitars are wonderful and unique. But I must defend Tina's bass lines. I would disagree that they are "pleasant decorations". I believe that Tina's bass lines have, from the beginning until the end of the band, helped to not only decorate the sound, but carry the band. She provided such a solid ground that they could build on. If anything, the beautiful guitar work on this album helped to "decorate" a very sturdy canvas that is Talking Heads. I give this album 9/10.
Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (22.12.2001)
I worked my way backwards from this one, and, in retrospect, the Heads were still in a growing stage at this point. My favorites are two which showed up in Stop Making Sense, the hilarious "Angel" , & the even more hilarious "Found A Job." Great lyrics -- maybe if you'd had grown up on a junk food diet of American sitcoms, George, you'd appreciate it more. And I also gotta love the last two songs -- I like the way that they make "River" into a dark, paranoid song (the two subsequent live versions go back to Green's original, more upbeat gospel feel). And I don't think "The Big Country" goes on too long at all -- the slightly lengthy coda only serves to reemphasize Byrne's sarcasm. A lot of the rest of the album - - such as "Artists Only" -- is a bit too herky-jerky and quirky for it's own good. Like you said, sometimes they care more about being odd than being musical. Still, it's a real eye-opener as a pop album.
Blah disappointment, may be the band was in transition? Repetitive, irritating music. No beauty. Guitar / keybs interplay and nothing more. Overall rating: 9/15.
Rich Bunnell <email@example.com> (25.11.2000)
I agree that on first listen this stuff sounds horrible, but MAN, does it get better. I count one weak song - "Electric Guitar" - and ten absolute froggin' classics. The best part of this album is hearing how Byrne rants about every one of the one-word topics. I mean, air?? Byrne's scared of air? PAPER?? Did he get cut as a kid during a second-grade math assignment? I have to concede that the best song is "Life During Wartime," even though I've heard it on the radio about fifty times (yes, they play it on the radio), though "Cities," "I Zimbra" and "Drugs" are some of the greatest, most paranoid songs the band ever wrote. My lyrical favorite is "Animals," though - not only are the lyrics hilarious ("The animals...they're laughing at us! They don't even know...what a JOKE is!"), the melody is catchy! Yeah, I find that melody catchy. Whatcha gonna do about it? The album gets a nine, and not a ten because of the epochal album that came immediately afterward. But man, is this good stuff. Prindle really needs to listen to it a few more times if he finds this weak.
Michael J. West <firstname.lastname@example.org> (23.01.2001)
The point that everyone seems agreed upon is that this is one of the toughest first listens on wax; one of the toughest second and third listens too. But around the fourth it starts to really click! There's always been something that I loved about "I Zimbra," and of course "Life During Wartime" is cool...all the stuff that made it into the Heads' early CBGBs sets stands out, and this one is no exception.
On the other hand, I have forever thought, and continue to think, that "Electric Guitar" is the worst Talking Heads song ever--and I mean that to the point that I would take any song on the True Stories disc over it. Ugh.
Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (27.12.2001)
The album is much darker and denser than the last two, but the melodies, like you said are much stronger, so the album is, paradoxically, more accessible at the same time. Byrne seems to be pretty tongue-in-cheek on most of these songs -- I think. The funk/African influences are much better incorporated in "Life During Wartime" (which is a much gloomier song than it's hyper-catchy chorus would indicate) and "I Zimbra" (a nonsense Dadaist poem set by Byrne and Eno to music) than in "Found a Job" or "Take me to the River." The latter, in particular, was a terrific live number.
But "this is the most perfect and adequate artistic statement that the band ever produced"? I think you need to relisten to the next album again..
Fernando H. Canto <email@example.com> (18.01.2004)
I'm often intrigued by why people constantly refer to this record as "creepy", "ominous", "gloomy", etc. I agree it's rather strange and disturbing, but it's rather playful, and even goofy, at parts. This isn't the kind of suicidal paranoia you'd get from Dark Side Of The Moon. This is really a very, very geeky look at life. I've been reading some thoughts on Byrne's lyrics, and the "Fear of this-and-that" concept kinda works, indeed. It's not like the narrator is *scared* of paper, cities, animals, etc. Byrne just wants to tell that you can, over time, reach such a situation that even air can hurt you - in a psychological way. Whatever. Each one can get his interpretation from the album, anyway. The lyrics are extremely well written, and the culmination is, in my opinion, 'Life During Wartime'. Painfully realistic! And the music? Hooray, this is cool. I was intrigued by the music right from the start. I *knew* this was great stuff, and with time, I managed to get a grip of it and simply enjoy this stuff. 'Memories Can't Wait' is a favourite of mine. *That* is a creepy song, if you want to. I *love* that finale! 'I Zimbra', 'Heaven', 'Cities', 'Animals'... all absolute classics. Even the "minor" stuff like 'Paper', 'Mind' and 'Air' also rules. My least favourite is definitely 'Electric Guitar'. Doesn't do anything in particular, really! And 'Drugs' is great. You gotta agree that atmosphere and rhythm is rather unique. This is easily a 13/15 in my book, if not a 14/15, even.
More serious concept, but as whole album isn t that easy accessible as you say. 'I Zimbra', 'Cities', 'Air', 'Heaven' are good, but I don t feel that this album deserves a lot listening as whole, as anyone great album. Overall rating: 11/15.
Ralph Szafranski <firstname.lastname@example.org> (10.08.2004)
Actually, according to the liner notes Robert Fripp actually played guitar on 'I Zimbra'; explaining the similarity between 'I Zimbra' and 'Discipline'.
Henrik Larsen <email@example.com> (23.01.2001)
('The Overload'): Did the band rip off Joy Division with this song? I suspect so.
Rich Bunnell <firstname.lastname@example.org> (23.01.2001)
Yeah, like I'm going to offer a dissenting opinion on this one. This is easily the greatest achievement of both the Heads and Eno and one of the best albums of the '80s. At first, this seems like kind of a heady title (no pun intended) to bestow upon the album, as the pop songs sound pretty much like the ones of yore (but with more repetitive instrumentation) and the slower, draggier numbers aren't very instantly appealing, but ye gods, this stuff grows on you. I'm a bit surprised at the title of "best song" being placed on "The Great Curve," but that's not that it's a bad song or anything. On the contrary, it's one of Byrne's most successful fusions of world beat and rock (to see some of his least successful, please consult his solo album Rei Momo.). It's just that I find it hard not to call "Once In A Lifetime" the best song on any given album that it happens to be on. Sure, it's the single, and by far the poppiest song, but it's so memorable and PERFECT in every way that none of this matters.
Sure, the second half of the album isn't as immediately memorable, but it's arguably just as enduring. "Houses In Motion" is very far from filler in my book, and "The Listening Wind" is probably the peak of the band's tenure with Eno with regard to pure bleak atmosphere. I can't even write anymore without repeating myself. This album is WONDERFUL. Maybe I'm overrating it, but to me it's everything people say about it and more. I'd give it a 10/10, and keep in mind that my band rating for the Heads is a 5 (if the Who can get a 5 regardless of their weak later albums, so can the Heads) so that's a 15 there, buddy.
Great review, by the way. And yeah, New Wave wasn't really an influence on anything really good, but I'm still glad it was there.
Richard C. Dickison <Randomkill@earthlink.net> (17.02.2001)
Great Album, one of the few that I stick on and I am caught all the way through.
Hey, my attention span is shrinking these days.
Eno really added to the group and made them an artistic force.
I honestly think between this album, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, and Peter Gabriels Security, things got more interesting in the mainstream.
A definate plus in my book. Where Brian Eno walks I shall follow.
Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (27.12.2001)
An utterly brilliant album. A masterwork, and a close tie with the third Peter Gabriel album for best rock record from 1980. And lest you think I gush too much, I'll start off by saying that I do hate the droning bore "The Overload" which may be my least favorite TH song. It shouldn't be here -- it just doesn't sound like anything else on the album. Sometimes, experiments should be left on the shelf. Drags the record down a point, I'm afraid.
But the rest of this stuff -- mind boggling. Although the funk/African influences are everywhere, this doesn't come close to describing the range of sound in the songs. Eno called at the time as an "African psychedelic collision," and that almost does it. And Byrne's lyrics - -which range from his usual whimsicality to dark paranoia to cosmic abstraction -- are perfect. I totally agree that "The Great Curve" is the best song -- my favorite of all their songs. And you can actually sing and dance to it. Although "Listening Wind," with it's story about a terrorist, is a lot more disturbing now than it was when it was released...
This just doesn't sound like any album released by anyone before or since, including the Heads themselves. I could hardly wait for what they would come up with next at the time. But then they (everyone but Byrne, that is) had a falling out with Eno, feeling he had too much control. Without him, there was no way they could come up with another work of genius like this. Which is one reason the next studio album would be a very different animal.
Ben Kramer <email@example.com> (30.03.2002)
I do love Fear of Music, but the critics are right about this album, it is their best. Furthermore, I would like to nominate the album for best album of the 1980's (if 1980 counts as the 1980's, the decade technically starts in 1981 because there was no year zero and all of the technical shit. Screw that, it was a great album). Furthermore, it is probably the best album since Pink Floyd's Animals with the exception of maybe Peter Gabriel's Us or some Zappa album which I won't count yet because all of the Zappa albums I have but one were made before 1980. What puts this ahead of Fear of Music is that the Heads created a totally unique sound which I personally like and that changed how music was created. Sure, the guys influenced techno, but everybody influenced everybody. I don't care that techno is the result of 'The Great Curve', it is still a wonderful song with an awesome funky melody and insightful lyrics (a nice positive characteristic of Byrne is his lyrics). 'Cross Eyed And Painless' and 'Born Under Punches' are two other favorite of mine, not too different from one another, but Eno's production along with some cool instrumentals have won me over. Closing side one is the Heads biggest hit 'Once In A Lifetime', not my favorite Talking Heads song, but a song that always brings a smile to my face when I hear it on the radio. Side two is weaker, like you mentioned, but not by much. For one, it contains my personal favorite song on the album, 'Listening Wind'. Why? I don't know. I guess the repetitiveness of the melody hypnotized me into liking it. The lyrics also grab me. Also, on your comment on 'Houses In Motion' being filler. Well, yeah, it is, but it is the kind of filler that you like to hear. The song stands well on its own, but I don't know about it being where it is on the album. Sort of like 'Is It In My Head' on Quadrophenia. Filler by definition, but listen to the song alone and I guarantee that few will be disappointed. 'The Overload' does seem a little too long to me, but only by a minute or so. I mean, it is after 'Listening Wind' and it is eerily similar because it has a relatable tone to it (sort of like all of side two). I have heard people describe it as scary. Hmm, not scary, though the instrumentals are depressing. As for a number grade, a 14 sounds appropriate, because there are no bad songs, there are so many great songs, and it has a unique sound that I love.
This comment was inspired by the Talking Heads getting in the hall of fame a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully, George, in the near future, you will vote them into your hall of fame, which is definitely much more accurate (Come on, Aerosmith, The Eagles, no Yes, no Genesis, no prog in general...). I love the fact that you put Genesis in.
Fernando H. Canto <firstname.lastname@example.org> (18.01.2004)
... ... you know? I just can't make up my mind on this one. Sure it's dang addictive. Those four first songs keep returning to my head every minute, and those four last songs always manage to make a good impression on me when I listen to them. But taken on a whole... I don't think this album is as superb as Fear Of Music is. It doesn't have an, you know, *meaning*, as the former had. It doesn't seem to serve an overall function, whatever function it is. It is mostly there to display the rhythm, the tricks, the interaction of sounds, and to be interesting. But they're certainly great! Those three first songs? You can't dance to them, even if you tried! 'Born Under Punches' is way too heavy with stuff, 'Crosseyed And Painless' is... well, Crosseyed and Painfull, and 'The Great Curve' is too FAST! All great songs, though. I would pick the first one as my favourite in the record. I can't hold 'Once In A Lifetime' as such a masterpiece, but I do enjoy it greatly. There is nothing wrong with it, it just doesn't seem to cut me very deeply. And the slower songs? They're all very good. I like the soft intensity of 'Seen And Not Seen' (and all those things David is saying about changing your face) and the intense softness of 'Listening Wind'. Well... I guess this is really it. I love the production work, and the band itself is as tight as ever. It's a 13, alright. It's just not solid enough to rank up as highly as Fear Of Music.
The best effort from the band the first side of the album is marvelous, but the second bores me a lot. Errr. You said enough about that, only I think that you overrated (slightly) the album and the band too. Overall rating: 12/15.
Dave Dickson <email@example.com> (15.10.2005)
Really? I always kinda thought they shot at the same time. At least in the latest "new edition" I had--sure, TECHNICALLY, Greedo gets a shot off .00001 second before Han looses his, but it just seems more exciting to think of it that way. Kinda like the opening scene of The Good the Bad and the Ugly, or the famous shooting halfway through Shane, may that movie burn in soundstage hell. Anyhoo, what I'm REALLY trying to say here is, I'm a nerdus dorkus malorkus who cares about stupid things that are stupid. Three cheers for My Nerdness. And everyone else's. May it blaze across the imaginary cosmos. Yee-haw.
Speaking of which, I always thought disc 2 was the better of the bunch. It just sounds fuller, cooler, more thicker and cacophonic, in a way. And Adrian Belew's my guitar hero. Better than any of their first four albums, this is. But not as good as Little Creatures, because I'm crazy. YABBALABBALAYAYADJASJKDHAJH !!. . .
And David Byrne IS Brian Eno. Haven't you heard "Heal Dat Nig, SK!" from Before and After Science? I rest my case.
Despite Jerry Harrison's remark that his family can see the band for the first time, wasn't their performance of 'Burning Down the House' on that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction thing totally hacked out? On Stop Making Sense, they sound energetic as usual. On the RnRHoF, they're so catatonic and just going through the motions, as if "This is the only song by us anyone knows. We have to do it for them. Yay". They actually played faster toward the end; must have been happy it was over. Fortunately they did better on 'Life During Wartime'.
After Remain In Light all this late albums were disappointing to me. That s one is pretty generic album, but the band couldn t fall quick, fortunately. Overall rating: 10/15.
Nathaniel Freedman <firstname.lastname@example.org> (20.02.2006)
Some interesting backstory to my take on this album: This was actually the second Heads album I got, after Stop Making Sense, the original release. I actually bought it along with another album that was the second one I got from another musician. That album was Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, by Alanis. I also got a book with that, a collection of stories by H.P. Lovecraft, my first thorough exposure to Lovecraft. This was on vacation at a younger age, and as a result all three of these media have elements that remind me of the other two. Some of the songs on Speaking in Tongues are even evocative of the claustrophobicly synthetic atmosphere of Supposed, particularly "I Get Wild." That one, though, is actually sort of agoraphobic in atmosphere, which somehow has the same effect. This leads into my first point.
I disagree when you say that most of the album lacks atmosphere. I think every song has echo added to it to make it feel like they are playing in space or some sort of empty wasteland. There is a creepy element of isolation to this whole album, which comes close to drowning out the idea that I think is the big reason for their "regression," as you put it.
That idea is Neo-Disco. They took disco, moved the synthesizers to the background and only brought them out for the the occasional solo, and made distorted guitars a central part of the sound, and then threw down layers-upon-layers of poly-rhythms. 'Pull Up The Roots' is what the sound they made would sound like in typical diso style. Unfortunately, this whole enterprise is for naught, as the previously mentioned isolation of sound overshadows any sort of disco-like vibe they are trying to get going.
The prime example of this is the nearly 6 minutes of 'Girlfriend is Better', surely one of the limpest "rockers" ever made by the Talking Heads. Almost all the songs on this album are over 5 minutes, but to me it only catches up with this song. The vocals are lacking intensity, and the guitars are leashed. They also went way too much into weird synth sounds. The whole thing was done much better in Stop Making Sense, but as you note, they have given up on guitar as the mjor element of music at that point.
Bob Josef <email@example.com> (22.06.2005)
I really think you underrate this one, maybe because you haven't seen the film, which I have to agree is part of the overall experience. And I guess that you don't like the Heads taking a more poppy, lighter approach. Nonetheless, I think this a powerful and really fun album. For one thing, I think "What a Day That Was"and the tracks from Speaking in Tongues sound tons better than the studio versions. They rock so much harder! They still can't really make the songs from Remain in Light sound the same live, but the group sounds far more comfortable with the bigger band sound than they did in The Name Band is.. period. (Having seen the band myself in 1982, I can further attest to this). Although the way the synths come cascading in at the end of "Once in a Lifetime" is very neat! The low point for me is "Genius of Love", but it does at least fit in with the sound of the rest of the album, and further proves that the Tom Tom Club was a big influence on ..Tongues.
Anyway, it's a classic album, and seeing the movie should encourage you to bump the rating. The new CD does include all the songs from the film, but the DVD also includes two outtakes, "Cities" and an extended medley of "Big Business" (again, from The Catherine Wheel) and "I Zimbra". Because they were outtakes, they don't look or sound quite as good as the stuff in the film proper, but they're still more than worthwhile.
Nathaniel Freedman <firstname.lastname@example.org> (19.09.2006)
I think your review of this album is fine, and it is certainly correct in ranking this below Fear of Music and RIL, as well as The Name... However, I have a few personal opinions about this album I want to share.
I think two individual reasons this album suffers a lot in comparison to The Name... are that it lacks the range of creativity that live album had, due to the limited song selection, and the solos aren't as good as they are on The Name... However, everything from Speaking in Tongues has much more energy here because the agoraphobia they created in the studio is gone, and I think the only song on here from that album that I prefer the studio version of is "Making Flippy Floppy," because it is actually a very strange diatribe against the late-Ronald Reagan, and it worked well with a pseudo-scary concise production. (And they say "Making Flippy Flop" on the album, which seems more reasonable. Yeah, still don't make no sense.) Also, I miss the weird mumbling intro to "Swamp." Fortunately, I have both albums on CD.
I believe that a big reason the keyboards work here is that the Talking Heads probably had more experience with keyboards than any guitar-based band ever. Jerry Harrison would often play the clavinet or piano, Brian Eno's work with all manner of electronica is well-known, they had already worked with Bernie Worrell on more than one album, and had toured with him extensively, and knew exactly what they wanted him to do at this concert.
Also, a big plus for the album that makes me want to say that this album is a solid 12/15 is that David Byrne's voice here is incredible. Sure, his lack of professionalism early on was fun, but in Stop Making Sense he hits all the notes, and not only that, his slightly warbling singing and strange intonations lends a sort of power to the songs, which I think is similar to and completely different from what Jim Morrison did with his singing. For someone who digged David Byrnes weirdness from the first time I heard him, this is awesome. I agree that The Name... blows this away, and I listen to that much more often than this live album, but this is definitely a guilty pleasure, except I don't feel guilty about it at all. Yes, I have no shame! To quote Swamp: "Hiiiii, hi hi hi hi hi, hiiii! Hiiii!"
P.S. This album, and this album alone, has the Talking Heads' greatest version of "Take Me To The River." Also, I've heard the Al Green original, and it isn't soul, it's mid-tempo boogie!
Ben Kramer <email@example.com> (02.07.2002)
This is definitely not a back track. I mean, it is the closest The Talking Heads have gotten to '77 after the album's release, but during that time period where Byrne got four albums worth of experience, The Talking Heads matured. No, they weren't mature the way they were on Fear of Music, an album where David Byrne wrote some great lyrics, but didn't resonate with the listener. I'm not saying David Byrne is Bob Dylan on Little Creatures, but he gains a few points in that area for this album, particularly on songs like 'And She Was', and 'Road To Nowhere'. This is mature the way Let It Be is mature - mature from experience.
Also, yes, this is pop, but a lot of bands did pop. Abba and Fleetwood Mac did pop. This is better than anything I have heard from either of those bands. This isn't just pop, it is excellent pop, maybe comparable to The Who Sell Out, or once again, Let It Be. Songs like 'Walk It Down', 'The Lady Don't Mind', and 'Television Man' go beyond what is just solid pop, and they take you to another world, a world where the music sounds heavenly, and a world where so many different styles are mixed together in order to create this heavenly sound. People also complain that this is The Talking Head's sell out album. Well, so what. How the public reacts to an album has no effect on its quality (I'm not saying you put this down because of that. I am just making a general statement.).
Nine perfect pop songs, with so much depth, and so many ideas is what you find here. The songs are the catchiest songs The Talking Heads have ever done. 'Walk It Down' has a brilliant chorus, and this is definitely the most overlooked song The Talking Heads have ever done. 'Television Man', has a catchy melody, and then it goes into that awesome middle section with Frantz getting his first solo of The Talking Heads career. 'And She Was' has arguably the simplest, yet catchiest melodies ever done by The Talking Heads. 'Stay Up Late' may have ridiculous lyrics (Though they are pretty funny.), yet once again, David Byrne wrote an excellent melody, and a great chorus. That's what this album is really about, catchy melodies. That alone probably earns this a high 12 or a low 13. The extras, such as that "Na na na na na na" section in 'Television Man', the dank atmosphere of 'The Lady Don't Mind', and the beautiful vocals on 'Road To Nowhere' are what push this to a 14 for me. I know I'm alone on that issue, but then again, a lot of people in the WRC are alone on a lot of issues, so I don't mind. This is a spectacular collection of pop songs, and if Remain In Light had never been released, or if it didn't have such wonderful Eno work, this would not only be the best Talking Heads album, yet it would arguably the best album of the 1980's.
Why it is so good as you say? Simplistic as hell pop music from the Eighties. I seem to be allergic to this kind of music. Nevertheless, 'And She Was' and 'The Lady Don t Mind' are good songs. Overall rating: 8/15.
Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (29.04.2003)
Totally agreed, unjustly bashed, even by Byrne himself, because he wanted to put out the actor's versions instead. I suppose the critics got it because it was the only time the band sidestepped in its evolution -- the record is pretty much an even simpler version of Little Creatures. But, as you said, that's not that bad. The sounds are catchy, full of hooks and would have been very fun if the band got to perform them live.
As for the film versions, there is absolutely no big deal. Three of them are just as they are on the album, with Byrne's vocals ("Wild, Wild Life," "Love For Sale" and "City of Dreams"). The rest just have the actors singing the lead vocals over the same Talking Heads backing tracks. Their vocals range from merely competent to terrible (the guy singing "Puzzling Evidence" is just awful). Two of these were actually released as single B-sides. "Hey, Now," on the flip of "Love For Sale," just has the kids on the lead as well as the backing vocals. "People Like Us," on the flip of "Wild, Wild Life," has John Goodman singing lead, which makes the song sound even more C&W, and is the best of the actor's performances. But why bother, when you've got a good Talking Heads album, even without the movie.
The same generic product. No standouts here, but also slightly less irritating moments than on previous record. Drums are really annoying. Overall rating: 8/15.
Naked sounds somewhat different from previous records. There are some Indian motives here, but I don t really think that anyone should listen this product. No impressive. Return to the TH 77, for instance instead of listening this. Overall rating: 8/15.