8 October 2013

8th October - Talking Heads' Remain in Light

Artist – Album: Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Released: 8th October 1980
Sounds Like: Well, how did I get here?

Talking Heads were once known as a punk band. Admittedly, they were associated with the much more melodic and aptitude-based New York punk scene, rather than the gob in your face, can’t-play-their-own-instruments UK punk scene, but it’s startling nonetheless. In three short years since 1977 (a.k.a the dawn of punk) Talking Heads had morphed into a wildly inventive art rock collective, and their creativity reached an apex with 1980’s Remain in Light. The three chord simplicity of the Ramones’ debut it is not.

The Heads had found themselves obsessed with Afrobeat – particularly the stylings of the king of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti – and endeavoured to replicate the sound of their polyrhythms, fed through a Brian Eno produced filter. Guitars that don’t always sound like guitars are layered over the top of each other, and frequently season the album with random quirks. Husband and wife rhythm section Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth are typically prominent, supplementing their elastic playing with the frenetic beats synonymous with both Africa and their new home in the Caribbean. On top of it all, David Byrne spins wildly, churning out disparate disconnected images and struggling in vain to keep it all together.

It’s hard to pick individual moments from the dense, almost uniform body of the album, with one exception: the stunning ‘Once in a Lifetime’, with Byrne stealing the show as a preacher/marionette. The song, and album that went with it, is a fascinatingly singular effort from a band breaking far beyond the confines of the restrictive punk scene and with all members right at the top of their game. Once in a lifetime stuff indeed.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) – 5:49
2.       Crosseyed and Painless – 4:48
3.       The Great Curve – 6:28
4.       Once in a Lifetime – 4:23
5.       Houses in Motion – 4:33
6.       Seen and Not Seen – 3:25
7.       Listening Wind – 4:43
8.       The Overload – 6:02

Listen to ‘Once in a Lifetime’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98AJUj-qxHI

Also released on 8th October:
1980: Prince – Dirty Mind
Also released on 8th October:
1971: John Lennon - Imagine

Also released on 8th October:
2001: Royksopp – Melody A.M.

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