Saturday, December 01, 2007

Number 533 - Talking Heads

Number 533

Talking Heads

"Psycho Killer"


When Talking Heads screamed onto our planet of ears, you would have thought music had just landed "arse up". Remember, 1977 was a land of Disco & Love Ballads and not forgetting the bastard offspring "Punk". New Wave was around the corner, so WTF was Talking Heads all about then? Well as luck would have it, Talking heads was the Timelords missing link between Punk & New Wave.... sort of like a "marriage made in rock's heaven" or "Sid Vicious holds hands with Lou Reed". If you think that's confusing, try and understand this gem of a chart for Genealogy Of Music. (Ai yi yi) Now if only they can figure who Rap is related to (OK ... who yelled out Sesame Street ! ???)
At the start of their career, Talking Heads were all nervous energy, detached emotion, and subdued minimalism. When they released their last album about 12 years later, the band had recorded everything from art-funk to polyrhythmic worldbeat explorations and simple, melodic guitar pop. Between their first album in 1977 and their last in 1988, Talking Heads became one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '80s, while managing to earn several pop hits. While some of their music can seem too self-consciously experimental, clever, and intellectual for its own good, at their best Talking Heads represent everything good about art-school punks.
art by bven49
And they were literally art-school punks. Guitarist/vocalist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, and bassist Tina Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early '70s; they decided to move to New York in 1974 to concentrate on making music. The next year, the band won a spot opening for the Ramones at the seminal New York punk club CBGB. In 1976, keyboardist Jerry Harrison, a former member of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, was added to the lineup. By 1977, the band had signed to Sire Records and released its first album, Talking Heads: 77. It received a considerable amount of acclaim for its stripped-down rock & roll, particularly Byrne's geeky, overly intellectual lyrics and uncomfortable, jerky vocals.
Sooooo young
For their next album, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food, the band worked with producer Brian Eno, recording a set of carefully constructed, arty pop songs, distinguished by extensive experimenting with combined acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as touches of surprisingly credible funk. On their next album, the Eno-produced Fear of Music, Talking Heads began to rely heavily on their rhythm section, adding flourishes of African-styled polyrhythms. This approach came to a full fruition with 1980's Remain in Light, which was again produced by Eno. Talking Heads added several sidemen, including a horn section, leaving them free to explore their dense amalgam of African percussion, funk bass and keyboards, pop songs, and electronics.
After a long tour, the band concentrated on solo projects for a couple of years. By the time of 1983's Speaking in Tongues, the band had severed its ties with Eno; the result was an album that still relied on the rhythmic innovations of Remain in Light, except within a more rigid pop-song structure. After its release, Talking Heads embarked on another extensive tour, which would turn out to be their last; it's captured on the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film Stop Making Sense. After releasing the straightforward pop album Little Creatures in 1985, Byrne directed his first movie, True Stories, the following year; the band's next album featured songs from the film. Two years later, Talking Heads released Naked, which marked a return to their worldbeat explorations, although it sometimes suffered from Byrne's lyrical pretensions.
art by ST4TIK
After its release, Talking Heads were put on "hiatus"; Byrne pursued some solo projects, as did Harrison, and Frantz and Weymouth continued with their side project, Tom Tom Club. In 1991, the band issued an announcement that they had broken up. Five years later, the original lineup minus Byrne reunited as the Heads for the album No Talking Just Head. Then in 1999, all four worked together to promote a 15th-anniversary edition of Stop Making Sense. ~ [Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide]

For Modern Lovers see Number 994
For Lou Reed see Number 918 & Number 953

What does Rolling Stone think about Talking Heads?
Talking Heads are the last of CBGB's original Big Four to record (following Patti Smith, the Ramones and Television), and their debut is an absolute triumph. Dressing like a quartet of Young Republicans, playing courteously toned-down music and singing lyrics lauding civil servants, parents and college, Talking Heads are not even remotely punks. Rather, they are the great Ivy League hope of pop music. I can't recall when I last heard such a vital, imaginatively tuneful album. David Byrne's music is refreshing, abundantly varied and fun to listen to. He takes the buoyant, post-Beatles singles format of the Sixties—brisk pacing, great hooks, crisp playing, bright production—and impulsively veers off on unexpected tangents that are challenging without becoming inaccessible.

Vocally, Byrne's live-wired personality vibrates his precise musical framework like a caged tiger rattling its bars. (That he sings in a stiff, reedy, "bad" voice, grasping for higher notes like a drowning man lunging for air, only heightens the drama.) Exploring the logic and disorientation of love, decision making, ambition and the need for selfishness, he gropes for articulation like a metaphysician having difficulty computing emotions. Given his relatively unlyrical nature, Byrne's burgeoning persona is not in the least tentative. "No Compassion" asserts all the impatience of Lou Reed in a bad mood, while "Psycho Killer" pulses with vehemence.
For me, the direct, crisp, jaunty Talking Heads and the abstracted, unrestrained, fiery Television stand as the Beatles and Rolling Stones of the restless, displaced Seventies. Not only is this a great album, it's also one of the definitive records of the decade. ~[Source:Rolling Stone 251)
Pyscho Killer?
Tina Weymouth(legend)
"Psycho Killer" is the name of a new wave song from the 1977 Talking Heads album Talking Heads: 77. It was written by David Byrne with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. The lyrics are supposed to represent the thoughts of a serial killer. According to the preliminary lyric sheets copied onto the 2006 remaster of Talking Heads: 77, the song started off as a semi-narrative of the killer actually committing murders. Byrne has said of the song: "When I started writing this (I got help later), I imagined Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad. Both the Joker and Hannibal Lecter were much more fascinating than the good guys. Everybody sort of roots for the bad guys in movies."

For Randy Newman see Number 958
For the Beatles see Number 947, 894 & 587
For Rolling Stones see Number 767 & Number 689
Artist Fact File
Name:Talking Heads................Related to³:Modern Lovers
Yrs Active:1971 to
Best Song¹:Once in a
Best Album²:Talking Heads 77......Grammy Awards:0
Albums Sold:Unknown...............Next best thing:Violent Femmes
¹Number of downloads WINMX ²Artistdirect choice ³Associated acts or collaborations
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Not quite Velvet are they..) and the Album ranked at Number 290 (Oh yeah, but the albums ok .. kaff)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 74.2 out of 108 pts

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