Thursday, January 25, 2007

Talking Heads

Once In a Lifetime

Talking Heads was an American rock band composed of David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison.

Talking Heads married punk rock sensibilities with poppy sounds, clipped funk, art school intellectualism, and later, world music. The front man, David Byrne was distinctive for his looks and how he delivered vocals. The also had a popular concert film Stop Making Sense (which was made at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, and directed by Jonathan Demme) is widely acclaimed as one of the finest examples of the genre.

Formed in 1974 the band first consisted of three members: David Byrne (vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), and Tina Weymouth (bass). Weymouth later recalled how the group chose the name "Talking Heads": "A friend had found the name in the TV Guide, which explained the term used by TV studios to describe a head-and-shoulder shot of a person talking as 'all content, no action.' It fit."

The band moved to New Yourk and started opening for The Ramones at the legendary CBGBs club. In 1976, they added one more member, Jerry Harrison (keyboards and guitar), formerly of Jonathan Richman's band The Modern Lovers. The group quickly drew a following and was signed to Sire Records in 1977. Their first album, Talking Heads: 77 was released soon afterward. Combining a taut rhythm section with David Byrne's signature neurotic vocals, '77, despite poor sales, endeared the band to the more experimental elements in New York's burgeoning punk scene.

It was with their second album in 1978, More Songs about Buildings and Food that the band began its long-term collaboration with art rock pioneer Brian Eno, who had previously worked with Roxy Music, David Bowie and Robert Fripp. As a producer, Eno became a virtual fifth member of the band. Eno's unusual style meshed well with the group's artistic sensibilities, and they gained the confidence to explore in a wide variety of musical directions. Though the first album's "Psycho Killer" had been a minor hit, it was More Songs' cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" that broke Talking Heads into general public consciousness.

The experimentation continued with 1979's Fear of Music, which flirted with the darker stylings of post punk rock. The single "Life During Wartime" produced the memorable catchphrase, "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco." 1980's Remain in Light explored African polyrhythms, foreshadowing Byrne's later interest in world music. The band toured with an expanded group, first at the Heatwave festival in August. The album's single, "Once in a Lifetime," failed to make an impression upon its release, but grew into a popular standard over the next few years on the back of its music video, one of the first signs of the power music videos would exert during the 1980s.

After releasing four albums in barely four years, the group then spent nearly three more before releasing another. In the meantime, they released a live album, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads, and parted ways with Brian Eno, who went on to successfully produce U2.
1983 saw the release of Speaking in Tongues, a commercial breakthrough that produced the band's first American Top 10 hit, "Burning Down the House". Once again, a striking video was inescapable during the song's run. The following tour was documented in Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense, which generated another live album of the same name. The Speaking in Tongues tour would be their last.

Three more albums followed, 1985’s Little Creatures, 1986’s True Stories (Talking Heads covering all the soundtrack songs of Byrne's musical comedy film, in which the band also appeared) and 1988’s Naked. The sound of Little Creatures and True Stories were much more American pop rock, while Naked took heavy Latin influence with polyrhythmic styles like those seen on Remain in Light. During that time, however, the group was falling more and more under David Byrne's sway, and after Naked the band went on "hiatus." It took until 1991 for an official announcement to be made that Talking Heads had broken up.
The band played together one last time on March 18, 2002 at the ceremony of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Studio albums
Talking Heads: 77 (1977) [#97 US, #60 UK]
More Songs about Buildings and Food (1978) [#29 US, #22 UK]
Fear of Music (1979) [#21 US, #33 UK]
Remain in Light (1980) [#19 US, #21 UK]
Speaking in Tongues (1983) [#15 US, #21 UK]
Little Creatures (1985) [#20 US, #10 UK]
True Stories (1986) [#17 US, #7 UK]
Naked (1988) [#19 US, #3 UK]

Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites (1992)
Don't Worry About the Cover Band: Tribute Album (2000)
Once in a Lifetime (box set) (2003)
Best of Talking Heads (remastered) (2004)
Brick (box set) (2005)
Bonus Rarities & Outtakes (digital download) (2006)
Talking Heads : The Collection (2007)

Live albums and videos
The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads [live] (1982) (reissued in greatly expanded form in 2004) #31 US, #22 UK
Stop Making Sense [live] (1984) (reissued in expanded form in 1999) #41 US, #24 UK
Storytelling Giant (1988)

Feature-length films
"Stop Making Sense" – Talking Heads' critically acclaimed concert film, shot and edited by notable director Jonathan Demme in 1984
True Stories – starring David Byrne, with cameos by other Talking Heads members and a soundtrack by Talking Heads

"Love --> Building on Fire" (1977)
"Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" (1977)
"Psycho Killer" (1977) [#92 US]
"Pulled Up" (1978)
"Take Me to the River" (1978) [#26 US, #58 AUS]
"Life During Wartime" (1979) [#80 US]
"I Zimbra" (1980)
"Cities" (1980)
"Crosseyed and Painless" (1980)
"Once in a Lifetime" (1981) [#14 UK, #23 AUS]
"Houses in Motion (Remix)" (1981) [#50 UK]
"Life During Wartime (Live)" (1982)
"Burning Down the House" (1983) [#9 US, #94 AUS]
"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" (1983) [#62 US, #51 UK]
"Slippery People" (1984) [#68 UK]
"Stop Making Sense (Girlfriend Is Better) (Live)" (1985) [#99 UK, #59 AUS]
"The Lady Don't Mind" (1985) [#81 UK, #24 AUS]
"Road to Nowhere" (1985) [#6 UK, #16 AUS]
"And She Was" (1985) [#54 US, #17 UK, #10 AUS]
"Once in a Lifetime (Live)" (1986) [#91 US]
"Wild Wild Life" (1986) [#25 US, #43 UK, #13 AUS]
"Love for Sale" (1986)
"Hey Now" (1986) [#65 AUS]
"Radio Head" (1987) [#52 UK]
"Blind" (1988) [#59 UK]
"(Nothing But) Flowers" (1988) [#79 UK]
"Sax & Violins" (1991) [#1 US (Mainstream Rock)]
"Lifetime Piling Up" (1992) [#11 US (Mainstream Rock), #50 UK] – fan site – another fan site

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