Posts Tagged ‘Talking Heads’

Nonesuch Records releases the cast album for the critically acclaimed Broadway production of David Byrne’s American Utopia, with music and lyrics by David Byrne; it is available now.  The two-CD set will be released on November 22nd,  a vinyl edition will be available this winter.

“Dazzling, rapturous and jubilant,” exclaims the New York Times of the show. “Byrne puts the central tenet of making contact with a world outside your mind into dynamic, sensory practice onstage.”

“Astonishing,” raves Hollywood Reporter. “A knockout celebration of music, dance and song. Pure bliss.”

“A heady swirl of hope for our anxious times,” says Rolling Stone. “The concert-theater-dance spectacle finds solace in human connections … a tonic for our tumultuous times…”

American Utopia began as an album, also released by Nonesuch, which received a Grammy nomination and was the first by Byrne to reach #1 on the Album Chart; it was also his first to reach the Top Five on the Billboard 200 chart. The concert tour in support of American Utopia, which inspired the Broadway show, included songs from the new album along with music from Talking Heads and Byrne’s solo career. Byrne and the ensemble performed more than 150 dates in twenty-seven countries over nine months. The British publication NME said it “may just be the best live show of all time.”

Byrne performs a song from David Byrne’s American Utopia on Jimmy Kimmel Live! during a special broadcast from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) October 22nd. Additionally, Byrne and the Broadway ensemble will be musical guests on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on November 19th.

David Byrne’s American Utopia features David Byrne with Jacquelene Acevedo, Gustavo Di Dalva, Daniel Freedman, Chris Giarmo, Tim Keiper, Tendayi Kuumba, Karl Mansfield, Mauro Refosco, Stéphane San Juan, Angie Swan, and Bobby Wooten III; Davi Viera also performs on the album. The show’s design team includes Rob Sinclair (lighting) and Pete Keppler (sound). Karl Mansfield and Mauro Refosco are Musical Directors. Choreography and Musical Staging is by Annie-B Parson. Alex Timbers serves as Production Consultant.

David Byrne’s American Utopia is the once-in-a-lifetime Broadway event that delivers “an experience unlike anything else” and marks a major cultural milestone in the worlds of music and theater. David Byrne shares the spotlight with a diverse ensemble of eleven musical artists from around the globe to deliver “a marvel of staging and motion” that’s a “thought-provoking example of the power of live music” .

David Byrne’s recent works include the launch of Reasons to be Cheerful, an online magazine focused on solutions-oriented stories about problems being solved all over the world (2019);

Byrne curated Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival in London in 2015. A co-founder of the group Talking Heads (1976–88), he has released eight studio albums as a solo artist and worked on multiple other projects, including collaborations with Brian Eno, Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Jonathan Demme, among others. He also founded the highly respected record label Luaka Bop. Recognition of Byrne’s various works include Obies, Drama Desk, Lortel, and Evening Standard awards for Here Lies Love; an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe for the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor; and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Talking Heads. Byrne’s work as a visual artist has been published and exhibited since his college days, including photography, filmmaking, and writing. He lives in New York City.

This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” is a song by the band Talking Heads, released in November 1983 as the second single from their fifth album Speaking in Tongues. The lyrics were written by David Byrne, and the music was written by Byrne and the other members of the band, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison.

Here are three different covers of a beloved song “different” because part of the fun is showcasing how artists that, in theory, are very different nonetheless share the same influences. three pretty slick covers of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” . It’s a song that David Byrne has described as a long song:

“That’s a love song made up almost completely of non sequiturs, phrases that may have a strong emotional resonance but don’t have any narrative qualities. It’s a real honest kind of love song. I don’t think I’ve ever done a real love song before. Mine always had a sort of reservation, or a twist. I tried to write one that wasn’t corny, that didn’t sound stupid or lame the way many do. I think I succeeded; I was pretty happy with that.”

it was a full-blown love song. [..] With “This Must Be the Place”, the band simplified their sound dramatically, condensing their sonic palette to the level of small EKG blips (having switched instruments for a lark, this was nearly all they were able to reliably deliver chops-wise) and wringing out only a few chords.”

Throughout the Stop Making Sense version, Byrne and his bandmates perform by a standard lamp, while close-up images of various body parts are projected onto a screen behind them. As revealed on the commentary to the film, the body parts belong to Byrne and his girlfriend (later wife) Adelle Lutz who was also known as Bonnie. When the song reaches a bridge, the musicians step back and Byrne dances with the lamp, a reference to Fred Astaire’s similar dance with a coat-rack in the film Royal Wedding. During the song, Weymouth is seen playing a rare Fender Swinger electric guitar, instead of her usual bass.

We have different studio recorded versions of the tune including a somewhat orchestral take on the tune by Kishi Bashi; a shuffling, playful version by Sure Sure; and A stirring cover of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)”  a sweeping, pensive version by The Lumineers.

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And, if you’re looking for even more Naive Melody you can check out a few live versions of the tune by Car Seat Headrest & Naked Giants , Arcade Fire, Iron & Wine, and MGMT. Honestly, so many people have tackled this tune that this collection just scratches the surface. Enjoy!

The song was covered live by the Montreal-based band Arcade Fire, and is featured as the B-side to their single “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”. Their version features David Byrne on guest vocals.

Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses performed the song on their covers album Sing into My Mouth. The album’s title is from a lyric in the song.

And finally a nice cover from the excellent Scottish band Admiral Fallow

Released 35 years ago this month, Talking Heads’ SPEAKING IN TONGUES was the group’s commercial breakthrough following a trio of acclaimed albums with producer Brian Eno. The collection includes the quartet’s first Top Ten hit, “Burning Down The House,” the follow-up single “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” is  noteworthy. Atypically for the band, “it’s a real honest kind of love song,” said lyricist David Byrne. “I don’t think I’ve ever done a real love song before.” The melody is purposefully simple, with group members switching from their usual instruments to play it, and that simplicity may explain its popularity in soundtracks and cover versions. Cited by Pitchfork as one of the 50 best songs of the 1980s,

SONG OF THE DAY - This Must Be The Place

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To mark the release of David Byrne’s eagerly awaited American Utopia album, here are the former Talking Heads front man’s variegated and all-too-sporadic canon of solo and collaborative albums.

America Utopia is David Byrne’s first solo album in 14 years, and only his ninth studio LP since the break-up of Talking Heads in the late 1980s. Of those nine, four have been co-headlined with other artists: Brian Eno, Fatboy Slim and St Vincent. The emphasis has been on quality rather than quantity.

But Byrne has not been sitting on his hands. Along with lecture tours, writing books and operating his own Luaka Bop and Todo Mundo labels, he has composed extensively for cinema and the stage. Byrne has, in fact, notched up more soundtracks than he has own-name projects, from big budget Hollywood productions such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor through to scores for experimentalist ballet choreographers Twyla Tharp and Wim Vandekeybus. Some of his best soundtracks have, happily, been released on vinyl.

Born in Scotland in 1952, but resident in the US from 1960, David Byrne has been based in New York since 1974, where he co-formed Talking Heads a few years later. He has been at the cutting edge of the avant-music scene for four decades, an achievement equalled by only a handful of musicians, one of whom is Brian Eno.

Brian Eno/David Byrne – My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
(Sire LP, 1981)

Byrne first worked with Brian Eno in 1978, on Talking Heads’s More Songs About Buildings And Food, which Eno produced. The collaboration continued on My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Byrne’s first album outside Talking Heads. The music is an art-rock extension of Eno’s groundbreaking 1980 collaboration with the beyond-jazz trumpeter Jon Hassell, Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics, which wove together electronica, tape manipulation and found sounds with jazz, African, Asian and Middle Eastern roots musics. Ghosts is a high-water mark in both Byrne and Eno’s catalogues, with ‘The Jezebl Spirit’ becoming an unlikely Paradise Garage classic. Remarkably, the duo did not co-headline again until 2009’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

David Byrne  –  The Catherine Wheel
(Sire LP, 1981)

For a couple of years in the early 1980s, Byrne and the choreographer Twyla Tharp were an item. The Catherine Wheel, a patchwork of spacey electronica and earth-bound motor rhythms, is his score for Tharp’s Broadway-meets-ballet project of the same name, or to be precise, highlights from the score, which in theatrical performance runs for around 80 minutes. Like so much of Byrne’s stage and screen work, the music stands up well even when separated from the visuals. Alongside Byrne on vocals and guitars, contributing musicians include Brian Eno and Bernie Worrell on keyboards and synthesisers, drummer Yogi Horton and Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison.

David Byrne  –  Music For The Knee Plays
(ECM LP, 1985)

Another of Byrne’s notable theatrical partnerships during the 1980s was with the iconoclastic playwright and director Robert Wilson. Music For The Knee Plays is Byrne’s part of the score for Wilson’s epic opera The Civil Wars, which also included sections by Philip Glass and Gavin Bryars. Byrne’s 19-piece collective line-up of musicians is made up almost entirely of jazz and funk horn players and his arrangements, which reference revivalist New Orleans’s outfits such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, effectively evoke the American Civil War-era which contextualises Wilson’s production.

David Byrne – Music For The Knee Plays Rei Momo
(Luaka Bop LP, 1989)

Byrne’s first solo outing after the break-up of Talking Heads is a heady cocktail of mambo, rumba, samba, cumbia, son and cha-cha-cha. The line-up is dominated by Cuban and Nuyorican musicians, including star stylists Celia Cruz, Willie Colón and Johnny Pacheco, augmented by Byrne and fellow vocalist Kirsty MacColl, whose husband, Steve Lillywhite, produced the album. Respectful of the traditions it celebrates without being in thrall to them, Rei Momo is a delight.

David Byrne  –  Uh-Oh
(Sire LP, 1992)

An engaging but often overlooked entry in Byrne’s canon, Uh-Oh is his post-Talking Heads flashback – poppy tunes, intricate but dance-friendly rhythms and splashes of Africana and Latin Americana. In 1992, after such daring experiments as My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, The Catherine Wheel and Music For The Knee Plays, the album was widely perceived as unadventurous and anachronistic. With hindsight and the passage of years, its straight-talking charm is more apparent.

David Byrne –  Lead Us Not Into Temptation (Music From The Film Young Adam)
(Thrill Jockey LP, 2003)

Bleak but important, this is Byrne’s noir-soaked soundtrack for the film version of Young Adam, a 1954 novel about a murder on a Scottish river barge written by the minor Scottish Beat poet and major heroin user (and recruiting sergeant) Alexander Trocchi. Byrne’s arrangements for the string section, drawn from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, add appropriately bleak textures, which are periodically lightened by Scottish folk musicians, hurdy-gurdy player Alasdair Roberts and accordionist John Somerville. Possibly Byrne’s best-realised film score to date.

David Byrne/Brian Eno  –  Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
(Todo Mundo LP, 2009)

Three decades after the historic collaboration that was My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Byrne and Eno reunite for another high-scoring shot from left-field. What kept them? Most of the composing and recording was done by email exchange between Byrne in New York and Eno in London, and the production sets in-the-tradition gospel vocals, written and sung by Byrne, against emotionally neutral, electronic backing tracks, mostly arranged and played by Eno. If that sounds a bit semi-detached, it all, as Byrne would probably not say, starts making sense as soon as you spin the record. Eno next crops up as co-producer of ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ on the upcoming American Utopia.

David Byrne & St Vincent  –  Love This Giant
(4AD LP, 2012)

And three decades after the brass-centric film score for Music For The Knee Plays, Byrne dips into that well again too, this time at the suggestion of singer-songwriter St. Vincent. Lyrically, the material is concerned with the idea of human transformation, as reflected in the prosthetically-enhanced cover photo. Love This Giant is an accomplished album, but one that is not quite greater than the sum of its parts. Byrne and Vincent’s respective takes on life and music, though delightfully quirky, are a little too similar to encourage each artist out of their comfort zones.

David Byrne  –  Live From Austin TX
(New West 2xLP, 2017)

Considering the many thousands of tour miles he has notched up over the years, there are relatively few live albums in Byrne’s catalogue – notable among them are Talking Heads’s Stop Making Sense from 1984 and a 2004 collaboration with Caetano Veloso, Live At Carnegie Hall (released in 2012 but not yet on vinyl). Live From Austin TX, recorded in 2001, goes some way towards plugging the gap, including as it does material from Talking Heads and Byrne’s solo catalogues. Made with an electric quartet augmented on most tracks by an acoustic string ensemble, it was well recorded by a local TV station.

American utopia

David Byrne’s new solo record, American Utopia, is released on Todomundo / Nonesuch Records. The album includes the track Everybody’s Coming To My House, co-written with Brian Eno, featuring contributions from TTY, Happa Isaiah Barr (Onyx Collective), Mercury Prize winner Sampha, and others. American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with Byrne’s vision for his series Reasons To Be Cheerful – an ongoing series curated by Byrne of hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures – named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation – something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us.

While David Byrne has collaborated on joint releases with Eno, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), and most recently St. Vincent over the past decade, American Utopia is Byrne’s first solo album since, 2004’s Grown Backwards, also on Nonesuch. American Utopia morphed during the writing and recording process, beginning with longtime collaborator Eno, and eventually growing to include collaboration with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages) alongside a diverse cast of creative contributors including Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent producer, aka Doveman), Jack Peñate, and others. The album was recorded in New York City at David’s home studio, Reservoir Studios, Oscilloscope, XL Studios, and Crowdspacer Studio and in London at Livingston Studio 1

Advertisement for Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ single, 1977. Saw TH in Swindon, 1977, supporting Dire Straits

Classic performance at the Boarding House, San Francisco from 16th September 1978. Includes the entire KSAN-FM broadcast. Digitally remastered for enhanced sound quality. Byrne’s unholy pact with loathing is primed, funked and punked for the stoically impassioned, but in contrast to the detached state of suburbia up front, the band party hard with a deep sense of funk and engaged complexity. The set draws from their debut album Talking Heads ’77‘ and the follow-up ‘More Songs About Buildings And Food’ taking it all to the flaming crescendo of ‘No Compassion’.

Towards the end of Talking Heads’ career, all four members of the band gathered in the studio with Lou Reed to record the Velvets’ “Femme Fatale.” The result came out on a Tom Tom Club LP (Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom), but the credits sure read like Talking Heads + Lou: Tina Weymouth on bass and keyboard, Chris Frantz on drums, Jerry Harrison on keys, David Byrne on slide and rhythm guitar, and Lou Reed on lead and rhythm guitar. Weymouth sings Nico’s part and everyone else joins in on backup vocals.

Rolling Stone reported news of the NYC supersession in 1987. It provided the happy ending to “Are Four (Talking) Heads Better Than One?,” a profile that suggested the foursome was held together with Scotch tape and chewing gum, and contained some bons mots from Lou:

Back in earlier, calmer days, the band looked to Lou Reed as a sort of patron saint. He doled out advice like “Get some dynamics in your songs” or “David should wear a long-sleeved shirt – his arms are too hairy.” And more profound warnings, which the band still remembers today. Chris: “Lou Reed once told us, ‘Man, I’ve gotta go out on tour again. People want to view the body.’” Tina: “He told us, ‘A band is like a fist of many fingers. Whereas record companies like to ego-massage one finger and break it off.’”

The Byrne/Frantz/Harrison/Reed/Weymouth “Femme Fatale”:

This is the key album in Talking Heads‘ evolution. Their first two albums were leading directly to ‘Fear of Music,’ which, with assistance from producer Brian Eno, manages to sound like the future. David Byrne paints a bleak picture lyrically, but musically the band has never been more inviting. “I Zimbra” and “Life During Wartime” were just the start. ‘Fear of Music”s success allowed them to take their musical exploration even further out the next time around, when they made their masterpiece.

One of the highlights “Life During Wartime” by The Talking Heads is as a sci-fi premise, scenes from a dystopian future that we will never have to encounter. Yet the urgency and immediacy of the band’s performance suggests that we are never very far from having to navigate our way with caution through streets that were once familiar; to reconsider the motivations of even our most familiar acquaintances; to literally run for our lives.

The band’s 1979 album Fear Of Music, the song is credited to all four group members (David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz.) That’s because the relentlessly grooving music came out of a jam session. To match the propulsive instrumental backing, Byrne came up with lyrics inspired by his then-home in the Alphabet City section of Manhattan. His view of urban life was that it did require savvy and survival instincts beyond the norm, even if it hadn’t yet degenerated into complete chaos.

Byrne’s vision of the future, as expressed to NME at the time of the record’s release, was striking in its accuracy: “There will be chronic food shortages and gas shortages and people will live in hovels. Paradoxically, they’ll be surrounded by computers the size of wrist watches. Calculators will be cheap. It’ll be as easy to hookup your computer with a central television bank as it is to get the week’s groceries.”

“Life During Wartime” plays like you’ve been dropped into the middle of a thriller where your next move might be your last; it’s thrilling and harrowing all at once. Byrne doesn’t waste any time setting up the stakes, as evidenced by the opening lines: “Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons/ Packed up and ready to go.” Within just the first verse, we find the narrator listening to gunfire and contemplating where to bury the bodies.

The lyrics do an excellent job of expressing how disorienting such a life might be, as the protagonist’s identity and even his physical looks are malleable. The comforts of life are replaced by the necessities: “I got some groceries, some peanut butter/ To last a couple of days/ But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no headphones/ Ain’t got no records to play.” The immortal lines “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco/ This ain’t no fooling around” were taken by some as a slam at disposable music, when in actuality it was a reference to how such a future would remove any chance for frivolity in daily existence.

As the song progresses, the protagonist gets more and more frantic, his paranoia and his reality practically inseparable. Yet we learn that he has a cohort in his adventures, and a brief break in the battle materializes: “You make me shiver, I feel so tender/ We make a pretty good team.” It’s short-lived, however, as the chase resumes and the music fades out before Byrne can even finish his tale, suggesting that there will be no more respites from this point forth.

“Life During Wartime” didn’t make much of a dent on the pop charts, but it did further cement the band’s status as one that could fuse innovation with accessibility; here was Armageddon disguised as a dance party. You can call the song ahead of its time, but it might be more accurate to say that the future described always seems to be a moment away from transpiring.

Talking Heads at the Electric Ballroom – London England – December 07th, 1979
This is one of the final concerts from the Fear of Music Tour, and among the last shows as the four-piece band. This is the first of two nights,

Fear of music…. What a fantastic collection of songs. Also a swan song for the worlds number one college band. Their sound at the time so raw musically and Byrnes lyrics so bereft of traditional constraint. At times, More like internal conversations to deal with unresolved issues….. Mind, Cities, Paper And the stand out track. Electric Guitar.

Setlist:  01 tuning 02 Artists Only 03 Stay Hungry 04 Cities 05 Paper 06 Mind 07 Heaven (false start) 08 Heaven 09 Electric Guitar 10 Air 11 Animals 12 Love > Building on Fire 13 Found a Job (beginning cut) 14 Memories Can’t Wait 15 Psycho Killer 16 tuning17 Encore: Life During Wartime

remain in light

“Remain in Light” is the fourth studio album by the Talking Heads, In January 1980, the members of Talking Heads returned to New York City after the tours in support of their 1979 critically acclaimed third album, Fear of Music, and decided to take time off to pursue personal interests. Byrne worked with Eno, the record’s producer, on an experimental collaboration named My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Jerry Harrison produced an album for soul singer Nona Hendryx at the Sigma Sound Studios branch in New York City; the singer and the location were later used during the recording of Remain in Light on Harrison’s advice. Husband and wife Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth discussed the possibility of leaving the band after the latter suggested that Byrne’s level of control was excessive. Frantz did not want the ending Talking Heads, and the two decided to take a long vacation in the Caribbean to ponder the state of the band. During the trip, the couple became involved in Haitian Vodou religious ceremonies and practiced with several types of native percussion instruments. In Jamaica, they socialized with the famous reggae rhythm section of Sly and Robbie.

Instead of the band writing music to Byrne’s lyrics, Talking Heads performed instrumental jam sessions without words using the Fear of Music song “I Zimbra” as a starting point.

Talking Heads’ contribution to the avant-punk scene they helped create was their emphasis on rhythm over beat. The Heads’ early songs pulsed, winding their way past jitteriness to achieve the compelling tension that defined a particular moment in rock & roll history such a moment when white rock fans wanted to dance so badly, and yet were so intimidated by the idea, that they started hopping straight up and down for instant relief. By 1978, punk and disco had divided the pop audience. What did Talking Heads do? They recorded Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.”

Despite David Byrne’s vocal restraint and certain puritanical tendencies in his lyrics to value work over pleasure (“Artists Only,” “Don’t Worry about the Government”), Talking Heads never stopped learning from the sensuous music that existed in a world parallel to theirs. On 1979’s Fear of Music, they made a defiant connection with funk and disco in “I Zimbra” and “Life during Wartime,” both of which aid in preparing us for Remain in Light’s startling avant-primitivism.
On Remain in Light, rhythm takes over. Each of the eight compositions adheres to a single guitar-drum riff repeated endlessly, creating what funk musicians commonly refer to as a groove. A series of thin, shifting layers is then added: more jiggly percussion, glancing and contrasting guitar figures, singing by Byrne that represents a sharp and exhilarating break with the neurotic and intentionally wooden vocals that had previously characterized all Talking Heads albums.

Though the tunes take their time (side one has just three cuts), nobody steps out to solo here. There isn’t any elaboration of the initial unifying riff either. Because of this, these songs resemble the African music that the band has taken great pains to acknowledge as Remain in Light’s guiding structure.

In addition to its African influences, Remain in Light also flashes the ecstatic freedom of current American funk, across which any number of complex emotions and topics can roam. In both “Born under Punches (the Heat Goes On)” and “Crosseyed and Painless,” the rhythm lurches about while always moving forward, thrust ahead by the tough, serene beat of the bass and percussion. Throughout, instruments are so tightly meshed that it’s often difficult to pick out what you’re hearing—or even who’s playing. As part of their let’s-rethink-this-music attitude, Talking Heads occasionally play one another’s instruments, and guests as disparate as Robert Palmer and Nona Hendryx are enlisted.  Far from being confusing, however, such density contributes greatly to the mesmerizing power exerted by these elaborate dance tunes.

Though you can follow, to some extent, the story lines of, say, “Listening Wind” (in which an Indian stores up weaponry to launch an assault on plundering Americans) and the spoken fable, “Seen and Not Seen,” Remain in Light’s lyrics are more frequently utilized to describe or embody abstract concepts. Thus, beneath the wild dance patterns of “Crosseyed and Painless,” there lurks a dementedly sober disquisition on the nature of facts that culminates in a hilarious, rapidly recited list of characteristics (“Facts are simple and facts are straight/Facts are lazy and facts are late… “) that could go on forever —and probably does, since the song fades out before the singer can finish reading what’s on the lyric sheet. Elsewhere, strings of words convey meaning only through Byrne’s intonation and emphasis: his throaty, conspiratorial murmur in “Houses in Motion” adds implications you can’t extract from lines as flyaway as “I’m walking a line— I’m thinking about empty motion.”

In all of this lies a solution to a problem that was clearly bothering David Byrne on Fear of Music: how to write rock lyrics that don’t yield to easy analysis and yet aren’t pretentious. Talking Heads’ most radical attempt at an answer was the use of da-daist Hugo Ball’s nonsense words as a mock-African chant in “I Zimbra.” The strategy on Remain in Light is much more complicated and risky. In compositions like “Born under Punches” and “Crosseyed and Painless,” phrases are suggested and measured, repeated and turned inside out, in reaction to the spins and spirals of their organizing riff-melodies.

Once in a while, the experiments backfire on the experimenters. Both “The Great Curve” and “The Overload” are droning drags, full of screeching guitar noise that’s more freaked-out than felt. Usually, however, the gambler’s aesthetic operating within Remain in Light yields scary, funny music to which you can dance and think, think and dance, dance and think .

The album featured the new Talking Heads – a multi-personnel band with added percussionists, backing vocalists and guitarist Adrian Belew, who put the wah-wah pedal to its most tasteful use since Jimi Hendrix. The difference was noticeable immediately. Talking Heads songs had always been monologues in the past, but now there were two or three different vocal sections contrasting perspectives on the same issues.

The music was funkier, with more embellishments than before, and ‘Remain in Light’ represented a completely new approach, rather than an alteration of the old one. The album’s most striking track was ‘Once In A Lifetime’ which – with the help of a dramatically simple and effective video – became the band’s first British top 20 single. Talking Heads toured around the world with their extended line-up.

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“Who needs to think when your feet just go?” So sings Tina Weymouth on Tom Tom Clubs  debut album. And rightly so — this was the sunny break in the islands that the rhythm section of Talking Heads wanted, and they got it, away from the art-school intellectualism that had resulted in the classic but understandably very unsunny “Remain In light”. This album, a collection of funky, sprightly little tunes recorded in Barbados with Weymouths sisters, hubbie and drummer Chris Frantz , and several of the members of the Heads band tour group: Adrian Belew, guitar, and Steven Stanley ,

If you didn’t pick a copy of this one up when it was first released this year, you may be out of luck—only 800 copies of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s debut album were pressed to translucent green vinyl for this reissue. Recorded in Barbados after Talking Heads “Remain in Light” sessions, Tom Tom Club is a hugely influential, spawning singles like “Genius of Love” and “Wordy Rappinghood” and taking some cues from the growing hip-hop movement of the era. It’s hard to believe this is the first time it’s been reissued since its 1981 release.

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There was a grungy dive of a place on the Bowery called CBGB that was home to bikers, neighborhood drunks and the seeds of a musical revolution that changed the future of music.

Chris Frantz, the drummer of the seminal new-wave band Talking Heads, had a front-row seat along with his now-wife, bassist Tina Weymouth, along with guitarist/lead singer David Byrne, and the original Ramones: Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, all four of whom died way too early. Chris Frantz, who still plays and records with Weymouth in their band, Tom Tom Club, shared stories of those crazed early days , when a dozen or fewer fans would show up at Hilly Kristal’s famed club for a gig.

Chris comments “We lived at 195 Chrystie St., 3¹/₂ blocks from CBGB. It was rough, man, No hot water, no shower, the bathroom in the hall we had to share with all these sweaty guys,” said Frantz, who with his band mates was fresh out of the Rhode Island School of Design.

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“That first summer there in, ’75, there was a heat wave and also a garbage strike at the same time. So you could imagine what it was like,” he said. “The kids would open the hydrants and you had streams of water going down the street with burning garbage floating on it. “The kids would set the garbage on fire. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Tina took it better than I did.”

But the band practiced every day in its ninth-floor loft with the great view of the Empire State Building way uptown, and before long debuted at CBGB, opening up for the protopunks from Forest Hills themselves.

Hilly had asked Johnny Ramone if we could open for them, and Johnny said, ‘Sure, they’re gonna suck, so no problem,’ ” Frantz recalled.  the Heads all loved the Ramones and even got to like the dictatorial Johnny Ramone, but it took a while.

“That guy was mean as a snake. He was just a pure, unadulterated mean spirit. I’m sure he had good qualities also, but they were not evident,” he said. “He came around toward the end, but for the longest time, he thought that we sucked. But they were crazy. They’d be on stage playing and then they’d just stop and start fighting.”

Their debut together was hardly a roaring success. “There were very few people in the audience, maybe 10 altogether. Five came to see us and five came to see the Ramones. The Ramones’ fans were all girls, presumably their girlfriends,” Frantz remembered.

When they weren’t performing oddball pop like “(Love Goes to) Building on Fire” and “Psycho Killer” onstage, they would drink at the bar and get to know the other bands and hangers-on. One was Legs McNeill, one of the founders of Punk magazine, which chronicled the scene when only the Village Voice and SoHo News were paying any attention.

“Legs somehow positioned himself as an expert on CBGB’s heyday, but most of the time, he was passed out. One time at about 4 a.m., Hilly said, ‘Can you just get that guy out of there?’ ” Frantz said.

Tina had a car, an old Plymouth Valiant that was a family hand-down. We could fit the whole band in there. We tried to take him home but he was so intoxicated, he couldn’t remember what his address was. We’d drive around and ask him, ‘Does that look like your place, Legs?’ Finally, we found it.”

Some of the musicians, like the poet-turned-singer Patti Smith, Debbie Harry’s Blondie, Television with Tom Verlaine, and Willy DeVille’s Mink DeVille, went on to score record deals, tour and become punk and new-wave legends.
Much of the best music from those early days was released on a double album called “Live at CBGB’s.”

Talking Heads signed up for the album but eventually bailed — although their photo remained on the record jacket. “We didn’t think we were good enough yet — that’s why we pulled out. We thought it would ruin our chances to get a real record deal. Hilly was not happy about it, but at least he understood,” Frantz said.

Meanwhile The Ramones released their eponymous first album in the April of 1976 — and things took off from there, with the iconic “Hey, ho, let’s go!” opening lines of the 2-minute and 12-second anthem “Blitzkrieg Bop,” detonating like a gun at the start of a race.

The Ramones’ appearances in London as the opening act for the Flamin’ Groovies came on July 4th, 1976 — and caused a sensation unlike anything they had seen back in the States.

While most of America was celebrating the bicentennial with fireworks, concerts and picnics, the Ramones were inspiring a generation of British punks including The Clash and the Sex Pistols, whose debut single, “Anarchy in the UK,” was released a couple months later.

The next spring, Talking Heads opened up for the Ramones on the bands’ first full European Tour. They still couldn’t afford a luxury coach with sleeping berths, so they traveled on a beat-up tourist bus with Johnny in full dictator mode. “He wanted to decide where everybody sat. If you changed your seat, he’d say, ‘Whaddya sittin’ there for? You weren’t sittin’ there yesterday,’ ” Frantz said.

 

Frantz, who with Weymouth and family now splits his time between Connecticut and France, remembered the now-shuttered CBGB as the incubator for it all.

“It was just a nascent scene at the time,” he said. “We had the feeling that this was going to be an important place. We had seen Patti Smith, who was bigger than the Ramones at the time. She was wild. She had that intensity that you just don’t run into these days — onstage, but also off the stage. “She was not a relaxed person.”

Also on the scene was this band Television, whose debut “Marquee Moon” is considered one of the best guitar LPs of all time.

“With that combination of bands, you know something’s going on. It just took a while to grow,”

 

 

This superb radio broadcast recording captures Talking Heads  live at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center set in the lush environs of Saratoga Spa State Park in New York State during the summer of 1983. At this stage in their career, Talking Heads were at an artistic peak, having progressed from their initial spiky art-punk stance into something much funkier and more ethnically diverse in inspiration.

Crucially, bassist Tina Weymouth and her husband, drummer Chris Frantz, had also formed the successful dance-oriented splinter group, Tom Tom Club, in 1981.

SIDE A
1.Psycho Killer (Live)
2.Heaven (Live)
3.Cities (Live)

SIDE B
4.Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open) (Live)
5.Burning Down The House (Live)
6.Life During War Time (Live)
7.Home (This Must Be The Place?) (Live)

SIDE C
8.Once In A Lifetime (Live)
9.Big Business / I Zimbra
10.Houses In Motion

SIDE D
11.Genius Of Love (Live)
12.Girlfriend Is Better (Live)
13.Take Me To The River (Live)

Double 140 Gram Grey Vinyl Set. This superb radio broadcast recording captures Talking Heads live at the Saratoga Springs Performance Center set in the lush environs of Saratoga Spa State Park in New York State during the summer of 1983. At this stage in their career, Talking Heads were at an artistic peak, having progressed from their initial spiky art-punk stance into something much funkier and more ethnically diverse in inspiration.