Posts Tagged ‘Tina Weymouth’

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Talking Heads’ 1980 song “Once in a Lifetime” is one of the most durable songs of its era, watch the video and see how it has held up to numerous interpretations — via remixes, covers, mash-ups, samples and live takes.

Released in 1980’s “Remain in Light”, “Once in a Lifetime” shows the growing influence that producer Brian Eno, was having over the group. David Byrne used his downtime to work with Brian Eno (who’d produced the previous two Talking Heads records) Eno had introduced them to the work of Fela Kuti when he first met the band in 1977, and the Afrobeat legend’s polyrhythms first made their way into their sound on 1979’s Fear of Music.

In addition, David Byrne’s speak-singing on the verses was inspired by field recordings of American preachers that Byrne was listening to while working on “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” a collaborative album with Eno that he was working on at the same time as “Remain in Light”. Those recordings also factored into the lyrics.

“Most of the words in ‘Once in a Lifetime’ come from evangelists I recorded off the radio while taking notes and picking up phrases I thought were interesting directions,” he said (via Songfacts). “Maybe I’m fascinated with the middle class because it seems so different from my life, so distant from what I do. I can’t imagine living like that.” Meanwhile, Weymouth and Frantz took a long holiday in the Caribbean, where they pondered the group’s future and soaked up musical influences that would set them in good stead. Feeling Byrne had become too controlling, they looked to redress the balance; rather than rely on their frontman bringing material to the group, Weymouth and Franz suggested they emulate the music that was exciting them – early hip-hop, Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat grooves, West African highlife pop – and embark upon jam sessions,

Frantz and Weymouth invited Harrison to their New York loft for informal jams, recorded on Frantz’s boombox. When it became apparent they had the beginnings of some promising tracks, they reached out to Byrne and Eno, both of whom had previously told Frantz they were not interested in making another Talking Heads record. Once the reluctant pair had been separately coaxed over and joined in, things began to get interesting. “By night time we took a break to listen back. You could hear all kinds of interesting parts germinating, mutating and evolving,” Frantz recalled. “There was no denying that Talking Heads still had a great chemistry going on and the beats were good.

One of those jams, a hypnotic and relentless instrumental called Right Start, might very well have been abandoned. Instead, it was worked up to become one of the best Talking Heads songs of all, the transcendent “Once In A Lifetime”.

Byrne expanded on its portrayal of a middle-class suburban man when he spoke with NPR in 2000. “We’re largely unconscious,” he said. “You know, we operate half awake or on autopilot and end up, whatever, with a house and family and job and everything else, and we haven’t really stopped to ask ourselves, ‘How did I get here?'”

Yet for all its fame, the song wasn’t even a hit. Although the original version reach No. 20 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart, it failed to make Billboard’s Hot 100. But its video was frequently shown on MTV in the network’s early days. Five years later, however, the live take from their concert film Stop Making Sense.

 

The 1980 Original Version – Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime” which received a single release on 2nd February 1981, was an obvious high point on the album that emerged from those sessions, 1981’s “Remain In Light”, the song’s video lodged it firmly in the public consciousness. Choregraphed by Toni Basil (of Hey Mickey fame, who also co-directed the promo clip with Byrne), the video featured a suited and bespectacled Byrne dancing like a possessed marionette, his moves inspired by archive footage of “preachers, evangelists, people in trances, African tribes, Japanese religious sects”.

Music Video Set to Scenes From David Bowie’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

Once it was picked up by MTV (which launched ten months after Remain In Light’s release), it became hailed as one of the best music videos of all time – a stark visual inseparable from the song.

1980 – Talking Heads Live Version

 

Talking Heads Live Wembley 1982 Once In A Lifetime

Byrne himself has suggested the song implores the listener to take stock of their lives. “We’re largely unconscious. You know, we operate half-awake or on autopilot and end up, whatever, with a house and family and job and everything else. We haven’t really stopped to ask ourselves, ‘How did I get here?’”

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Chris Frantz is a lover, not a fighter. That’s apparent from the relationship that the drummer and co-founding member of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club shares with both of those groups’ fellow co-founder, bassist Tina Weymouth. Together as marrieds since 1977, now living in Fairfield, Connecticut with their two sons, Frantz and Weymouth have been a unit since they were art students at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early ’70s, before they both played music, before they befriended fellow RISD student/guitarist David Byrne, and before that trio moved to NYC’s Lower East Side in 1975 to join the area’s burgeoning art-punk scene.

Along with sharing those times in the twilight of punk and the ensemble’s vividly imagined growth along the lines of innovative twitchy Afro-funk and ambient pop, Frantz—in his first memoir writings, Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina—portrays the glories of that rise and the joys of friendships made. Frankly, too, Frantz writes how and why it all went wrong with Byrne, how Lou Reed and Brian Eno also sought to fleece Talking Heads in their own ways, and so much more—all while managing to be jovial and justifiably appreciative of all the good that went on with both of his bands and steering commendably clear of gossip. With that, Frantz has created something novel with Remain in Love—it’s seemingly the first-ever gracious and grateful biographical rock read.

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Chris Frantz met David Byrne at the Rhode Island School of Art & Design in the early 1970s. Together – and soon with Frantz’s future wife, Tina Weymouth – they formed Talking Heads and took up residence in the grimy environs of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where their neighbours were Patti Smith, William Burroughs and a host of proto-punk artists who now have legendary status. Building an early audience and reputation with many performances at CBGB alongside the Ramones, Television and Blondie, Talking Heads found themselves feted by Warhol and Lou Reed, and signed to Sire Records. A band whose sensibility was both a part of, and apart from, punk, their early albums quickly became classics; until the Brian Eno produced masterpiece Remain in Light, saw them explode. Soon, however, relations within the band started to become strained as David Byrne started to take control of a band that had always operated democratically. Chris and Tina started recording as Tom Tom Club in the early ’80s; in the process creating a hybrid of funk, disco, pop, electro and world music that would have a huge impact on the club scene around the world.

Warm and candid, funny and heartfelt, Remain in Love charts the rise and fall of a band who combined the sensibility of artists with extraordinary songwriting vision. It is another classic New York memoir in the mould of Patti Smith’s Just Kids and a book which shares secrets and stories Talking Heads fans have been curious about for decades.

Remain In Light (Deluxe Version)

This is not only Talking Heads’ best record, it’s on the shortlist of the most innovative albums ever made. Under the influence of Brian Eno, the group began to weave African music into the dance grooves (years before Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ did the same thing in a less transformative manner). Also, Eno and the members implemented the cutting-edge tactic of crafting loops and samples to form the core of tracks. That was unheard of when it came to rock, so it makes the music on this album a second cousin of hip-hop (another influence on the album in terms of Byrne’s delivery). Few bands have ever been so fearlessly creative as to make an extended tribal groove that is as breakneck as it is epic, then perforate it with a snarling guitar solo from Adrian Belew (“The Great Curve”). “Once in a Lifetime” is so weird, it’s hard to believe it’s become a celebrated staple of our musical past. Such is the power of a dive-bombing bass line, intriguing synthesizer sounds and Byrne’s nervy, nerdy charisma. After running themselves ragged on the earlier parts of the album, Talking Heads slow down and stretch out on the last three tracks, proving that they can be just as interesting after the dance party ends. Droning closer “The Overload” adds layer after layer of texture as it stretches into the void as the occasional squawking loop pays homage to another, great meditative final track: “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Is there a way for such dark thoughts to remain in light? Talking Heads found a way.

“And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?” The amazing “Once In A Lifetime” only hinted at the burst of creativity on the Talking Heads album “Remain In Light”. The 1980 Sire Records album finds the quartet incorporating African polyrhythms into its music, as well as making innovative use of loops and samples as instrumental tracks. Brian Eno returns as producer (guitarist Adrian Belew and funk keyboard great Bernie Worrell also contribute to the album), helping strike an appealing balance between danceable grooves (“Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” “Crosseyed And Painless”) and more experimental fare (“Houses In Motion,” “The Overload”). The Deluxe Edition of REMAIN IN LIGHT adds four previously unreleased outtakes to the landmark alternative rock album; we’ll give the collection a spin now to wish Heads frontman David Byrne a happy birthday.

Album cover containing a drawing of a mountain range and four mostly red warplanes flying in formation. There is green text on the left hand side and a barcode in the top right corner.

“And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?” The amazing “Once In A Lifetime” only hinted at the burst of creativity on Talking Heads’ Remain In Light. The 1980 Sire Records album finds the quartet incorporating African polyrhythms into its music, as well as making innovative use of loops and samples as instrumental tracks. Brian Eno returns as producer (guitarist Adrian Belew and funk keyboard great Bernie Worrell also contribute to the album), helping strike an appealing balance between danceable grooves (“Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” “Crosseyed And Painless”) and more experimental fare (“Houses In Motion,” “The Overload”). While outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork to Slant have called Remain in Light one of the best albums of the 1980s, it has a thrilling sense of discovery that remains of-the-moment.

Talking Heads

  • David Byrne – lead vocals, guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocal arrangements
  • Jerry Harrison – guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals
  • Tina Weymouth – bass guitar, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals
  • Chris Frantz – drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals

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You’ve seen Stop Making Sense a million times (and if you haven’t, You must watch that) but maybe you haven’t seen this — Talking Heads playing Rome on the “Remain in Light” tour. It’s less of a flashy production and and a little more punk, with the augmented “10-piece funk machine” line up of the group that included Bernie Worrell and Adrian Belew, and the setlist that hits some deeper cuts (or at least just pre-“Burning Down the House”). No big suits, just a killer performance with especially awesome renditions of “I Zimbra” and “Crosseyed and Painless.”

This full show footage finds the band hitting their stride with the expanded and rather talented roster (in all its art-funk worldbeat glory) you can see at the bottom. Moreover, there’s a reason Nine Inch Nails fans should be thrilled to death about new touring member Adrian Belew and these videos below paint a pretty good picture of just how special and unique the out-of-the-stratosphere King Crimson guitarist is (see “Stay Hungry”, “Crosseyed and Painless” and “The Great Curve” for reference). Throw P-Funk’s Bernie Worrell in the mix and this show stacks up musically with Stop Making Sense, albeit lacking in the Big Suit department. Consider this the visual b-side prequel to Demme’s legendary concert film.

Setlist:
01. Psycho Killer, 02. Stay Hungry, 03. Cities, 04. I Zimbra, 05. Drugs, 06. Take Me to the River, 07. Crosseyed and Painless 08. Life During Wartime, 09. Houses in Motion, 10. Born Under Punches
11. The Great Curve

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

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,”