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Laughing Stock

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Editors’ Notes

After the singular greatness of their previous album, Talk Talk came back with an album that went even deeper into the recesses of the spiritual mind. The album garnered comparisons to Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way for its placid surfaces and its deep emotional concerns. Singer Mark Hollis is working through his own personal soul music here. With the help of producer-multi-instrumentalist Tim Friese-Greene and a large variety of external musicians, including a classical ensemble, Talk Talk break through all the barriers of pop music and occasionally into the trance-like work of Steve Roach and David Sylvian. “Myrrhman” sets a dark tone. For a relatively brief five-and-a half-minutes, the dynamic never raises above a murmur. “Ascension Day” is nearly celebratory in comparison, with Hollis pulling out his Stevie Winwood-inspired blue-eyed soul among the ambient and avant-garde textures. “After the Flood” takes things to a brutal extreme with the organ doing serious battle. It’s an absolutely essential album and it would be Talk Talk’s final. All that followed was Mark Hollis’ excellent 1998 solo album and then his retirement.

Customer Reviews

Quintessential...perhaps there is no perfect word

Unlike Talk Talk's more pop sound of the 80's, this music is atmospheric and meditative, mellow for sure. Talk Talk remains ground breaking, unique and timeless.  There is truly nothing like Mark Hollis' unmistakable, sonorous, echoey voice.   Despite the quiet quality ('Ascension Day' excepted) of these beautiful songs, the impact is substantial.  'After the Flood' is the epitome of a great, groovy vibe, 'Runeii' is totally languid, the soundtrack of a dream, 'Taphead' and 'Myrrhman' have a jazz influence. The entire album is brilliant and the much talked about masterpiece is 'New Grass'...there's no way to describe this song, you just have to hear it.   In Google type in "Within Without" to find the (unofficial) Mark Hollis and Talk Talk home page which is really excellent. There you'll find a nice tribute to the music and the wonderful lyrics for all the albums. Seriously check out the lyrics for "Laughing Stock" which are so utterly poetic and profound.  I'm not one for celebrity playlists (see Jan. 2006) but I look at them from time to time out of curiosity.  It is interesting to see that this album is listed (and specifically 'New Grass') by Matthew Good (who calls it a mesmerizing track that he's been enamored with for the better part of 15 years) and Jason McGerr from Death Cab for Cutie ('I would not be making music if this track did not exist.') They're among my favourite artists so it's cool to see the inspiration and hear the deserved high praise for Talk Talk.


I'm often surprised by the number of people, whom I consider well educated...musically, who have never heard this album. Laughing Stock and Spirit Of Eden are two albums that I could not live without... always on my list with The Colour Of Spring, Sandinista, The Trinity Sessions and O.K. Computer as some of the greatest music ever.

À écouter absolument

Un chef d'oeuvre !!! Trop sous-estimé à sa sortie. Mais 18 ans après, il n'est pas trop tard pour l'écouter.


Formed: 1981 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

With the exception of a handful of common threads -- chief among them the plaintive vocals and haunting lyrics of frontman Mark Hollis -- there is little to suggest that the five studio LPs that make up the Talk Talk oeuvre are indeed the work of the same band throughout. After beginning their career with records virtually epitomizing the new wave era that spawned them, the British group never looked back, making significant strides with each successive album on its way to discovering a wholly unique...
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