15 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Dark, hypnotic, almost unbearably tense, Fear of Music nonetheless marks the moment when the Talking Heads became a full-on dance band. Recorded at the dawn of the Reagan era, the album’s air of Orwellian menace might seem at odds with the sheer rump-shaking power of its rhythm section. “There’s a party in my mind … and it never stops,” David Byrne sings through the spooky cacophony of “Memories Can’t Wait,” and while that may be true, it’s not necessarily one you’d want to linger at. Produced by Brian Eno and laden with overdubs, effects, and distortion, Fear of Music revolves around the twin poles of Byrne’s high-strung vocals and the increasingly funky groove of Tina Weymouth’s bass. Post-apocalyptic paranoia and existential dread are the dominant emotional modes, with “Life During Wartime” providing survival tips of the scariest sort: “You oughta know not to stand by the window/ Somebody see you up there.” If there was ever a record that summed up the uneasy mood of the time, this was it. Yet the exhilarating opener, “I Zimbra,” is the flip side to this dystopian vision. African polyrhythms, a tribal-sounding Dada chant and Robert Fripp’s guitar weave and pulse around one another for a sound that’s futuristic and primitive at the same time. A brilliant marriage of brain and booty, anxiety and art, Fear of Music wasn’t quite like anything we’d heard before — or since.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Dark, hypnotic, almost unbearably tense, Fear of Music nonetheless marks the moment when the Talking Heads became a full-on dance band. Recorded at the dawn of the Reagan era, the album’s air of Orwellian menace might seem at odds with the sheer rump-shaking power of its rhythm section. “There’s a party in my mind … and it never stops,” David Byrne sings through the spooky cacophony of “Memories Can’t Wait,” and while that may be true, it’s not necessarily one you’d want to linger at. Produced by Brian Eno and laden with overdubs, effects, and distortion, Fear of Music revolves around the twin poles of Byrne’s high-strung vocals and the increasingly funky groove of Tina Weymouth’s bass. Post-apocalyptic paranoia and existential dread are the dominant emotional modes, with “Life During Wartime” providing survival tips of the scariest sort: “You oughta know not to stand by the window/ Somebody see you up there.” If there was ever a record that summed up the uneasy mood of the time, this was it. Yet the exhilarating opener, “I Zimbra,” is the flip side to this dystopian vision. African polyrhythms, a tribal-sounding Dada chant and Robert Fripp’s guitar weave and pulse around one another for a sound that’s futuristic and primitive at the same time. A brilliant marriage of brain and booty, anxiety and art, Fear of Music wasn’t quite like anything we’d heard before — or since.

TITLE TIME

More By Talking Heads

You May Also Like