15 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

This is the album on which the Talking Heads came into their own. Sure, 77 was charming, in its faux-naïve, art-school way, but More Songs finds the band pushing their eccentricities to new, harder-edged heights, the signature cat-scratch guitars scuffling around crisp, martial beats. Brian Eno’s production punches up the drums and bass for a weird fusion of funk, punk, and New Wave herky-jerk that almost 30 years later still sounds fresh and new. As repetitive and rhythmically complex as dance grooves, the music is twitchy and buoyant, the lyrics weirdly abstract, like corporate reports written by a non-native speaker: “A straight line exists between me and the good things. I have found the line and its direction is known to me,” Byrne sings on “The Good Thing,” talking about math, or God, or who knows? “Found a Job” layers cynicism and sincerity in a song about a couple who finds marital bliss through TV, while the band’s curiously stiff-legged take on Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” nonetheless builds up a genuine head of gospel steam. Weirdest of all, David Byrne actually sings on “The Big Country,” a pastoral vision of America as seen from the window of a plane, the satirically twangy guitar broken by Byrne’s nasty rebuke: “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me. I couldn’t live like that, no sirree!”

EDITORS’ NOTES

This is the album on which the Talking Heads came into their own. Sure, 77 was charming, in its faux-naïve, art-school way, but More Songs finds the band pushing their eccentricities to new, harder-edged heights, the signature cat-scratch guitars scuffling around crisp, martial beats. Brian Eno’s production punches up the drums and bass for a weird fusion of funk, punk, and New Wave herky-jerk that almost 30 years later still sounds fresh and new. As repetitive and rhythmically complex as dance grooves, the music is twitchy and buoyant, the lyrics weirdly abstract, like corporate reports written by a non-native speaker: “A straight line exists between me and the good things. I have found the line and its direction is known to me,” Byrne sings on “The Good Thing,” talking about math, or God, or who knows? “Found a Job” layers cynicism and sincerity in a song about a couple who finds marital bliss through TV, while the band’s curiously stiff-legged take on Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” nonetheless builds up a genuine head of gospel steam. Weirdest of all, David Byrne actually sings on “The Big Country,” a pastoral vision of America as seen from the window of a plane, the satirically twangy guitar broken by Byrne’s nasty rebuke: “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me. I couldn’t live like that, no sirree!”

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
55 Ratings
55 Ratings
Mavhunter

Buildings and Food, Indeed

Yet another Talking Heads rerelease, this one being their second album. Every song's great, but a few lose the punch of the album along the way. The bonuses are great - you can see what Brian Eno brought to the band by checking out the two versions of Stay Hungry. Oh, right. This album has Take Me To the River. Guess you have to buy it now.

old punk

Punk, Funk, Brian Eno and Quirkiness

I saw the band in 1978, shortly after the release of this album, at the Cleveland Agora (a large bar). It ranks as one of the best concerts I've ever seen. Tina Weymouth, who is about as tall as her bass guitar, thumped out the opening chords to Psycho killer and I was enthralled, slightly spooked, and somewhat aroused. David Byrne and the rest of the band were still in their rock-minimalist presentation phase, so the bandmembers didn't speak at all between numbers. At the end, David Byrne stepped up to the microphone and said "are there any questions?" This album, produced by Brian Eno, contains songs that will echo in my mind forever---Take Me to the River, The Big Country, Stay Hungry, Artists Only. Everytime I fly and look out the window, the words and music of The Big Country come into my mind, having lived rural and now urban. "I wouldn't live there if you paid me."

lakersman

TALKING HEADS ROCK!

One of the great bands of the 80s. This is a really cool album. A lot of good songs. Check out some of their other stuff.

Peace

About Talking Heads

At the start of their career, Talking Heads were all nervous energy, detached emotion, and subdued minimalism. When they released their last album about 12 years later, the band had recorded everything from art-funk to polyrhythmic worldbeat explorations and simple, melodic guitar pop. Between their first album in 1977 and their last in 1988, Talking Heads became one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '80s, while managing to earn several pop hits. While some of their music can seem too self-consciously experimental, clever, and intellectual for its own good, at their best Talking Heads represent everything good about art-school punks.

And they were literally art-school punks. Guitarist/vocalist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, and bassist Tina Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early '70s; they decided to move to New York in 1974 to concentrate on making music. The next year, the band won a spot opening for the Ramones at the seminal New York punk club CBGB. In 1976, keyboardist Jerry Harrison, a former member of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, was added to the lineup. By 1977, the band had signed to Sire Records and released its first album, Talking Heads: 77. It received a considerable amount of acclaim for its stripped-down rock & roll, particularly Byrne's geeky, overly intellectual lyrics and uncomfortable, jerky vocals.

For their next album, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food, the band worked with producer Brian Eno, recording a set of carefully constructed, arty pop songs, distinguished by extensive experimenting with combined acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as touches of surprisingly credible funk. On their next album, the Eno-produced Fear of Music, Talking Heads began to rely heavily on their rhythm section, adding flourishes of African-styled polyrhythms. This approach came to a full fruition with 1980's Remain in Light, which was again produced by Eno. Talking Heads added several sidemen, including a horn section, leaving them free to explore their dense amalgam of African percussion, funk bass and keyboards, pop songs, and electronics.

After a long tour, the band concentrated on solo projects for a couple of years. By the time of 1983's Speaking in Tongues, the band had severed its ties with Eno; the result was an album that still relied on the rhythmic innovations of Remain in Light, except within a more rigid pop-song structure. After its release, Talking Heads embarked on another extensive tour, which was captured on the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film Stop Making Sense. After releasing the straightforward pop album Little Creatures in 1985, Byrne directed his first movie, True Stories, the following year; the band's next album featured songs from the film. Two years later, Talking Heads released Naked, which marked a return to their worldbeat explorations, although it sometimes suffered from Byrne's lyrical pretensions.

After its release, Talking Heads were put on "hiatus"; Byrne pursued some solo projects, as did Harrison, and Frantz and Weymouth continued with their side project, Tom Tom Club. In 1991, the band issued an announcement that they had broken up. Shortly thereafter, Harrison's production took off with successful albums by Live and Crash Test Dummies. In 1996, the original lineup minus Byrne reunited for the album No Talking Just Head; Byrne sued Frantz, Weymouth, and Harrison for attempting to record and perform as Talking Heads, so the trio went by the Heads. In 1999, all four worked together to promote a 15th-anniversary edition of Stop Making Sense, and they also performed at the 2002 induction ceremony for their entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Through the 2010s, Byrne released a number of solo and collaborative projects. Tom Tom Club continued to tour, while Harrison produced albums for the likes of No Doubt, the Von Bondies, and Hockey. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

ORIGIN
New York, NY
GENRE
Rock
FORMED
1974

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