Tag Archives: David Byrne

Rocks In The Attic #419: Talking Heads – ‘More Songs About Buildings And Food’ (1978)

RITA#419This is the second Talking Heads record, released two weeks to the day I was born in 1978. I always spot in those lists that the number one record when I was born was You’re The One That I Want by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. I think I prefer this.

The one thing that amazes me about this album – except for the music of course – is the cover. It’s probably one of my favourite pieces of album artwork – a collage of 529 close-up polaroid photos, showing the four members of the band standing looking at the camera. I never see this regarded as being a classic album cover though. Maybe it’s a little too artsy for classic rock fans – but as far as pop art goes, this is a beautiful image.

This is the first Heads album to feature Brian Eno in the producer’s chair – a partnership that would eventually see them change the face of American music, turning new wave into alternative rock, paving the way for the likes of R.E.M. and subsequently Nirvana and beyond. In terms of a comparison to their first album, this one is tighter and, dare I say it, not as fun as that debut record. One of my favourite looser moments on Talking Heads: 77 is the steel drum break in opening song Uh-Oh, Love Comes To To Town. You still hear steel drums on More Songs…, but this time it’s in a much more controlled manner (towards the end of Found A Job).

That said, Bryne is still having a whale of a time, whooping and hollering on songs like Artists Only. Here you can hear him starting to loosen up, heading in the direction of his crazy vocal performance on Once In A Lifetime. Maybe that was Eno’s plan all along – get the band under control, but let Byrne go crazy over the top?

Hit: Take Me To The River

Hidden Gem: Thank You For Sending Me An Angel

Rocks In The Attic #346: Talking Heads – ‘Stop Making Sense’ (1987)

RITA#346The first time I was exposed to this album was seeing a clip of Jonathan Demme’s concert film in an Amsterdam bar. The place had a video jukebox, and somebody selected this. I’d never seen David Byrne jigging around in his oversize suit before. I might have been a little drunk / stoned at the time, so it probably made much more sense than it should have done.  I also remember the video we watched after this – Stevie Ray Vaughan playing a live version of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).

The weird thing about this Talking Heads album is that it’s a live album but it sounds like a studio album. You get a bit of obligatory cheering at the end of each song, but each song tends to start without any ambient noise whatsoever. There’s silence and then the band just starts playing. I’m presuming it’s simply presented how it was recorded, without any subsequent tinkering to make it sound more ‘live’ than it actually is. And it sounds all the better for it.

I’ve been to a lot of gigs and have hardly ever heard an almost endless wall of cheering between songs. Maybe I’m going to see the wrong bands! Yet live albums usually present that particular phenomenon as the norm. It’s almost as if every live album is trying to recreate George Martin’s problematic jet engine screaming between songs on The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl.

I once listened to a CD of Aerosmith’s Live! Bootleg on shuffle and you could hardly tell it was playing in a different running order. The reason? The wall of crowd noise between each song was essentially the same noise – same pitch, same volume, virtually identical.

Since then, I’ve always eyed live albums with suspicion. They’re usually pretty pointless anyway, aren’t they? Is there a live album out there that actually adds something integral to a band’s oeuvre?

Hit: Once In A Lifetime

Hidden Gem: Burning Down The House