Talking Heads

Sissy college art wussy pansies... who can really cut a boogie-woogie groove rug!!!
*special introductory paragraph!
*More Songs About Buildings And Food
*Fear Of Music
*Remain In Light
*(Ben Greenstein reviews) The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (LP)
*The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (double-CD)
*Speaking In Tongues
*Stop Making Sense
*Little Creatures
*True Stories
*(Ben Greenstein reviews) Sand In The Vaseline (Popular Favorites)
Art nerds who really knew how to shake the ol' butt thing, NYC's Talking Heads appear to be one of those "love-em-or-shave-'em-and-ram-'em-up-my-ass" bands that somehow managed to have a few big hits during the course of their career. The main draw, of course, was the frenetic geekiness of "genius" David Byrne, the combo's quivery vocalist and main songwriter who was just as likely to try to scare your nose off with his Eno-assisted weirdo drone poems as he was to get your buns up and flappin' with the African world beat disco that made up the rest of the band's catalogueueueue. Lots of people simply despise the band, and it's not hard to see why; the vocals are cold and new wavey, and very often entirely uninviting - and lots of times the melodies are so irritating that it takes a full five or six minutes for the art of repetition to finally reveal the true hypnotic power of the layered instrumentation to the few listeners who have stuck around long enough to hear it. Dig? When they were on, they were on in italics, but, like many a fine band, they weren't on all the time, again in italics. Keep reading and perhaps you'll want to buy a Talking Heads record your own self! Wouldn't that be pleasant?

'77 - Sire 1977.
Rating = 8

Knowing what we now know about the twisted turns and global shimmies that the Talkers were bound to take throughout their illustrious career, this first one today comes across as a pleasantly normal surprise, but at the time it came out, it must've been weirder than heck. See, it sounds like a guitar pop album created by a bunch of people who have just had full frontal lobotomies. The grooves are jagged, the drumbeats are stiff, the melodies are kinda cold - almost as if the band members never met each other nor desired to, but simply had a little musicbook in front of them telling them exactly how all the songs should go.

Strangely, most of 'em go GREAT!!!! A lot of the melodies are refreshingly novel and memorable, and a few of 'em ("No Compassion" comes to mind) are among the finest they would ever do. You've heard "Psycho Killer," right? Then you see what I'm talking about. Devo does Beatles? If not, then when? If why, then how? If you'd like to give this band a chance, but you're not sure that you're emotionally ready to deal with somber Enoisms and tribal disco, I'd definitely recommend getting this one first. Creative, idiosyncratic and, though not without its faults, a very rewarding record. I mean, like, it gives you a dollar every time you listen to it. Well, symbolically. A spiritual dollar. Which reminds me - Johnny Ramone hated this band. Thought they were a bunch of sissies. And he was probably right - they were definitely more intellectual and less noisy than most of those New York "punk" bands - but dammit, these songs are catchy! Give EVERYTHING a chance - even if only a small one! I bought this album for a dollar back when I thought I HATED the Talking Heads, and I was proven wrong. Wouldn't you like the same to happen to you?

Reader Comments
FUCK NO! I hated the Heads when they were together and I hate them now that they're apart. (David Straub)
Talking Heads were nifty, but IMHO they were severely overshadowed by another NYC class of '76/'77 band -- Television. Sadly, these guys are about as underrated as Syd-era Floyd or Midnight Oil. Tom Verlaine was the only man ever to play the guitar like Jerry Garcia in a punk rock band. Weird, immediate, absolutely essential music. (Rich Bunnell)
Everyone bashes True Stories for being simplistic but doesn’t dare bash this one for doing the exact same thing just because it’s from the Heads’ early period. That’s probably because the songs are just naturally that way and aren’t simplistic in a pretentious "I’m David Byrne and this is what I think of your silly ‘pop’ music!" way. Still, while the songs bounce along nicely at some points—the classic "Psycho Killer" of course and "No Compassion," plus the closer "Pulled Up" I think, Byrne’s vocals and melodies aren’t nearly of the caliber that they reach on later albums like Fear Of Music and Remain In Light. If the band had continued on this path without Eno jumping in for the next album, the formula would’ve run dry for sure. It’s partially good, even though the chorus of "Happy Day" nearly makes me cringe. 6/10
Psycho Killer Rocks! Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer Pyscho Killer
Wait just a minute. I was rude and unfair. I finally let this album sink in, and hoo boy, let me tell you that the simplicity of these tunes is deceptive (except in the case of "Love Comes To Town"). These songs are some of the best ever made by anyone!! Well, maybe not, on second thought, but I still now think that this album is worth the receiving of a high 8.

Doug hates the Heads but likes Devo? Aren't they pretty much two sides of the same coin?
This album was my first exposure to the Heads, my first giddy inhalation of that rarified air!!! Before the heads became dominated by David Byrne, the songs seemed to be fun and yet also had a depth to them as well. This albums' best song in my humble opinion was "Book I Read". (David D.)
i agree with BigJim. That is probably the best song. i wish i had been old enough and cool when '77 had just come out.
This albums a flat psychologically-oriented rip off of the Modern Lover's first album 10 years before.. Throw this album out! (Jason Adams)
Great collection of simple pop songs before everything got muddled, world-beated, and Eno-fied. The sadly unappreciated Tony Bongiovi had a strong mainstream sensibility that worked perfectly with David Byrne's artistic pretentions to make one of the band's best albums.
Pretty good. Even the really poppy songs are great. My personal favorite here is The Book I Read. No complaints. Every song is great. 9/10
Excellent record! This contains a lot of interesting idiosyncracies coupled with great, catchy melodys, which, most times are idiosyncratic and paranoid sounding itself complimenting the music. The classics are of course "Psycho Killer", and "No Compassion", which are both wonderfully catchy and joyful, and at the same time paranoid, in which David Byrne sounds like he's having a panic attack at the mic (especially the latter). "Happy Day" is beautiful, and i love "Love Comes To Town", and "Pulled Up" very much. The rest are enjoyable in their own ways as well, although some songs get samey sounding in the simplistic production. I agree with the 8.
Dude, my friend Bobby Grossman [okay, he was the official photographer for TV Party and he's got a killer punk portfolio and lots of connections...he's lucky] is friends with the Talking Heads and had their original demo tape for the longest time, never duplicated it, it was apparently their first good material, they were in some crumby party band before that. (Jerry Davis)
Dude, talking heads kick serious ass, I don’t get how people don’t like them. DougS can kiss a fat ass cause they rock, apparently he doesn’t like to do drugs…anyone who’s anyone knows the heads are like the best stoner band to listen to…they fucking rock. I wanna meet them really bad
Don't listen to YusefBapu; Don't read anymore reviews. Listen to the music, all music is up to you if it's good or not. I don't think this album is a Modern Lovers rip-off at all. What doesn't sound a little like something else? There is nothing wrong with this album.
This is a very happy album made a classic by the paranoid edge. I never thought I could like a songs like "Happy Day", "The Book I Read", "First Day/Last Week Carefree", "Tentative Decsion", and "Uh-Oh Love Comes To Town, but after 20 some years they are still fun.. My favorite is "Don't Worry About The Government" though. Every bit the classic "Psycho Killer" is and with even more paranoia. An awesome document of The Talking Heads at this time and place in their lives.

Hugh Danielson
“Don’t Worry About the Government” was as about as different as anything else at the time. Remember this was the time of the Carpenters, Captain ‘n’ Tenille, and John Denver. Most of the punk at the time just screamed about how wrong it was, this little song just ignores it all and heads off in a completely different direction.

Man, it took me a long time to get into this one. I didn't like the weird guitar sounds and especially David's voice. The songs didn't really make any sense either. Also, around the time I was getting into the Heads, I was also getting into the much more accessible Blondie and Elvis Costello. After about a year, I grew to like this album a lot. It's very even, and not one song on here I don't like. It's just that the best three songs ("Pulled Up", "Psycho Killer", "Love Comes to Town" - in that order) completely overshadow the rest of the songs. I'll give this one an 8 (or 7.77).

Add your thoughts?

More Songs About Buildings And Food - Sire 1978.
Rating = 8


Reader Comments
I do not understand this six. Sure, this album is "new wave" (just a music industry label; musicians usually do not want to be labeled) but it still is the finest Heads album. I give it a 10. The quirkiness and artiness of the album really helps it out. Brian Eno does a fantastic production job, Tina Weymouth plays a pretty funky bass, and David Byrne gives fantastic vocal performances for everything on the album. Not all new wave is bad, by the way. It only gets bad by the eighties. I think you should review your scores for the Cure albums before you knock Talking Heads.
You got this one WAY wrong..jagged and jumpy like..well I don't know. The best track is "I'm Not in Love" not "Take Me To The River" and it has got more guitars (as in sorta cantankerous) than any of their other albums. So there!
What is up with the 6, Mark? True, when I first heard this album, I couldn't stand it. But like you said, you just need to give it a couple of listens, and then the repetitions will work their magic and soon the Heads will have you under their spell again. Besides, who can beat "Artists Only" and "Warning Sign" in terms of sheer weirdness? Plus, "The Big Country" is the best song Byrne ever wrote, and "Found A Job" is one of their finest tunes. I'd give it an 8 or a 9, depending on which mood I'm in. (Ben Greenstein)
THIS IS NOT NEW WAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At least, not by your defenition of New Wave being "bouncy" and "catchy". I mean, listen to "With Our Love". It's dark, chaotic, and wierd. The rythyms on this one are still jerky and odd, the melodies are still cold, the only difference is that now they've been classified as "new wave". Which is really a kiss of death, seeing as most of the other "new wave" acts either broke up or sold out by 1985. Then again, so did the heads, so never mind.

This one gets an eight or nine for me. I, too, worship the opening track, as do I "Take Me To The River." The best songs, though, are those three at the beginning of side two - those with all the tempo changes, feedback and weird lyrics. Example - "I'm painting, I'm painting again". How observant. And I think that "The Big Country" shows Byrne's growing fascination with suburban America, which would reach it's peak with the awful True Stories and the excellant Music For the Knee Plays.

Love his solo stuff, by the way.
Eh? Why does every reviewer suddenly hate this album? Eno took the first album, glossed it over with his unique production, the songs better! The songs are weird, but that was the case on the first album, and now they have more experienced bandmembers and fuller production to back it up. Particularly great are the first three songs, "The Girls Want To Be With The Girls," and of course the wonderfully-sly "Take Me To The River"(the only Talking Heads song I've heard get classic rock airplay)! Hell, I like the whole thing! A nine! (David D.)
Hey, this is a great album. Probably their best after Fear Of Music, and Remain In Light. Also, what is so wrong about new wave? A lot of great music came out of new wave. It was fresh, and exciting. Certainly much more interesting than what was on the radio at the time. You had tthe choice of disco, or crappy, mundane AOR band such as Foreigner, Boston, or Kansas. BLECH! Give me this album any day over such mindless, boring music as those bands. (Jason Adams)
Seems like a cross between the upbeat pop of the debut and the gloominess of Fear Of Music. It's all really fun until someone loses an eye during "Artists Only". I love the little funky jam at the end of "Found A Job". (Alex Temple)
This is the best Heads album I've heard. The songs are more musically interesting than on '77, but Byrne still sounds tense and neurotic, which is most of what I like about him. Most of what I've heard after this album sounds too smooth to me.
I'm with Prindle. While I would still give the album about an 8, I think it is VERY over-rated. The first half is great, but the second half slows things down. I never really cared too much for Take Me To The River. I don't get it. It just kind of sits there for five minutes without really changing any. It's okay, but it seems very anti-climactic, and it just doesn't dazzle me like it does for everyone else. The closer The Big Country is nice though.
Straight lines exist between me and the good things. I have found the line and its direction is known to me. Absolute trust keeps me going in the right direction. Any intrusion is met with the heart full of the good things.
This is the real masterpiece of the Talking heads. Then Fear Of music, Remain In Light and '77. It's great!!!!!!!!!!!!
6??? With all that guitar sounding like the 3rd Velvets record! 10 out of 5
I really go back and forth on this album. It is so understated. I always wondered why it was held in such high acclaim myself. Than I would listen to it and it became my favorite. I don't really like "Take Me To The River", but things like "I'm Not In Love", "Found A Job", "The Big Country", are wonderfully entertaining and even lower key songs like "Warning Sign", and "The Girls Want To Be With The Girls", really compliment the record. 9/10
This is actually a good CD to smoke pot to. :-)

After reading you’re review on “More Songs About Buildings and Food” (that, of course, was before you updated it) I was always wondering “maybe he just hasn’t listened to it enough”. Eureka!! If there is something negative I have to say about this album it’s the fact that you WILL NOT GET IT the first (or even second and third) time you listen to it. It REALLY does take several listens to get to like it. But man oh man, these have got to be the most twisted, catchy and peculiar songs that I could remember listening to, they WILL in fact get you hooked. Definitely my favorite Heads record, the rhythm section is very tight and even though Eno is behind the production it still feels pretty light and straightforward, not as dense and layered as the following albums. Essential.
I actually don't know very much Talking Heads aside from the hits compilations and Remain In Light, but I adored Remain In Light and had managed to perfect my David Byrne singing imitation on a couple of the songs while driving, so I picked this one up. Boy, it sounds different from Remain In Light, but I like it a lot. I didn't at first, though! I actually agreed with Mark's original rating of 6; in fact, I would even have gone with a 5 on a bad day. As I said before, I am chummy and very appreciative of it now, but at first listen I would probably have said, "Yeah, you guys can groove pretty well, but you're not Funkadelic yet, so write a little while you're at it! There's a difference between being smart and low-key and being too low-key and way too clever by half, and you're disco dancing in the latter category! Incomprehensible in-jokes should not be the basis for lyrics, much less entire songs!" The only ones that appealed to me were the ones that seemed to break with the formula set throughout the LP, such as "The Big Country," which is tied with another song as my favorite here, and "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel," which was a good song to start with. I didn't even like the hit cover of "Take Me To The River" that much; it felt way too draggy and not funky enough. I didn't hate any of the songs, really, but it was all so monotonous!

It has this weird nerdy funk groove going on through most of it, and at first listen I could barely tell the songs apart. I knew which was which while I was listening, but afterwards, I couldn't remember really any of the songs that well, apart from a couple, and I felt vaguely nervous. It didn't sit that well with me and so I didn't listen again for a long time. It felt too uniform and too jittery. The guitar tones were great, completely organic but somehow sounding a little synthesized, probably the Eno production, and the rhythm section was okay, with Tina Weymouth always being melodic and bouncy, but Chris Frantz's drumming felt too stiff and David Byrne seemed vocally to be going through amphetamine withdrawal, wailing, hemming, and hawing all over the place. I admired that he could do that in tune, unlike, say, Pere Ubu's David Thomas (who is awesome, but can grate at times), but it seemed a little excessive; is she really an angel, David, or is she just a blowup doll that you decided to see "Love Story" with that night? His worldview seemed a little too isolated for comfort, and apparently he really liked playing indistinct semi-funk songs like he was a surgeon lobotomizing every chord change. This apparently is a problem for other listeners too; in his review, George Starostin sandwiches every song from "With Our Love" to "Stay Hungry" together and calls it "The Big Groove."

But the songwriting is also uniformly good and in some cases truly excellent. It's just that most of the songs are done in the same style, or close to it, so it promotes a feeling of cohesion and flow very well - probably too well, judging from my first reaction. "With Our Love" is a fascinating song about how people deal with love because the lyrics analyze love like a logic problem; it also helps that you start wondering why Byrne is observing all these people from a window. The line about education and sophistication is definitely a Sly Stone reference, since Sly used the same rhyme on 1971's "There's A Riot Goin' On" and had to be a huge influence on the Heads' funkier material. Musically, "The Good Thing" sounds very pretty, and the massed Tina Weymouth backing vocals are hilarious. But it's with "Warning Sign" that we get true excellence; one of the most nervous songs ever written, without a doubt. It's amazing how a weirdly echoed snare, Byrne's quivering vocal entrance, and a smooth minor chord being played over a major chord structure can make the listener feel like all their plans for the future are going to fail miserably. I wouldn't say it's overtly insane, but it's definitely disturbed and disturbing; this kind of subtlety is where the Heads can clobber you. A definite highlight. "The Girls Want To Be With The Girls" takes all the tension away with a fantastic riff (the guitar sounds like a harpsichord and the keyboard sounds close to the regular guitar tone), and a really funny and quite true set of lyrics about how girls want to be with girls because boys either don't understand what they say or overanalyze what they talk about. Hm, maybe this is why I can't get laid. It's probably also because I spend all my free time posting record reviews. I fully acknowledge my nerd status.

"Found A Job" is tied as my favorite song on the album along with "The Big Country," because it's hilarious, fantastically catchy (those guitars!), truly danceable, and best of all, it now sounds scarily farsighted. What Byrne originally meant as a satiric joke has become reality, with the rise of the Internet and of sites like The only thing that's different is no one's getting paid to do their stuff on YouTube. How in hell did Byrne manage to predict this so perfectly? It nails the viral video culture down to a T before anyone had even HEARD of viral videos. Absolute brilliance.

"Artists Only" is funny, but it makes me edgy, not only because the riff is really creepy, but also because I love to draw, and I know that I've been like that before when I've tried to draw or paint something and I've gotten wrapped up in it. Can't see it till it's finished! Go away! I have to finish this now! So, even though I know the lyrics are funny, it also makes me wonder if I get to that level. I don't much like "I'm Not In Love" or "Stay Hungry," and "Take Me To The River" is a big break from the preceding songs. It's an Al Green cover, and it's interesting and pretty fun, though I wouldn't say it's the best song on here. It is the song where David Byrne sounds most like a functioning human instead of a nervy and nerdy jitterbug, so maybe that's why they chose it as the single. It's good.

But "The Big Country" is fantastic. People say it's overlong, has a bad melody, and completely boring. I say people are idiotic whitebread drones with soda cans for ears and that it says more about cultural divides in the U.S. than almost any other song I've ever heard. With a gorgeously lyrical, slow lead slide guitar part from Jerry Harrison that I adore, and a big, boxy acoustic rhythm guitar, coupled with Tina Weymouth's authoritative bass and Frantz's usual lockstep march (funny how he'd move from this to "Born Under Punches" in two years), Byrne details flying over the U.S. and seeing all these pretty farms out in the middle of nowhere, all these small towns, all the gorgeous scenery of the American Midwest, and he then says, unexpectedly, "I wouldn't live there if you paid me to...I couldn't do the things the way those people do." He's not being mean; he's just saying that he's a city person and probably wouldn't be able to function out there. But he then says at the end that he's tired of travelling, that he wants to be somewhere (as opposed to the middle of nowhere - e.g., the big country), and that it's not worth talking about the people who live down there under the airplane, which means that he may want to live in the city because he really doesn't understand people who don't live in the city. You probably know the type - politically liberal, thinks of himself as upwardly mobile and diverse, but actually not as openminded or as liberal as he thinks he is. People from rural areas are stereotyped as closeminded and prejudicial - and there is quite a bit of truth inside that stereotype - but Byrne's turned it around on the people doing the stereotyping, showing that what people diagnose isn't actually so far from their real states of mind. Again, absolute brilliance, and I love it.

Overall, I'd say an A minus, because "I'm Not In Love," "Stay Hungry," and "With Our Love" don't really make an impression, and the style through most of the record is monotonous. But the best songs are real highlights of the Talking Heads catalog, and just fantastic. "More Songs About Buildings And Food" isn't the most welcoming album, but it's awfully good. Before I forget, Brian Eno did a great job producing this, so give him a round of applause. Sometimes I wonder why he didn't just join Talking Heads as a fifth member for the three albums he was on. Hey, that's practically what he was. Also, the guitars are fantastic, so kudos to Byrne and especially Jerry Harrison for great work. The best album to put on before going to work.
Yay! I'm proud of you prindle-san for seein' the light! This album is chock full'o weird but catchy tunes. Musically, they've progressed so much from the sparse 77. Side 2 does drag a bit though. I don't give much hoot about the country song (lyrics are great though! Goes with the theme about the surreal aspect of modern life) but the Al Green cover woulda made the Reverend himself proud if he heard it! Byrne makes it his own & retains the soul (albeit a honky one!) with his wailing, tired singin. The first side is just loaded with weird, funky post-punk tunes! Gotta love that steel drums on "found a job". A creative album that avoids the sophomore slump :)

I'm convinced they had a huge influence & served as a guiding light for handful of british art-punks trying to progress beyond the faster/harder school of punkrock (ie XTC).

I just realized this now (and I've known this album for about a year and a half now), but this one is more poppier than the first one. Songs are a lot more accessible, and not to mention "better". I'm really thinking of the last two songs here, god I fucking love those songs. "Take Me to the River" has that great, creepy bassline running throughout and "The Big Country" has some lovely guitar parts (including a slide(!)). Not a weak track anywhere, this is my favorite heads album.

Add your thoughts?

Fear Of Music - Sire 1979.
Rating = 7

Eno's all dang over this one - creepy, creepy, creepy. I'm not sure whose hooler they pulled the album title out of, though - this is certainly a musical record, if not as upbeat and whimsical as, say, your typical Swans record. Perhaps they mean that it's an album of "Fear Of" music. "Fear of Animals," "Fear of Air," "Fear of Heaven," that sort of thing. That would make sense, I bet!

The problem here isn't new wave - it's boring moody filler. The great songs are shiveringly spine-yanking (my favorite is the philosophical dream ballad "Heaven," but yours might be the bizarre, boppy "Life During Wartime"), but too many of these paranoid little rants, as lyrically interesting as they are, just don't do enough musically to warrant their measly existence. Not lengthy enough to be hypnotic, they're simply forgettable. Some folks swear by this album, but I just hear boring atmospherics - and not even CATCHY atmospherics like that third Throbbing Gristle album, but really annoying and ugly atmospherics like that third basemen for the Seattle Mariners.

Reader Comments (Stephane Ouimet)
I don't agree. That ugliness you speak of has its moments. Picasso once said that good taste is enemy to art, and it's true, here. The song "Animals", with its weirdness, its 7/8 tempo and paranoid lyrics, does NOT sound like generic new wave. I don't swear by this album either, but i think it's pretty neat. Like i say, real talent is like the pope's shit: it's rare, it comes from some sacred vessel, but it always smells real bad... There's always a good dose of disturbing stuff in great albums. (Mark Cybulski)
Between this and Remain In Light, this is the band's best period. "Drugs" and "Memories Can't Wait" are two of the best songs they ever did. "Paper", "Cities" and "Air" are classic pop. You can't help but not shake your ass to "Izimbra." I'd give it a 9, with Remain In Light a 10. (Terry Haggin)
Hey Mark, here is some light on the concept be-hynd this album. It is an album based on fear. Duhh my brain tells me as I type but just read off the titles of the songs and put the word "Fear of..." in front of each and then listen to the song and you will get it baby.

Let's try it, Ok DoK..

Fear of "air"
Fear of "paper"
Fear of "cities"
Fear of "heaven"

That was the Byrne man's plan Stan. A little Paul Simon reference for ya. Love than short balding guy, he was a genius and still is by the way. Paul my man, if you even stumble across this little interactive site, just know that I loves your academic doodles.

Why is Paul in here? He is another hi-brow New Yorkie art freakster like Byrnie, that's why. But not as flexible.

By the way, I sort of like this album but the cover is better than the music. Which says it all and says nothing too. A tefloneeey review of 6.
The music is really sparse and scary, and I -HATED- the album when I first bought it. It's really grown on me, however, despite all of the cold, disembodied rhythms. It simply has lots of good songs, "I Zimbra" most definitely being a favorite of mine, and "Drugs" being prime Eno. 9/10.
I just know I'm gonna get yelled at for this, but Fear of Music is better than Remain In Light for my money. You just gotta shake your rump to "I Zimbra" and "Cities" has to be a forerunner of sorts to techno and club music. Plus, "Mind," "Electric Guitar" and "Drugs" are classic Heads tunes in terms of weirdness, "Life During Wartime" is a lyrical masterpiece (go ahead, laugh, you're just too shallow to admit it yourself), "Memories Can't Wait" is their best Velvet Underground imitation yet, "Air" and "Heaven" manage to be pretty and creepy at the same time and "Animals" is so paranoid and punky that it's among their most underrated songs. AND WHY THE HELL WASN'T "PAPER" A HIT?! THAT SHOULD BE A GOD DAMN RADIO STAPLE!!! IT PISSES ME OFF WHEN THESE LAMEASS RADIO STATIONS ONLY PLAY THE TOP 40 OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THEM?!

Oh well, a 10, with Remain In Light a close 9. (Ben Greenstein)
I think it gets at least an eight (nine in my book) because the songs are all really good. Most of them, though, take quite some time to grow on you, but there's still some really catchy, bouncy stuff present. Including the smash "Life During Wartime," the groovy "Air," the gorgeous "Heaven," (which was covered and ruined in the film "Philadelphia"!), the insane "Memories Can't Wait," (which sounds nothing like the Velvet Underground), and the piano rocker "Cities."

And, on the other side, you've got cool wierdisms like "I Zimbra" and "Drugs." Wait - scratch that - those where also my initial faves. In fact, the only song I really hated at first was "Animals," which I still think is really lousy. Oh well - this gets a nine for me.
I always forget I have this album, and then somehow something reminds me I do. And I'm glad. Its a great album, forgettable only to be rediscover-able. The songs are small and taut, but quite brilliant. These are pop songs for the paranoid. Who, me? Edgy, nervous. I Zimbra is a wonderful bit of dadaist funk. Cities is funny with wacky freaked out rhythms. Paper, with its start and stop, should have been a hit, at least in my utopia. People should buy this album, then get pissed off they wasted their money on it, then listen to it again and really enjoy it. Then forget they have it, until somehow something reminds them they do.
Just one thing I forgot to say last time-- "Animals" has got to be one of the funniest songs I have ever heard, especially when the song just turns into an all-out paranoid anti-animal chant. The best part about it is that nobody but David Byrne could've pulled the song off that well! His vocals just -MAKE- the song!

By the way, Mike, "Fear Of Memories Can't Wait" can work perfectly - Byrne could be saying that his fear of memories is the most important one of all and must be dealt with first. Why he stuck it in the middle of the album then is beyond me, but whatever. I think that the original poster didn't clarify his point enough-- Instead of the album's title being Fear Of Music, a better way to explain it is "Fear Of" Music. In other words, it's music about being scared of a lot of things. The only Heads concept album! (David D.)
"Heaven"--i'm in an acoustic band with another guy, and we cover this song on occasion. it's beautiful in an absurd sort of way
I think all of you really just don't get this album. Don't any of you understand metaphors or jokes?

Firstly, "Air" is a song about vulnerability. Nobody would actually write a song about being afraid of air! It's supposed to relate the feeling of being exposed to the world without any protection, such as parents or whatever.

Secondly, "Electric Guitar" is about artistic freedom and 1st amendment rights, and the electric guitar stands for the arts. Think about the lyrics, and it's obvious:

An electric guitar is brought in to a court of law The judge and the jury (twelve members of the jury) All listening to records This is a crime against the state This is the verdict they reach:

Never listen to electric guitar

Electric guitar is copied, the copy sounds better Call this the law of justice, call this freedom and liberty I thought I perjure myself, right infront of the jury! Is this a crime against the state? No!

And "Animals"... it's not about paranoia. It's just supposed to be a funny song that parodies animal lovers by saying the exact opposite of what they think.

"Memories Can't Wait" is about how we are all trapped within our minds, and we can never escape. Remember when David says, "There's a party in mind... I'll be here all the time...I can never quit..."???

By the way, that idea about the "Fear of..." concept album is completely ridiculous. Fear of I Zimbra? Fear of electric guitar? Fear of paper? Common... you're really stretching it.

Fear of Music is a fantastic album, as is every album by Talking Heads. 10 star rating all the way!!! (Jason Adams)
Creepy! Thank you Brian Eno, who seems to take the fun out of everything he's involved with. Still a great album, but tracks like "Drugs" and "Paper" and "Electric Guitar" do nothing for me. But the rest, Ohhhh the rest!
Eno did a great job on this one. When I first heard it, I thought "Man, what an ugly record," but after a couple of listens I wound up loving it. I love Cities, Animals, Mind, and Heaven are great. In fact, I love everything but Electric Guitar. Good stuff. Under-rated too. 10/10 (James Mohr)
This is the best Talking Heads album no matter what anyone says. A ten (Remain in Light gets a close 9). Only Animals and Electric Guitars are less than excelent songs--everything else is great. There are lots of songs I can relate to (Cities, Mind, Memories cant Wait), and I dont know the fuck what Paper is about but its great too. White new wave guys who think theyre funky are normally people to dread, but the Heads got better when they got funkier--I dont get most of the appeal of the first two albums at all, but this and the couple that came after it are great. (Akis Katsman)
Terrific album. Schizophrenia doesn't get any better than this. My personal favourite is "Heaven" too. I even like "Electric Guitar" which is often overlooked. I gotta give this album a nine.
Reading the comments was great and shows why this album is so magical. It brings out really intelligent opinions. Yes it is an album you hate yourself for buying, than you listen to it again and again, until you realize how great it is. The fear of comments don't have to apply to everything. It does enough to make it a valuable insight. Yes they are afraid of "Air" in an intriguing way and "Animals" in a logical unthought of way along with other things that make perfect sense like a fear of "Life During Wartime". My favorite is also "Heaven", which presents the most beautiful example of how an atheist like myself thinks of life and its mystery and beauty. The only songs that don't work for me are "Drugs"(What they could have done if they only brought some musicality) and "Cities, which is a bit boring. I have to mention the classic "Memories Can't Wait". Another awesome song and "Paper", a bit slight, and not up to Memories, but always fun to listen to. A truly arty record that I'm sure will get a very mixed response, but when you get into it it is an undeniable masterpiece. 9/10
The first four albums are strong, but this is by far my favorite.

It requires a stretch of the imagination for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who finds FOM ugly or unmusical. I believe that the people who don't enjoy it haven't adjusted to the angularity of the music; the melodicism is there, but is more implied than spoon-fed. Not all assembly parts supplied by band. The listener has to participate, bridge the gaps within his own mind.

A just-add-water type of beauty, y'know.

That being said: the one song I have no use for is the one song that the mainstream ear has most embraced: "Life During Wartime". Now, that is a boring piece of music, my friend. The problem is that Byrne's lyrics have it exactly wrong: this IS INDEED DISCO, of the worst kind, wedding reception friendly!! Thud, thud, thud it goes upon my head. Next track please!

For the hardcore Eno naysayers out there, let it be known that the new dualdisc 5.1 mix jettisons much of the man's embellishments, leaving, for instance, a big fat Foreigner-sounding synth farting away in the midst of "Electric Guitar" (keyboardist Jerry Harrison, coincidentally(!), had a big hand in the new mixes). Eno had the good taste to distort it into fuzz and buzz; in Eno's mix it comes off sounding like a wheezy, tortured brass section.
This album is so paranoid that it should have been called "Fear of Happiness."

While I'll admit that "Fear of Music" takes a turn for the worse with the last couple songs, a 7 is just plain wrong. "Fear of Music" is a brilliant - and incredibly paranoid - album that is stuffed with much of the best material the band ever did.

I originally thought the concept that many have attached to this record (Fear of Air, Fear of Paper, Fear of Animals) is a little off, because, if that's true, how does Fear of I Zimbra fit in? I realized that "I Zimbra" serves as an appropriately surreal, nonsensical introduction to what is essentially a very surreal and nonsensical record.

While it is very surreal and nonsensical, the paranoia that suffuses "Fear of Music" nevertheless feels extremely real, sometimes to an unpleasant degree; you wonder if David Byrne actually believes the stuff he's singing, and that if he does, whether he shouldn't take a nice relaxing vacation at Bellevue sometime.

However, the lyrics are extremely well-written, as paranoid, antisocial, and nerve-wracked as they are, and Byrne's vocal performances on the album are consistently brilliant; one could make a case for this being the best Talking Heads album and have a pretty good case based around the vocals alone. Byrne somehow remains incredibly charismatic while essentially condemning and destroying anything people might even remotely take security in. "Mind"? Forget it! "Paper"? Yeah right! "Heaven"? You're crazy! This is a record where the happiest-sounding song is called "Life During Wartime" and one of the most paranoid-sounding songs is about "Air." That ought to be enough to tell you what kind of lyrical vision you're dealing with here.

The music on this album has been criticized as being less melodic and more unengagingly atmospheric than on either "More Songs About Buildings and Food" or "Remain In Light," but I personally think that's incorrect. It is true that many of the songs here are much more groove-based than they were previously; there are a lot of songs that have one riff worked into the ground with slight variations, still in the Talking Heads' signature style. But the riffs are better than anything the Talking Heads had previously come up with, and all the variations only increase the effectiveness of the basic riff: "Mind" has one of the most hypnotically mind-bending riffs I've ever heard, and "Cities," "Paper," "Air" and "I Zimbra" are all fiendishly catchy songs, distinguished by astounding rhythm guitar-vs.-drum grooves and Byrne's peaking antics as frontman. (Seriously, this record is an advanced course in Whiteboy Rhythm Guitar, and should be required listening for anyone with even a passing interest in the discipline. I'll just say one thing: this band wasn't using loops.) Plus, when there are more recognizably conventional verse-chorus songs, they're also among the best material the band ever had; "Heaven" is as lyrical, beautiful, and painful a rejection of religion as anyone has ever recorded, and "Life During Wartime" is another great, catchy single.

However, this album isn't perfect. "Memories Can't Wait," while featuring two great, completely different parts in the same song, doesn't have much of a transition between them; as such, it's far easier to hear the parts than it is the whole, which isn't a compliment. The song feels stitched together. And the album does take a downturn at the end: "Animals" suffers from the same problem that "Memories Can't Wait" does - except that the parts aren't nearly as brilliant in "Animals." But even here, I wouldn't condemn the album: "Electric Guitar" is a funny rant that is graced with a synth part that sounds like a pompous tuba, and "Drugs," while easily the most atmospheric and amelodic song here, is effectively atmospheric, although not in the way the song intended. If this was meant to make the listener feel like he, too, was on drugs, then the song's a massive failure; being on drugs doesn't feel like this. What the song does feel like is an abstract extrapolation of the paranoia you can get while on drugs - and in that way, it succeeds very well, because it fits in with the record's ethos: an abstract and nonsensical, but emotionally truthful examination of paranoia at its' most personally suffocating. (I also like Byrne's vocal performance too.)

Overall, "Fear of Music" probably isn't perfect enough to get a 9, but it deserves an 8.

Hugh Danielson
When this one first came out, I liked it better than the other two albums they had out at the time. With its dark metallic black diamond plate cover, the album seems to be more about a kind of darkness and isolation that comes with fame in lyrics like “Life in the Wartime” ,“Drugs”, “Paper”, and “Find a City” seeming to speak to the unbearable boredom of being on the road. I still think of this as their best effort. It seems to encompass more styles and directions than any of their other albums. The group could have gone in any direction after this record.

I expected to like this one a lot better than the previous two, considering all the ecstatic reviews this album gets. I don't get "Drugs" and "Electric Guitar" is kind of annoying. The albums great though other than that. It's certainly more interesting than the last two, and Brian Eno is clearly establishing himself here. Favorites are omnipresent again, but my two favorites (can't really decide on one) are "Memories Can't Wait" (I first heard this song done by Living Colour) and "Life During Wartime".

Add your thoughts?

Remain In Light - Sire 1980
Rating = 9

I originally gave this one the 'coveted' 10, but the The Name Of This Band Is double-CD did not exist at that time. Now it does!

Split personality thanks probably to Mr. Eno. The first four songs are a stone col' boogie breakdown, chugglin' and snugglin' and makin' your ass dance like a superdonkey with all kindsa layered rhythmic sassafrass showin' up all throughout the lengthy numbers to keep your ears every bit as fascinated as your groove butt. And one of 'em, by golly, is the classic "Once In A Lifetime," a song probably most memorable for the hilarious manic Byrne video performance it inspired, but every bit as uproarious and infectious a tune as watching the video with the sound off might make you hope. And the two-note bass line never changes!!!! Verse, chorus, verse, chorus - the bass line stays the same, as if the player hasn't even bothered to learn the changes. Funny. Smart. Cool. Like a good banana.

Then, of course, the album takes a sharp turn towards Mopeville, as if Mr. Byrne had suddenly begun snorting cocaine with Robert Smith of The Cure. 'Taint bad mope, though. I, for one, dig the stuff. It's every whit as hypnotic as Eno's Another Green World was, and Fear Of Music should have been. But I should warn you - you CANNOT just stick your little stereo needle at the beginning of every song, say "nah, don't like that one," and move on to the next track; if you do, you'll end up thinking that "Once In A Lifetime" and "Crosseyed And Painless" are the only good numbers on the LP. But this just isn't true!!!! It's just that all the other tracks require your attention for a few minutes so the hypnotic effect can grab ahold o' ye ankles. You just have to give 'em a chance. They work. They're deceivably simple little tunes with all sorts of neat musical things going on just underneath the surface. So dance your way through the first four, tie yourself the perfect noose during the next three, and let it all hang out during the deathly somber (and only mildly overdramatic) final track, "The Overload" (which it basically is, quite frankly). Some folks swear by this album, and I'm proud to say that, this time, I'm one of 'em.

Reader Comments (Brian Leonard)
This was the best album of 1980...and nothing else came along the whole decade that was any better. Album of the Decade, say I. (Mark Cybulski)
Definitely of the top 10 albums of the decade, I'd say. Maybe top 5. But everyone knows the best album of the 80's is XTC's Skylarking. (Dean Reis)
I agree on the 10 -- even the mopey songs after "Once In A Lifetime" are great, especially "Houses In Motion," and the first four songs, especially the opening track, are phenomenal! And of course, you've gotta love that David Byrne art nerd-rap at the end of "Crosseyed And Painless." (Ben Greenstein)
Hard to argue with you here, although my best friend hates it. He prefers Naked. The fool! Anyway, "Crosseyed And Painless" is perhaps my favourite song ever - the problem is, "Once In A Lifetime" is every bit as good, so I'm forced to call a tie.

Just a week ago, I noticed a little keyboard part in the second verse to "Lifetime" that I could swear wasn't there before. That's what makes these songs so great - you can keep coming back and finding new things to like. I didn't like "Houses" at first, but one time I was on a train and couldn't get it out of my head, so I love it now. If only I could get Devo stuck in my head on a train, maybe I wouldn't hate them so much.

Some of my favourite songs are those near the end that no one mentioned. "Seen And Not Seen" is even better than that really cool spoken word sunscreen song, and "Listening Wind" is the most melodic song on the album.
Best album of the 80's? Got that right. "Born Under Punches" is just so cool and hypnotic (especially that drum part--Christ Frantz is a GOD) it should have been a #1 hit all across the world.

"Crosseyed and Painless" has got that hilarious white boy rap by Byrne, and "The Great Curve" ... well, the guitar parts rule, and that lyric "The world moves on a woman's hips,"--woo wee! You could write an entire essay on that one line!--but that annoying chorus just won't go away. "Once In A Lifetime" is an instant classic, "Houses In Motion" a wonderful, minimal, underrated masterpiece. "Seen and Not Seen?" God darn, that's gotta be one of the five creepiest songs in history! "Listening Wind" is another overlooked gem (especially that "wind in my heart" middle eight) and "The Overload" just flat out sucks, is too depressing and should have never been put on the album (they shoulda just replaced it with something from My Life In the Bush of Ghosts, which I believe Byrne and Eno were working on at the time).

Better than Fear of Music? HELL NO! Better than any other Heads album? You betcha! (Michael Haag)
Hate to inject a negative note into the lovefest for this record, but Talking Heads were my favorite group until this record came out. Man was I disappointed. Instead of following up on the demented pop genius of 'Animals' and "Air', they followed the path blazed by the forgettable "I Zimbra". Just as the Doors lost their true essence when they tried to become a blues band, Talking Heads lost theirs in the pursuit of world music. They had a great thing going for three records, some of the most off-beat , demented, interesting pop songs ever made. I found this record to be BORING.
Remain in Light is good, very good. Funky, intelligent spasms of organized sound. Once in a lifetime is way overrated, it's just the single folks! Poetic, very well structured lyrics- warm objectivism. The one member equally important the sound is, none seems to think about it, Mrs. Weymouth! Her bass parts are unreal, very subtle yet very powerful, with a lot of space between the notes.
An excellent piece of auditory stimulation. One of the remnants of the eighties that a post rave scene degenerate like myself can enjoy. There is a reference to "Crosseyed and Painless" in Bright Lights, Big City (The Hippest novel of the eighties). In pure pleasure terms the three best songs on the album are "Born Under Punches," "Once in a Lifetime," and, "Seen and Not Seen." There is much to decipher within the lines of the lyrics of this album. People have probably written dissertations for their doctorates on poetry on these lyrics. If I were to choose the best track on the album I would have to go with "Seen and not Seen." This album is a ten. It was made the year I was born.

It's not "just the single"-- it's the perfect encapsulation of all that the Heads stood for! The best repetitively-structured song ever! The basis for Weird Al's "Dog Eat Dog"! Anyway, The main thing I'm writing in about this album FOR A SECOND TIME is that I'm wondering: exactly how is this the "full-blown world beat album" that everyone claims it is? I count "The Great Curve" and maybe "Seen And Not Seen" as possible world-beat(especially the former) but the other songs to me just seem either like weird jerky guitar pop or dark dirges, quite far removed from "I Zimbra." Or am I just taking a one-dimensional view of African music? Probably. (Daniel Streb)
Amazing, essential, and other big words. The best new wave album. Worth buying just for "Once In A Lifetime". See the funny-as-hell video. 10/10. But not the album of the decade. That would be either Murmur or The Stone Roses
This album was a collective effort which is why it rocked everyone's mind, body and soul when it came out. Members of PFunk, King Crimson and even Robert Palmer appear. This album seemed so unlike any other album of the time. Although 1980 was one of those years like 1959, 1968 or 1987 when the different streams of musical consciousness seemed to meld and bring us to a higher ground: PiL's Second Edition, Clash's Sandinista, The Specials, Echo & The Bunnymen's Heaven Up Here, The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three, Joy Division, Lou's Live in Italy, U2's Boy.. people were starting to think and explore again. Instead of expecting!!.... Top Dance Album of the 80's maybe... but Top album of the 80s would have to be split between London Calling and Sign O the Times. Those albums changed the way we live. (Alex Temple)
i hate to be a pain in the ass, but i'd have to say MY favorite albums of the 80s are Thinking Plague's In This Life and Kukl's Holidays in Europe... (Jason Adams)
Worth the praise it gets from everyone. When Radiohead cites this band as an influence, it's clear they're talking about this era more than the more pop-oriented one from where they got their name. Eight great songs that complement themselves perfectly in album format.
hi folks!! This record blew my fucking mind...I'm just curious as too how many people reviewing this record are musicians or producers for that matter. I am not a " Talking Heads " fan per say, a friend recommended this record to me but, the things Adrian Belew is doing on this recording are just downright amazing. The album is formulaic ( one nation under a groove comes to seems the whole record was based off the structure of that song...Funkadelic if you're not familiar ) but I think that's the whole jist..This record was light years ahead of it's my opinion it still is. Television, Devo...great bands but they never accomplished what the Heads did with this record. This record will sound fresh 10 years from's a record you have to be ready for to fully understand. One of Eno's finest work, but without Belew this record would'nt be half as good and I'm not a Crimson fan either...I'm just stating the facts. This is a lifechanging record for musicians or producers who really want they do to be labeled art and this one is the equivalent to the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel.
Good album, but for some reason I prefer Fear of Music. The album is flawless with the exception of Seen and Not Seen, which apart from a cool rhythm (which was sampled and used well in a Spacehog song) just isn't very interesting. Otherwise, the album is a catchy and hypnotic listen. The production is great too. 9/10 (Douglas Hall)
An amazing, wonderful album, it can't be exhausted no matter how often you hear it. This is extremely intelligent dance music (usually a contradiction in terms). People will be listening to and talking about this recording for centuries.
Definate 10. Funky as hell album. I heard that these guys didnt even have songs so they decided to improvise a little bit, and it worked amazingly. "Once In A Lifetime" and "Crosseyed And Painless" are absoulte classics.
A great album, no doubt. One of the most important album ever made. "Seen And Not Seen" is the best song!

Now I have no doubt: David Byrne Is A God!!!

The talking heads is funk for someone who fears blacks (a good comparison is Elvis Presely and rock and roll who I despise but respect). The pinnacle of the talking heads power is remain in light. It is a challenging, inaccessible, influential and schizophrenic album. It is also one of the best albums ever.

For a long time, I considered stop making sense '99 to be their finest album, with true stories a close second, but I'm beginning to find RIL to be their most delectable album. I had no idea that songs like "seen and not seen" and esp. "listening wind"(what a chorus!) are so excellent.

Oh, and I REALLY enjoy Byrne's the catherine wheel and uh-oh. That NO talking, just head album is embarrassing... (S.B.)
First off, I am an Eno era Talking Heads fan.

Secondly, I am afraid that I am one of those people who just, like you said, listened to the begining of each song, and ended up only liking "Cross-eyed and Painless" and "Once in a lifetime". BUT, fortunetly, I have listened to it more, and like more. This is one of those albums that takes a while for me to like, I find. I liked Fear of Music instantly. More Songs About Buildings and Food took a bit, but nowhere near the amount of time Remain in Light took to get into.

Those critics who praise this album are right - it's gotta be one of the best and most influencial albums of the 80's, or at least the last 23 years. (Inkei Bence)
This is the most overrated album of that era, the first three Heads albums are much better. Songs are too long and boring on side A, and the other side makes me asleep. Too clever, too pretentious, this is not rock music, just pure experimentation.

First side's money, second side's counterfeit. I like the tune about suicide bombers and the one before it-- BEAUTIFUL STUFF, that. But "Houses in Motion" is just limp-wristed funk, and "Overload" should have been retitled "I Remember Nothing (Take Two)". Original, my ass. Joy Division is a better band than the Talking Heads.

On the other hand, "The Great Curve", "The Heat Goes On", and "Once in a Lifetime" are catchier than anything this band recorded before. Experimental AND accessible. Plus thick and multi-layered. Pity they had to muck it up with the wannabe goth-rock on side two. C'mon, Eno, not EVERYTHING has to have a soft second half to it.

I give it a high 8.5. Prindle, Ah think you crazy, boy, for the rating on Buildings 'N Food. That's m' favorite 'Heads album. But whatever, it's all good. Keep on typin'.

Just NEVER give yourself a superhero nickname. That's something Midwesterners who speak Russian do.

Like ME! Kak vas zovut? I'm the Noid.
I am embarrassed because I get goose bumps whenever I read the reviews of this album. I have never seen so many people drool over an album this much and I love it. I was that person that loved "Once In A Lifetime", and "Crosseyed And Painless" on first listen, actually "The Overload" too, and didn't much care for the rest. I still think "Once In A Lifetime" is the best song ever written, summing up all the mystery of life with the most beautiful music ever recorded. That said I haven't become totally enthralled by the rest like so many others, but do have to say objectively this is a masterpiece. Subjectively I like a lot of other Heads albums more. I have grown to like a lot of the other songs more so maybe one day I can gush over this album like others, but right now I will play the other Heads albums more. I wouldn't admit this publicly, but I listen to "Naked" more often. 8/10

As much as I love the first side of this album, and I do realize it was ahead of its time when it came out, I gotta give this a 6.5. Eno is clearly the mastermind here, and I kind of agree with Tina Weymouths original idea of superimposing his face on theirs (for the album cover). When I first heard this album I was more than happy to give this a 9 (since I didn't care much for the other Talking Heads albums when I first heard this), but further listenings made me realize I'm not a fan of the last three tracks (especially "The Overload", which is basically an extended "Drugs"). The first five tracks are great though and have a lot of personality. I love the big African style beats. My favorite here is "The Great Curve".

Add your thoughts?

(Ben Greenstein reviews) The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (LP) - Sire 1982
Rating = 8

An amazing live, 2-record set of the band in it’s glory days. Though it mysteriosly excludes “Once In A Lifetime” (the band’s biggest hit at that point), the rest of it is near perfect! It’s divided into two disks - one of early stuff, one of slightly later early stuff - and is packed with gems. For the rabid fan, ou’ve got non-album tracks like “A Clean Break” and “Love --> Building On Fire,” as well as a take on “Drugs” which knocks the dung clean out of the studio version. My one complaint is that “Crosseyed And Painless,” aside from the odd intro, sounds quite lackluster. And that it exists without “No Compassion.” And... screw it! I’ll lower my original nine to an eight! It’s not that good! But, still - well worth your money, though it is out of print on CD.

Reader Comments (Ryan Atkinson)
Man, this is soooo much better than Stop Making Sense.
This is the only Talking Heads album you need.
This is not the only Talking Heads album you need, because 1) It's not an album, and 2) The Heads were one of the best bands of all time and you people are just too scared to admit it, so you hide behind your wall of "They're not REAL rock, man! They're pretentious artsy dudes!" Well, PTTTTTTH, I say to all of you people. PFFFTTTTTHTHHHHHHHH.

Anyway, this is an interesting and fun live release, even though I sympathize with Ben in that there's no "Once In A Lifetime," no "Born Under Punches," no "No Compassion," what were they thinking by not playing these songs live in the vicinity of a tape recorder? But what's here is great (the versions of "The Great Curve" and "I Zimbra" on here are masterful), the energy level of the band is admirable, and it has all of these Fear Of Music tracks plastered all over it which somehow manage to be better than their respective studio versions. Where's "Animals," though?? Why don't people like that song? 9/10. (Marie Lynd)
Great LP, How come it was never released on Cd? (Thierry Mignard)
love so much this album but think that "remain in lights" is my ever best to take on an island. anyway, does anyone knows if there will be a CD release of that album one day ? thierry
This album came out on CD just recently with a bunch of added tracks (fifteen, apparently). Mr. Bunnell, you'll be happy to know that they've added all the songs you talked about with the exception of "No Compassion." Several of them are very different from the studio versions; The Big Country is sort of a rough, nasty version (not incredibly nasty, but nowhere near as light as the album version). Here's the complete track list (*Bonus material +Previously unissued). Disc 1: 1977-1979 1. New Feeling 2. A Clean Break (Let's Work) 3. Don't Worry About the Government 4. Pulled Up 5. Psycho Killer 6. Who is It? *+ 7. The Book I Read *+ 8. The Big Country *+ 9. I'm Not In Love *+ 10. The Girls Want To Be With the Girls * 11. Electricity (Drugs) * 12. Found a Job * 13. Mind *+ 14. Artists Only 15. Stay Hungry 16. Air 17. Love > Building on Fire 18. Memories (Can't Wait) 19. Heaven *+ Disc 2: 1980-1981 1. Psycho Killer *+ 2. Warning Sign *+ 3. Stay Hungry *+ 4. Cities 5. I Zimbra 6. Drugs (Electricity) 7. Once In a Lifetime *+ 8. Animals *+ 9. Houses in Motion 10. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) *+ 11. Crosseyed and Painless 12. Life During Wartime 13. Take Me To the River 14. The Great Curve

Don't have that much to say about this one. Sure this is a solid 9 or 9.5 or whatever, and the performances here are a lot better than their studio counterparts. I'm sure everybody else already thinks that. The best tracks are anything here not called "Drugs" and "Houses in Motion" (seven minutes? Come on!). I have the one disc version of this album, because I hate the idea of bonus tracks. I like how they decided to an include a new song though, "Clean Break" is a real gem (I especially like the riff on this song).

Add your thoughts?

* The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (Double-CD) - Rhino 2004 *
Rating = 10

Please note: This record review was written in September 2005, nearly nine years after the other albums discussed herein.

Like The Police, The Clash, Modern Lovers, Television, Mission of Burma and The Feelies, Talking Heads are a band that I acknowledge an affinity for without ever actually getting the urge to listen to them. "Once In A Lifetime" and "Road To Nowhere" will pop into my head every now and again, but aside from that I basically live a Byrne-free existence. Imagine then my eye-popping surprise upon listening closely to this double-live CD and realizing that the Talking Heads were one of the greatest goddamned bands of all time.

Not that True Stories was all that good. And Naked was pretty flawed. But Heil Hitler, their early stuff was so well-written, it's amazing (and embarrassing) that I was unable to see through the sketchy studio production to hear the rich, intelligent songcraft underneath. Heil Hitler!

Say - you know how sometimes when you're heiling Hitler, you feel a little pinching sort of in the arch of your shoulder? I had mine checked out at the hospital. For only $400, I found out I've got a pinched shoulder arch! Oy! You can't win!

Okay, so I'm heiling Hitler the other day and suddenly I get this feeling that I forgot to turn off the iron. I race home lickety-split and run headlong into my furious wife. "I'm sorry, honey," I apologize. "Did I leave the iron turned on?" She looks at me with disgust and snaps, "No... But you left the MAID turned on, you lousy prematurely ejaculating adulterer!" Oy! Hello, Doghouse!

Little Jeannie comes home from school one day and says to her mother, "Mommy! Today I joined the 4H Club!" Her Mommy says, "What does that stand for? 'Heil Hitler Heil Hitler'?" Little Jeannie giggles and replies, "No silly, it stands for 'Head, Heart, Hands & Health!'" And her mommy shrugs and says, "Hey, three outta four ain't bad!" Oy! Talk about a schlemiel!

These and many other fine comedy jokes can be found in my upcoming Doubleday title Turning 'Oy!' to 'Oi!': Helpful Hints for Borscht Belt Comedians Who Accidentally Get Booked for Nazi Skinhead Functions. Buy it by name!

But enough laughter and happiness. We're here to review one halibut ('hell of a,' roughly) live double-CD that follows The Talking Heads from their early days as World's Greatest Stereo Clean Guitar Interplay Band through their middle-era heyday as Society's Funkiest Africa-Style Nerd Art People Group. Let me begin by saying that the sound quality is astonishing. There is NO WAY these recordings could actually be from live performances. They sound dryer, cleaner and clearer than the studio versions! This is especially true for the More Songs About Buildings And Food and Fear Of Music tracks, which against all odds turn out to be full of gorgeous guitar harmonics, wonderful anthemic choruses, call-response playing, poppy slide guitarwork and all kinds of other brilliant and ear-friendly ingredients that had been buried under the new wave trappings and Eno mood ambiance of the studio releases. Shame on you Brian Eno and whoever produced More Songs About Buildings And Food - you took exciting creative songs and turned them flaccid! And thank you very much to whoever compiled this extended extra-long double-CD version of The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (so-named due to Byrne's early habit of introducing every track with "The name of this song is..."), for it has given me a new understanding of the band's core strengths and individual purpose. I mean, you're already 13 songs in before you hit one that's even CLOSE to not great! The interlocking instrumental interplay, the odd twists of melody, the crisp dancey drums and bouncy bass, the paranoid vocals/lyrics -- unbeatable!

Any complaints I might make are trivial, the main one being that I don't see the need to include two different versions of "Psycho Killer" (one is mostly acoustic, the other electric - yet they sound remarkably similar), "Drugs/Electricity" (one features a gorgeous stereo call-response guitar swoop-up line; the other is much less interesting), and "Stay Hungry" (great chuggling drum/bass bit, but the droney one-chord runs and cheesy Kansas-style organ solos are a drag). Also, I could see one arguing that a couple of the Remain In Light songs seem a bit less interesting without the countless percussion/rhythm instrument overdubs that make the studio versions so excitingly dynamic. But overall, this is definitely the CD to purchase if you're wondering whether the Talking Heads deserved all the hype that they continue to receive to this day. Not only does it rule ass from head to toe, but with a set list that includes 6 '77, 8 More Songs, 9 Fear Of and 5 Remain In tracks (as well as two rarities), it nearly renders purchase of the first four albums unnecessary! The first disc will ruin Television and Sonic Youth for you 4ever, and the second will make you go, "Good gravy, they're makin' my bottom dance!" Hits performed wonderfully include "Once In A Lifetime" ("And you may tell yourself, 'This is not my beautiful house!' And you may tell yourself, 'This is not my beautiful wife!'"); "Life During Wartime" ("This ain't no party! This ain't no disco! This ain't no foolin' around!"); and "Take Me To The River" ("I'm Big Mouth Billy Bass! I don't care if your wife's asleep; get your dick out of my mouth!").

Ah yes, profane Big Mouth Billy Bass humor. I truly am "keeping up with the times."

Reader Comments
Isn't it hilarious how it opens with: "The name of this song is 'New Feeling,' and that's what it's about"? HAHAHA. SO FUCKING WEIRD! (I agree, this is probably the best of the band.)
" and whoever produced More Songs About Buildings And Food"

Eno produced that album too.

I haven't heard this yet, which makes no sense considering Talking Heads are one of my favorite bands.

Add your thoughts?

Speaking In Tongues - Sire 1983.
Rating = 8

Eno's gone and taken his depressing new age with him, leaving the T. Heds with one heck of a kickass jungle disco album. If you know "Burning Down The House," you've got a good sense for what the whole record sounds like. The tracks are still kinda minor-chordy and not happy-crappy, but the dancey-wancey backbeats will get your funk out for a clear forty-five. Have you heard "Girlfriend Is Better?" It might be my second or third favorite Talkers track, so maybe you just should hear it. The only little two-point problem with this record is that, compared with the best songs on the album, the mediocre ones seem awfully unnecessary. You probably won't even notice that "Slippery People" and "I Get Wild" even exist. And if you do, dammit, claim 'em for England. Hardly anybody swears by this album, so I'll swear at it, for old times' sake. Fuck you, album!

Reader Comments (Heath Barrett)
Yeh, this album sucked it down big time, but when they based stop making sense on it.... Well lets just say I like stop making sense a bit... (Mark Cybulski)
Lacks the creativity of the last two. It's as if they toned it down to make it more accessible. Still a good album, but "Girlfriend Is Better", "Slippery People" and "Making Flippy Floppy" sound lame compared to their versions on Stop Making Sense. "This Must Be The Place" boosts it up from a 7 to an 8.
Kind of like Fear Of Music in regard to its minimalism, except a lot poppier, and more danceable as opposed to paranoid and scary. "Burning Down The House" will forever be a classic, and I also heavily enjoy "Making Flippy Floppy" and "Swamp." I'd like "Girlfriend Is Better" a lot more, though, if it weren't so slow, unlike the sped-up, rocking Stop Making Sense version. It embodies the album's main problem - the production is absolutely thin and horrid. Pretty much all of the songs are really great, though. "Pull Up The Roots" is one of the great forgotten Heads classics. 8/10 (Mark Renner)
I really really disagree... True, when I first got this album I didn't like it very much. I heard rather unappealing lyrics, sparse music, etc... but this thing really grew on me... I like/love just about all of the songs on the album... but contrary to your opinion, 'Girlfriend is Better' and 'This must be the place' are the only ones that don't play through my head in the course of a day. "I Get Wild/Wild Gravity" is one of my favorites on the album... in it, Byrne talks about how one of the most pervasive... institutions (for lack of a better word), gravity, loses it's power... leaving everyone floating helplessly in midair. Or, at least that's what I got from it. Oddly, I like Slippery People mainly for the gospelish call/response chorus, even though I typically hate gospel. My favorite lyric from this song has to be "God help us, help us lose our minds". I guess the song's gospel for those without something as reassuring as God to lean on... (yay, I luv "postmodern" sentiments) Swamp is a good song as well, done again in the preacher type character... I just enjoy that one at a purely gut level. Sue me. Oh, but one of my favorite lyrics of all time comes from this song, "Everyone wants to Explooooode!!" Cheers. (Brian Babineau)
"this must be the place" is it. that's all you need to know. the lyrics, the stupid keyboard bassline, all of it. makes me feel melancholia in a ten years ago sort of way. (Ben Greenstein)
I claim "Slippery People" and "I Get Wild" in the name of England. I love both of those! In fact, a friend of mine who's not very familiar with the band recognized "Slippery" from my CD, so I assume it's pretty well known. Also, it's on that one CD import Best Of collection, so I guess it was a hit.

Wait, I've got more comments on this album!

It only gets an eight, because the production is incredibly flat-sounding, as opposed to "Remain In Light," where everything was this very dense soundscape. It took me a long time to get used to "Flippy Floppy," and "Moon Rocks" still sucks. However, the rest of the songs consist of the Heads best, most memorable, and catchiest material.

"Swamp" is demented blues, and is very catchy. Not as catchy as "Burning Down The House," one of the band's biggest hits and one of the most embarrassing pieces I've ever sang at Karaoke. "This Must Be The Place" is just beautiful - one of my favourites. I've also heard it on the radio at least once or twice. "Girlfriend Is Better is one of the best dance tunes ever - I play it at every party I throw. Then my lame friends make me turn it off. Screw 'em, I love it.
What do I know?!? Beautiful, climbing up the wall. I feel nice when I start to sing. Lyrically, as brilliant as a Warhol painting. ( Is that a compliment?) Musically, as infectious as a car's windshield wipers. So listen to this one driving in the rain, or riding the subway (after all, most subways've got rhythm!) Why dance when you can kind of move? A beautiful album to do nothing to, with a beat. I'd give it at least a 9. Plus, another 9 for This Must Be the Place.
I think your all right, this could of been talking heads lousiest albume ever but it wouldnt matter because "this must be the place is on it". How come that wasnt on Vh1's top 100 songs? (David D.)
most versions on here are more aptly played on 'stop making sense'. still, the lyrics are awesome (Jason Adams)
If David Byrne joined Tom Tom Club, they'd make albums like this forever. This is the only non-Eno album where Byrne shares full writing credit with the rest of the band, and the songs are loose and funky as a result. Sunnier, though. Weaker too. "Moon Rocks" and "I Get Wild" are essentially pointless. Good album overall, though.
I heard this one after seeing Stop Making Sense, which kind of forces me to have a biased opinion on this album. Most of these songs were done MUCH better live. In comparison, these songs sound so dry and lifeless on here. I really like some of the over-looked stuff on here though. Pull Up The Roots and I Get Wild/Wild Gravity are just as good as Burning Down The House and my opinion. I never quite understood how Swamp made it on Sand In The Vaseline. I think it's one of the least interesting tracks on the album. Oh, and This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) is one of my favorite Talking Heads songs. Sweet, melodic, charming, and definitely naive. 8/10
Thank you, everybody for comments on This must be the place. I never knew anyone who knew and appreciated that song separate from my introducing it to them

This sounds like "Remain in Light" part 2, except it's better. We don't have to sit through "The Overload" and that kind of stuff now that Eno is out of the picture. Instead, we get to sit through some pretty top rate stuff like "Burning Down the House" and "I Get Wild/Wild Gravity". Sure, this isn't on the same level as the first three albums, mainly because this albums production is quite messy and there's still some self indulgent crap like "Swamp" and to a lesser extent "Moon Rocks". All those complaints aside, I grew to really like this album. I'll give it a 7.5 or 8.

Add your thoughts?

Stop Making Sense - Sire 1984.
Rating = 8

A soundtrack to a concert movie, this is not as exciting as you might hope, but as far as a compilation goes, it's allllllll right. Got lots of your most popular tunes here ("Burning Down McCauley Culkin's Parents' House", "Girlfriend Is A Sweater", "Take Me To The Podiatrist," "Psycho II: The Superior Sequel," "Once In A Life (During War) Time"), all in great performancees except "Take Me To Your Liver," which is a lot straighter and less quirky than the originally covered original. It's certainly not an essential addition to anybody's collection (although one of the tunes, "What A Day That Was," is, I think, unavailable elsewhere), but if you see it really, really, really, really cheap and/or if you've never heard a Talking Heads album before, go ahead and check a tout!
Reader Comments (Ben Greenstein)
The best live concert ever recorded! All of the songs sound so smooth and lively, as opposed to the records, which sound flat (especially Speaking In Tongues). One thing - check out the video! It has more songs, including a much better version of "Making Flippy Floppy", as well as a kickass "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" and a rockin' "Cities." Plus, a really awful song by the Tom Tom Club, a side project formed by Chris and Tina. Just goes to show how much of a genius David Byrne is - without him, the rest of the band suck donkeys. Multiple donkeys!
Good golly! Anyone gotten a chance to check out the brand-monkey-spankin' new edition of this album? My only complaint about the album was always that it was way too short. Ah, but the new edition totally cures all of that. All but a few songs from the movie have been included. But, why did one of the ones they left out have to be Cities??? Why, God, why???!!! Couldn't they have sacrificed Genius of Love to fit it in? The others that were excluded are I Zimbra and Big Business. One cool thing is that they included the version of Psycho Killer with the original drum beats. Unfortunately, they tossed in the exact same booklet as the last edition. The whole album is good, but I never really liked Take Me To The River that much. I just don't see the big attraction. The album ends with an energetic version of Cross-eyed And Painless, which ends the album with an entirely different feel than the original album that ends with Take Me To The River. Buy it even if you own the original. It's worth it, and it totally beats the hell out of my home-made audio tape that I made from the video a few years ago. I hope that the video re-release will get me excited enough to buy it again. My old video is kind of blurry anyway.
A pretty under-rated live album, even though as a stand-alone disc its value is pretty low, especially considering that just recently a new version compiling basically all of the songs from the actual concert movie for the film's 15th anniversary has been released. In fact, if that album were not out, this version would get a 9, but it gets a low 8 because as it is, it only contains a short list of the expected songs (four from the currently-promoted album, the big tune from each of the four previous albums, and one unexpected tune in Byrne's "What A Day That Was"). But the reason I think it's under-rated is because the versions of these songs are so freakin' awesome! "Girlfriend Is Better" and "Burning Down The House" are full of the energy which they lacked on the album, "Psycho Killer" is no longer a great jerky rant but a great world-beat-ish rant, and generally all of the songs are improved. Except "Once In A Lifetime," but that's because that song was already perfect to begin with. If I get a copy of the new release of this, I'll send in my thoughts on that one! (Matthew Snyder)
Hey man, the reissue of the Stop Making Sense soundtrack simply KILLS! Twice as many toons, including raging tracks not included on the original like Making Flippy Floppy, Found A Job and Crosseyed and Painless. This set is also notable for the funky, spaced out keyboard contributions of P-Funk maestro Bernie Worrell. It all sounds like it was recorded the other day, for both musical and technical reasons. Get it and groove your butt!!
Lawd, Lawd, My, My. I must add my voice to the chorus of praise for the new, expanded, remastered, caffeine-free CD version of this former LP. Even if they hadn't added any new songs, the improvement in sound alone would have been worth the upgrade. But that's not all, oh no, because the good folks at Warner Bros. also saw it fit to finally release the 'lost' songs from the movie version, in their original running order. God Love those record company execs with their pointy heads and Gucci footwear! God Love each and every one of them! Except for whoever it was who decided that the bonus tracks ("I Zimbra" and "Cities/Big Business") should only be released on a special CD single, which I can't find anywhere, for any price. Still, that's just pick-nitting. The old version was overrated at 8, but this new version is a definite Prindle 9. It's got "Heaven"! It's got "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel!" It's even got "Genius of Love"! Oh wait, that's not really such a great thing...
I loved this band right up to Stop Making Sense. Hell, I even lost my virginity in the back of the theatre at the movie.

But, everything after that album is just dull, dull, dull! No energy, no funk, no art, no hooks.

Little Creatures, True Stories, and Naked all sound like a band running on empty. Just going through the motions on auto-pilot. It’s like they completely forget where they came from, or what made them unique to begin with.

This problem has also plagued every David Byrne solo record as well. (Josh Cable)
I think there can be no denying that this band is good and so is this album. I've never even seen the movie and I have nothing else of theirs. Anyway, it's really good. For a person that has nothing else from the Heads and no money, this is really perfect.

As a kind of side note, What a Day That Was is really wonderful, and I have it on cd now. Not gay pirate mp3, actual hard data, so I don't have to delete the album to save space on my hard drive. Also, the idea of adding all the instruments as the set progresses is fun, even tho it ruins Psycho Killer.

Now all it needs is someone in a cartoonishly oversized suit dancing around and sweating. (Jerry Davis)
“Stop making sense” is by far the best recorded concert in the history of recorded concerts, Dave Byrne is a genius to come up with an idea and such enthusiastic dancing and music, even though they’re coked out the whole time, the jam sessions in every song and the added musical support throughout every track, is amazing, the first time I watched, I was amazed and I’ve been addicting to talking heads, stop making sense ever since I put any thought into how much work that concert was and how KICK ASS it turned out…and Tina Weymouth rocks…
The first time I ever heard the Talking Heads was on a cassette of Stop Making Sense. Their songs are extremely catchy and Byrne's crazy way of singing is addictive to listen to. The new edition of Stop Making Sense is even better, since (in my opinion) thier songs are better live and the new CD has songs I never heard live. My favorite is "Burnin' Down the House" -- alreay a great song made 10 times better heard live, it has a lot more of a bass feel. "Life During Wartime" is also much better for the same reason. Screw all those who think "Genius of Love" is bad, it's quite an achievement for a group without Byrne -- I still think it's one of the best songs on the CD. I don't hate any of the tracks on the CD, they're that good.

I can listen to that CD for hours, possibly days. By far, my favorite Talking Heads CD. My friends think Im crazy for liking such an "old" band, so I just tell them to listen to 'em, and they end up enjoying them as well. Very addictive music, you just gotta give 'em time to sink in. The Heads are much better than any of today's ''punk'' bands making teen-pop music, garbage music as far as I'm concerned. Oh if only they were still making music today...
This album gets a 10 when you realise when they were playing it, they were doing calisthenics and dancing with their instruments. The Flaming Lips new record blows and they got a computer to do everything for them whilst they sat there. (The Swill Man)
Do any of the idiots leaving comments about how great it is realize that the band overdubbed the live recordings like crazy in a bunch of different studios? Like how they completely replaced the drums with a different drum track?

I never saw the movie this album is based off of, so there for I was a little put off by the whole tape recorder thing at the start of "Psycho Killer". This is a good rendition, but unlike the previous live album, these performances are not as good as their studio versions. Though I didn't have much of any problems with the track listing from Name of This Band, I was disappointed to have to sit through "Swamp" and "Slippery People" again. Since this album is from the Speaking in Tongues tour, you'd figure they would pick better songs to represent it (other than of "Burning Down the House" of course). Otherwise, I like this album a lot (I'll give it an 8) and thought it was nice of them to include another song not found on their studio releases.

Add your thoughts?

Little Creatures - Sire 1985.
Rating = 8

A generic pop album, quite the bizarre concept for a band so generally interested in baffling and impressing us (or at least trying to). Guess they just wanted to give the real world a try, which is fine 'cuz they do a pretty darn good job with it. This one probably garnered more hits for the band than any other record ("And She Was," "Stay Up Late," and "Road To Nowhere"), and perchance that was the point. Most of 'em sure seem like they're directed solely toward Mr. Average Consumer - straight 4/4 beats, pretty little keyboard lines, predictable but catchy hooks, and not a thing that takes more than two listens to sink in. Simple pop music, guy. Catchy, though! And "Give Me Back My Name" is certainly weird enough to remind us of exactly what band we're dealing with here.

Compared to previous records, these songs are initially disappointing in their obviousness, but they'll grow on you. As dumb as they are, I assure you that they'll grow on you. Like a huge blood-sucking death tick.

Reader Comments (James Vincent Debevec II)
This was the start of the downfall. 2 stars.
Little Creatures is the best Talking Heads album, no doubt. I love it.
Bouncy, poppy, and not nearly as memorable as the albums that came before it. It has tons of catchy melodies, "And She Was" and "The Lady Don't Mind" immediately come to mind, but too many of the tracks such as "Creatures Of Love" and "Give Me Back My Name" simply sound flat, like Byrne was trying to be artsy like on the old albums but poppy at the same time, which simply cannot be done. However, "Road To Nowhere" is one of my all-time favorite Heads songs. Marching anthems are a sort of music I really go for, if it's only done every once in a while. Eh, let's go with a 7/10.

(two years later)

Actually, this has become one of my favorite Heads albums. It's poppy, but the songs are lush and welcoming, and the production is lightyears ahead of Speaking In Tongues. I raise my grade to a 9! (Ben Greenstein)
Okay, so it's simple, stupid pop music, and isn't even close to the Heads that we all know and love, but if you pretend that it's by another group - one that never put out Remain In Light - then it's great! Really catchy, too.

My fave is obviously "Road To Nowhere," which manages to squeeze out a little of that good ol' Heads atmosphere while still being accessible and simple. I also really like "Television Man" and the spooky "The Lady Don't Mind." The hits are fine - "Stay Up Late" and "And She Was" are welcome on my radio station any time.

Also, I don't get how this stuff is in any way more simplistic than that early stuff. If you put it down for anything, put it down for being too mainstream (which it's not really - just poppy). I mean - those songs on Remain In Light - despite seeming really complex - they're only one chord! So, by defenition, this stuff is far more complex than that!

So this album gets an eight. Maybe a nine if done by another band. Any questions?
Structurally and melodically, perhaps songs on this album are more conventional. But mainstream? Sold out? Shirly Temple voices in a non-sensical chant, gospel choirs through a synth, flying ladies and playing with babies. This is the most subversive album they have: standard structure sandwiched between odd messages and odd presentation. "Give Me Back My Name" is a sad, bitter song so much more than most melodrama. (Jason Adams)
There's something to be said for simplicity. Isn't one of John Lennon's best songs "Imagine"? So here Talking Heads make pop songs and it works well. Really they did this before on their debut, only it wasn't as self-conscious. Nine happy, fun songs.
Because of the 'sell out-iness' of the album I didn't really have high hopes for this one, but it caught me by surprise. I'd already heard all the hits, but Give Me Back My Name, The Lady Don't Mind, and Television man rank up there with their best. All the hits are great too. This album proved that the band could even make a great mainstream album. 8/10 (Norman McPherson)
I think that the Heads hit the pinnacle with "Little Creatures" [even though "True Stories" was pretty good] before they hit the skids with "Naked". "Little Creatures" turned me onto the Heads after I heard the music at a neighbors' apartment back in the Eighties when I used to party. Now I'm married to a Christian and I can't do anything anymore unless I slip around veeeeeeeeeeery carefully and do it. Wholeheartedly recommended by me for anyone who likes quirky and funny stuff. A ten
a more feminine sound that just doesn't appeal to males, but possibly querky enough for females.

Ummm wow, where'd this come from? I guess all that success must have got to Talking Heads' Heads, because here they decide to ditch all those African beats and non sense lyrics that were omnipresent on the last two albums and make an album that features pretty straightforward lyrics and has a much more Billboard-happy sound. Being a sucker for this kind of stuff that I am, of course I like it better than those albums (just like how I prefer The Black Album over And Justice for All or Give 'em Enough Rope over the first Clash album). Shit, I'll take my two favorites here, "Perfect World" and "And She Was" over anything off of Remain in Light (not counting the version of "The Great Curve" on Name of This Band) anyday. This album is really even, so It's pretty worthless giving a track by track analyses. All I really have left to say is "Television Man" is probably the gem from this album (and should have been released as a single), and the only two I'm not so crazy about are "Give Me Back My Name" (though I like that title) and "Creatures of Love".

Add your thoughts?

True Stories - Sire 1986.
Rating = 6

Not for me. It's the "poppy" thing again, but with not nearly the same calibre of hookage, in what is of course my own and nobody else's opinion. "Wild Wild Life" is a terrific song, and there are a couple right near the end ("Dream Operator" and "City Of Dreams") that are downright beautiful, but there are others (and too many others!) that just don't do a darn thing. I want poppy, I toss on some McCartney!!!! What is this - Little Creatures outtakes or some crap?
Reader Comments (Brian Leonard)
True Stories is NOT just Little Creatures outtakes! I think it's their second- or third-best record. And the movie is funnn-eeee! (but you don't want to confuse the SOUNDTRACK with the TALKING HEADS album. Same title, radically different records.) (Mark Cybulski)
True Stories is by far the worst Talking Heads album. I don't think I've listened to it since I bought it in 1986.
What a load of crap. I got this one for fairly cheap, but I never feel inclined to put it on because almost every song sounds like they stuck to the Little Creatures style without producing the songs well or coming up with any good melodies. Even "Wild Wild Life" has never really been a favorite of mine - the chorus is kind of catchy, but the song is really nothing special compared to other classics by the band. The only thing that comes off as kinda listenable to me is "Love For Sale," but even that one has kind of a weak chorus. 4/10 (Dan Streb)
Listen, this is really true and I'm not making this up. One of the songs on Talking Heads' True Stories album is called "Radio Head". DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW COOL THAT IS?????? It sucks, though as does the rest of the album. Get Remain In Light first. Still that is so cool I don't know what to say.
Talking Heads are artists transplanted from the tangible to the audible. This is a fine piece of art if not music. This album has catchy tunes and is a piece of art in itself in that it is an experiment in artistic commercialism from artists who have always deviated from the mainstream. Love For Sale and Wild, Wild Life are great pop songs. In those tracks the talking heads were experimenting in something that was alien to them; commercialism. They have every right to. For a group of artists that have made the abstract their mainstay; commercial pop becomes a brave new abstract in their musical portfolio. Besides, the brave new pop, there are plenty of musical adventures on the album. The sounds are eclectic of the American musical landscape. I give this album a 10. You just have to see it from the perspective I have purveyed in order to feel me.
I thought the movie was great as well as the songs on the record. I think David Byrne has chosen a great selection of songs. It's my favorite album. the only thing I would change is to have the songs played by the actual charactars in the film. (Jason Adams)
Hate to pick on an album when it's down, but half these songs just blow. "Love For Sale" is obnoxious, "Puzzling Evidence" should have been a much better gospel tune, I hate "Hey Now" because I hate children, and the late Pops Staples is the only one who has any business singing "Papa Legba". Okay? Side Two is better, though. "Wild Wild Life" is one of their best songs ever, "Radio Head" is infectious enough, "Dream Operator" is lovely, "People Like Us" is a great self-aware country tune, and "City Of Dreams" is a gem. I even like the remix.
Hey, if you don't crack up everytime you hear one of these songs... you haven't seen the movie. I found the movie in a bin for $2.99. It's the greatest. If the room is pink, YOU'RE in the pink....
Yeah, it's their weakest album, but it's still not bad. Many bands would probably kill to be able to say this is their worst album. Most of side one is pretty weak. Puzzlin' Evidence, Papa Legba, and Hey Now don't do too much for me. However, for some reason, I didn't really like Love For Sale until I heard it on here (as opposed to Sand In The Vaseline). Side two gets pretty good too. I don't care a whole lot for Radio Head, but Wild Wild Life is cool. People Like Us, Dream Operator, and City Of Dreams are beautiful. This album is probably appreciated best after watching the film True Stories. John Goodman's version of People Like Us is just as good as the album version! Like I said, this is absolutely not a bad album. It's just pretty pale in relativity to the other Heads albums. I'll give it a 7/10.
True. Not quite as good as Fear, 77 or Remain but it's not a bag of shite by a long way. Fabulous cover. And Radiohead happens to be one of their nicest songs.

Lets not forget, the worst Talking Heads records are by and large far superior to any current shit. I mean Dido is on TV right now. Really annoying voice. No tunes. No talent. Stupid pretentious bitch.
I don't understand why making "poppy" music is ever a bad thing. Perhaps music is only really considered "good" if it's not playing on MTV right now and is still considered to have only a niche following.

This is an excellent album. "Love For Sale" is one hell of a hard rock groove with a bit of funk for good measure. "Puzzlin' Evidence" is a decent hard rock groove with a bit gospel to give the song it's hook. "Hey Now" is just a simple, mid-tempo pop song with a sing-along chorus. "Papa Legba" is an interesting piece of filler. "Wild Wild Life" is one of the best songs this band ever did. You've already heard it on your radio. "Radio Head" is something you haven't heard, but should have. Joyful synth-pop with an excellent chorus. "Dream Operator" is an anxious somber passage when compared to rest of the album's irreverence with piano arpeggio to boot. "People Like Us" is a country tinged catchy pop song. "City Of Dreams" is the least interesting passage the album has to offer, but a semi-sentimental med-tempo pop song is really nothing to balk at.

Every single song is catchy. Every single song is interesting. Certainly, other Talking Head albums leave something to be desired of this one as far as ambition goes. But this is not a comparison of albums, this is an album review of an album being judged on it's own merits.

This is what I figured talking heads would sound like by now, and this album didn't really surprise me like all the other heads albums managed to do. This album isn't really that interesting, and it's pretty clear the band is running out of ideas. Even I know the heads know better than to release songs like "Papa Legpa" and "People Like Us", but that's their problem. This being a heads album, there's still some unbelievably great material: "Wild Wild Life" is the classic from this album, right up there with songs like "Take Me to the River" and "Memories Can't Wait". The first two songs are great too, and "City of Dreams" is like a pleasant reminder to "The Big Country". They probly should have waited a couple of years to release this album, cuz by then they would have come up with better songs to replace some of the filler here. I'll give this a 6.5.

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Naked - Sire 1988.
Rating = 6

Now then, Naked is interesting only in that it is a desperate attempt to regain the tribal dance feel of old while clinging pathetically to the slick pop sound that made them huge stars about three years earlier. Problem being - most of the tracks just aren't very interesting, and the ones that are sound overproduced and fake. None of 'em are rotten, but only a few of 'em really do anything! The hit "(Nothing But) Flowers" is one of their best ever, a hilarious city dweller's confused diatribe about trying to deal with a world overrun by vegetation, but most of the others kinda poke along like the weakest tracks from Little Creatures and Speaking In Tongues. It's sorta like listening to a late-period Peter Gabriel album - you know that they really think that they're creating some sort of brilliant world beat art, but it's really just worthless pop music. Oh well. It sure ain't ugly like some of the stuff on Heads albums #s 2 and 3; it's just not a real vibrant, action-packed listen. Plus there's this dumbass monkey on the cover, and monkeys can suck my ass it smells.

Okay, so I guess David Byrne has put out a lot of solo albums, some other members were in the Tom Tom Club, and now the three non-Byrnes have reformed under the name The Heads, much to Dave's chagrin. He claims that their reportedly-crappy new album, No Talking, Just Head will tarnish the sterling reputation of the Talking Heads, suggesting, I suppose, that he never bothered to listen to the last couple of Talking Heads albums. You?

Reader Comments (James Butler)
nobody seems to want to comment on this one - I'm not sure why.It could be because this album was obviously inspired by African music (a lot of the lyrics were written to fit the music). This album is more than worthy of some praise because the songs "flowers", "blind", "totally nude", "ruby" & the completely weird but brilliant "cool water" are all pieces of music that given sufficient time sound brilliant. I can understand why a lot of T .Heads fans & people who enjoy guitar based rock music (you know, the type that your web site is almost excessively devoted to) wouldn't like this, although i can't understand what you mean when you call the music fake, it could have only been written by D Byrne - so how is it fake? This album heralded D Byrne's split from the band to pursue an extremely fruitful solo career (I think). Not all the songs hit the spot though, still, I'd give it 8/10. (Michael Barratt)
The talking heads were a great band. Piss on anyone who say's otherwise!! I was more upset when rumors of the heads getting back together was false then when i heard that there may be a chance of the beatles to reunite before john was killed. I've been to many concerts in my life time and rarely have i seen the crowds dancing in the isles other then the talking heads.. this has got to say something about there music!! TH fan forever!!! (Ben Greenstein)
More like a five. "Mr. Jones," "(Nothing But) Flowers," "Blind," and "Cool Water" are all mind-blowingly superb, but the rest is far less interesting than a late period Peter Gabriel album - Pete actually kept his talent! A five.

Oh, and for some reason, "Blind" is on the import version of the Sand In The Vaseline compilation. The only possible excuse for this is that the record companies find it awfully amusing to sell people "best of" collections which contain non-hits instead of classics like "Crosseyed And Painless" or "Swamp." (Maureen Sharples)
Having squinted at most of your comments. I find most/all of them completely clueless "American" cliche fodder. Do any of you know and understand the history of music/pop art, and exactly what Talking Heads were about/did to the whole avenue of sound and pop culture in a time that was so,so humdrum, compact and utterly useless (the 80s that is)? How many sincere and worthy musical movements truelly came close to matching the art - and to the levels of experimentation - yet still keeping it completely and consistantly listenable and interesting, as Talking Heads?
I'm not too familiar with this one, so my opinion could very well change. Lots of people slam this album, yet I see dotted little opinions all over the place calling this a "return to form" for the Heads and a "great swan song." So maybe I'd like it later, but for now this album is BORING. The Heads remembered that they used to be supposedly a world-beat band and decided to pull off a whole album of it, but the songs all sound the same and are BORING. The three singles "Blind," "Mr. Jones" and "(Nothing But) Flowers" are reasonably catchy songs, but I don't really even like that last one very much. Everyone goes on about how it's one of the best Heads songs ever, but despite a bit of catchiness and great lyrics it just sounds like generic tropical music to me. Sorry.

Why the Heads didn't just put "Lifetime Piling Up" on the album is beyond's possibly their best single ever! I don't CARE if it wouldn't have fit on the album, they could've put it at the end! I love Talking Heads, and I'm willing to respect any band who put out six magnificent albums IN A ROW along with one amazing live movie, but to say that they lost it after Little Creatures is an understatement.
As my e-mail title suggests, I am, or would like to consider myself, a "David Byrne Clone". I do agree that Eno's introduction into TH accelerated their musical evolution dramatically, accentuating the "funk thing", but TH have never put out an album that I didn't enjoy listening to repeatedly. (Jason Adams)
Am I the only one who really likes "Mommy, Daddy, You, and I"? It's a beautifully detailed story of a child immigrant's apprehension that strikes me as truly heartfelt and pretty. I love Johnny Marr's guitar playing on "The Democratic Circus". I like most of this album, to tell you the truth. My only gripe is with the ugly "The Facts Of Life", the uglier "Ruby Dear", and the ugliest "Big Daddy". Why were those songs released? They are abysmal!
I'm alone on this one, but I like this album quite a bit. With their pop stuff kind of drying out on the last album, I think it's a good thing that Byrne had the "ego trip" and put together an African-based album. Blind, Mr. Jones, and Totally Nude are among the band's most under-rated songs. Also, David's vocals seem especially pleasant on this album. I'm one of the ones that thinks this album is a great swan song for the band. True Stories was dull, so I'm glad they managed to sqeeze in one last great album before they broke up. 9/10
I have loved everything this band has done so maybe I am too much of a fan to give an objective opinion on this album, but I can recognize, "True Stories" as half baked, so maybe I am not too jaded to praise this spectacular album. To me "Democratic Circus", "The Facts Of Life", "Cool Water", "Big Daddy", and "Ruby Dear", are flat out brilliant. I love these songs. Even "Mommy, Daddy You And I", "Ben", "Nothing(But Flowers)", "Mr. Jones", and "Blind", are a lot of fun and you don't have to put on any clothes to listen to the rest. A highlight in a career of highlights.
where's the tom tom club? you missed these guys! genius of love is a great new wave song! it is sampled by 2pac, and sweet sexy mariah carey!! yep! tina and chris formed the tom tom club while david was going to africa. have you heard of another odd band, deeeeeeeeeeeee lite! groove is in the heart! 1990! lady miss kier looks like space channel 5 ulala from the sega dreamcast! yum! oh yeah! you forgot I just said did anyone watched the XFL!? man! you guys are not football lovers come on! remember the whole he hate me gag?! ooooooo paris hilton is skanky! guys, listen to me! you must see the new whorish video from jessica simpson! start your boners! sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!! jessica dripping wet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh yeah since this is the 4th, have you seen the bikini boot camp! yep! sgt.slaghter and christy hemme! and 8 sexy women in the raw diva contest! hey!!! ya' buncha viginas!!! come on! celebrate!

I'm giving this one a solid 3.5. Sure the beats are okay, and David's voice sure fits the songs, but those are the only two compliments I can give this album... The band is skating on more thin ice than they were on the last album. I can't think of one song that's up to the normal heads standards. "Cool Water" is the best one here, and I guess they tried to go out with a bang by sequencing it as the last song of their last album. I guess it would be considered a "classic" or whatever if it was about two minutes shorter, and "Big Daddy" has a cool beat, but the lyrics are terrible. I wasn't expecting that much from this album, but I didn't expect it to suck this much.

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(Ben Greenstein reviews) Sand In The Vaseline (Popular Favorites) - 1990.
Rating = 9

Screw me! I never knew that life could be so good before I went out on a limb and purchased this killer compilation! This is what got me started on this band in the first place! It kicks!

It’s chock full o’ rarities, too, so the uninitiated should be in heaven as well. And some of them (the epic “Sax And Violins” comes to mind) are among the band’s best tunes ever! I really, really like the early, sloppy “I Want To Live,” as well as the final single “Lifetime Piling Up.” And “Popsicle” is quite dirty! At least - I think it is, I’ve never really been sure about what David means in any of his songs.

Problems - well, there’s only two songs from Remain In Light, which is a bit wierd. And it’s lacking the rare “A Clean Break,” as well as well known classics like “Drugs,” “Artists Only,” “Houses In Motion,” and “Slippery People.” But it’s got all of the radio hits, as well as a heap of songs that you need to own. Consider it a sampler - not the definetive collection, but good for those who are just starting out.

Reader Comments
This is a great compilation, and if the band didn't have such good albums otherwise, I'd give it a 10. As it is it's a 9. They pretty much hit on everything, though I agree the song selection is a teensy bit weird (where's "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel"? And why the hell does no one but me consider "Television Man" a classic?). The best part is that they include the full, breathing Stop Making Sense versions of "Girlfriend Is Better" and "Life During Wartime" instead of the original versions, which always sounded a bit too tinny and underproduced to my ears (especially the former). The unreleased material is all great-- I am still perplexed as to why "Lifetime Piling Up" wasn't released when it was recorded. It has to be their best song ever! Except for "Once In A Lifetime"(what's with these guys and lifetimes?), of course. The only careless song selection is "City Of Dreams" from the universally-lame True Stories, and I still don't care too much for almost any of the material from Naked. Still, this is one of the most well-chosen compilations I've ever heard. (Tim Eimiller)
Hey, I think "Television Man" is a classic, too! In fact (after the jaw-droppingly fabulous "Once In A Lifetime"), I think it's the Talking Heads' greatest moment on record.
Please, PLEASE! People, OK for the last time (I don't give a fuck that they played at CBGB's) The Talking Heads were not and will never be PUNK ROCK. no, no, NO! Just stop saying that, Thanks, I'm better now.

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