Category: Talking Heads

Talking Heads – The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads

ARTIST: Talking Heads

TITLE: The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads



SINGLES: Life During Wartime

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Psycho Killer, Memories Can’t Wait, Once in a Lifetime, and basically all of the best tracks from their first four records.

LINEUP: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth. On the second disc (side 3 and 4, or the back half of the stream) Adrian Belew, Busta “Cherry” Jones, Steve Scales, Bernie Worrell, and Dolette McDonald joined the tour. Nona Hendryx sings on a couple tracks as well from their Central Park concert.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Taken from radio appearances and concerts, this is the definitive live album for the early glory years of Talking Heads and shows their evolution from quirky arty new wave band to quirky arty neo funk new wave band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: As great as their albums were, Talking Heads were just as great live, as this double live set (ultra expanded for CD and streaming) shows. And they were smart in dividing it in two cleanly as well.

The first half of the set featuresthe basic quartet ripping through songs mostly culled from their first two albums (with a single, an unreleased track, and two from Fear of Music). The initial quartet played together so well, with husband and wife Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth holding down the rhythm and back end, allowing David Byrne and Jerry Harrison freedom on guitar and keyboards.

The second half is the ‘big band’ they assembled for the Remain in Light tour. Featuring keyboard whiz Bernie Worrell (who just left George Clinton’s orbit), guitar wunderkind Adrian Belew (adding another layer of arty complexity), and powerhouse vocalist Dolette McDonald, the big band took on the more complicated songs from their third and four album, and enhanced their earlier songs as well with their presence.

This is a great snapshot of the early Talking Heads, when they were raw and hungry and still a chart underdog. Better commercial success would follow, but this may be their career peak.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: At least two complete concerts from the ‘big band” (Rome and Passaic, NJ) are on You Tube and well worth spending the time with them. Especially “Crosseyed and Painless” with the intro.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: As said above, this is ultra-expanded from the 2-record set. But somehow they chopped off the intro for “Crosseyed and Painless”

 GRADE A+: It may be one of the best live albums of all time, especially in capturing a band at its peak in at least two eras.

Talking Heads – Remain in Light

ARTIST: Talking Heads 220px-TalkingHeadsRemaininLight

TITLE: Remain in Light



SINGLES: Once in a Lifetime (#103 US, #14 UK), Houses in Motion (#50 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On), Crosseyed and Painless

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Franz, Brian Eno, Nona Hendryx, Adrian Belew, Robert Palmer, session percussion and horns.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Never standing still, Talking Heads move into a groove-based rhythmic sound with plenty of room for experimentation and production tricks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Crafting the songs from jams, adding crucial elements like Nona Hendryx’ backing vocals and Adrian Belew’s out-there guitar, Talking Heads overcame David Byrne’s writers block and created a forward-thinking album that is still far beyond what many bands have done.

Using African music and rhythm as an inspiration, the Heads dove in to create an outwardly rhythmic and inwardly introspective album. Many songs feature element upon element of sound, yet the rhythm is always forward. There also couldn’t be two different grooves and sounds than “Crosseyed and Painless” and “The Overload” (a homage to Joy Division, even though no one in the band had heard them before), and they exist here on the same record by the same band.

The last part of the album seems to run out of steam, probably thanks to the joyous first part, yet it’s a crucial album in music because of its emphasis and inspiration.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There were plenty of disputes between Byrne and the band, and Eno and some of the band related to credits and production.


GRADE A: Bona-fide classics and lots of grooves to get lost in.

Talking Heads – Fear of Music

ARTIST: Talking Heads                            Talking_Heads-Fear_of_Music

TITLE: Fear of Music



SINGLES: I Zimbra (#28 Dance), Cities, Life During Wartime (#80 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Memories Can Wait, Heaven

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz with help from Brian Eno

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Another big leap forward, as the Talking Heads play with rhythms and sounds from outside the normal rock element.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Talking Heads could have recorded variations of their first two albums and gone along quite nicely, thank you, but David Byrne was always wanting to expand his sonic palette and utilize sounds and rhythms not usually associated with popular music.

Mostly it’s successful, with songs about cities, heaven, newspapers, nuclear war, electric guitars, crimes against the state, and a Dada tone poem. The band, along with Brian Eno, follows along with an expanded range of sounds, funky rhythms, and experiments. Even with the melancholy nature of the lyrics, the playing is joyous and light, except when it needs to be heavy and foreboding (as in “Memories Can Wait”).

There’s only one track that doesn’t work – the album closer “Drugs”, though I get what they were after. It wouldn’t be the last time that a Talking Heads album closer misfired.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The basic tracks were recorded in two days in Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s loft.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an outtake and some alternate versions of tracks. 

GRADE: A: Another masterwork by the Talking Heads, who were just on top of their game.

Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food

ARTIST: Talking Heads                                                   220px-TalkingHeadsMoreSongsAboutBuildingsandFood

TITLE:  More Songs About Buildings and Food



SINGLES: Take Me to the River (#26)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Thank You For Sending Me an Angel, Found a Job, The Girls Want to Be with the Girls

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz. Brian Eno is also hands on as producer.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the Heads broaden the sound and styles while keeping the essence the same. A true winner.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The second album was not sophomore slump for David Byrne and the Talking Heads. Fully utilizing Jerry Harrison (a latecomer to the initial trio) and adding the guidance and ears of Brian Eno, Byrne and the band moved past the other CBGB’s bands into their own unique space.

Rhythm section Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz totally locked in and created rhythms and structure to underpin the new directions Byrne and Eno were leading the band. A track like “Warning Sign”, which it’s syncopation, gradual additions layers of guitars, synths and effects,and Byrne’s treated vocals, was ear opening, as people realized the Talking Heads weren’t just a quirky, jittery guitar band anymore. Weymouth was probably the hero of the album with solid, moving bass lines that anchor the songs and provide movement.

All eleven tracks are stellar – in fact the weakest cut may be their hit cover of “Take Me to the River” – that’s how strong the original songs are. This is a must have for any rock fan.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The backing vocals on “The Good Thing” were credited to “Tina and the Typing Pool”. It sounds like Tina and her sisters that would soon form the Tom Tom Club.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few alternate versions.

GRADE: A+:  This is the pinnacle, artistically, of the CBGB scene. Soon, the Talking Heads would move way past this.

Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77

ARTIST: Talking Heads 220px-Talking_Heads_77
TITLE: Talking Heads: 77
SINGLES: Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town, Psycho Killer (#92), Pulled Up
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: New Feeling, The Book I Read, Don’t Worry About the Government
LINEUP: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Intelligent and arty CBGB band records an album full of inventive, observational songs backed with a spare production highlighted by Weymouth’s bass lines.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The songs are off-kilter, as are the vocals and lyrics. That’s the charm of this album, though. Nothing was really straight-forward even when it seemed so. Love songs have a twist and turn, there are songs about everyday life, such as reading a book or visiting someone at work.

Byrne’s vocals are the thing that stands out at first. A high warble that can at times go manic (like at the end of “Pulled Up”) or mysterious. Then when you hear the songs again, you notice that Frantz and Weymouth are locked in as a rhythm section, and Weymouth’s bass becomes a melodic anchor allowing the guitars to be mostly rhythm or melodic riffs.

It’s an excellent debut and is the basic building block for the Talking Heads. No matter what they would add to their mix, this is the sound of the band at its essence.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Byrne, Frantz and Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design. Harrison was in the Modern Lovers and joined the band right before they started to record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with singles and outtakes.

GRADE: A: It will take a few listens since it is slightly out-of-mainstream but once you get their direction of this album it will reveal its secrets.