The punk explosion produced so many bands it was a challenge to keep up. It seemed that every band gave their best on the first album and many of them fell apart by the time they could release a follow-up. Some only survived a couple of singles and never even got to release an album.
One band that fell into the punk category sort of by accident was Talking Heads. They didn’t have that three chord power, in your face, angry snotty attitude. They had something different. Artsy, intelligent and odd. Led by David Byrne, a borderline psychotic geek, Tina Weymouth on bass with precision like few others and by far one of the most underrated bassists in music. Drummer Chris Franz and Jerry Harrison round out the sound of this unbelievably tight unit.
Talking Heads 77 was a brilliant collection of hyper-active pop songs that stuck in my head for most of the year. I was extremely excited when Talking Heads were playing at a new theater in NYC called The Entermedia. I was not only fortunate to get tickets, I was in the 5th row center. It was one of the most anticipated concerts in my music life at the time.
There I was in the 5th row with my sister, Diana. My sister is 5 years younger than me, but loved the same music. She was a huge Talking Heads fan and more than happy to accompany me. I remember her noticing Andy Warhol behind us, two rows back. She said “Holy crap, we have better seats than Andy Warhol”
Talking Heads took the stage and proceeded to completely blow our minds. They had just released a 2nd album, which I had not purchased yet. It just came out that day. They played the entire album. I was hearing these songs for the first time. To this day, I remember that concert and it is surely in the top 5 of my favorite concerts of all time.
The album was “More Songs About Buildings And Food”. A funny title, since there was only one song about food and no songs about buildings. It was produced by Eno, the guy I remembered from Roxy music.
This album is so musically tight and precise it blows my mind whenever I hear it. I love how even the space in between songs are timed perfectly. It’s just an amazing album. Every song is brilliant. Not a bad song on this album.
I remember playing this album for my Record World co-workers and even the Disco/Led Zep/Billy Joel fans loved it. It was infectious. As usual, there was no getting through to the suburban sewer we called customers. They were too busy buying Steve Miller Band and Boston to even pay attention. Idiots.
Talking Heads followed up with “Fear Of Music” and “Remain In Light”, also brilliant albums. They had an almost meteoric rise to the top, more than any other band in the punk period, although I would not categorize them as punk. They have their own sound. Their influence is evident in just about every Indy band I have heard recently (Vampire Weekend, Franz Ferdinand, etc.) I think if Talking Heads came out today they would fit right in. Sadly, they would probably be catagorized as “hipster” and ignored by too many people, once again.
David Byrne went on to a highly artistic career in music of all kinds. He is a master and a genius and the weirdest guy at the party.
I have a feeling there is a whole cult out there of people who worship David Byrne. And rightly so.
For more about Talking Heads try the movie “Stop Making Sense”, one of the best concert films ever made and the recently released “Chronology” which is an amazing documentary of the band from the beginning to the end.
I love this band.