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Old 07-23-2009, 02:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Talking Heads - Remain In Light



'Take a look at these hands'

Who knew that a group of Rhode Island School of Design students would move to NYC and start playing in a piss drenched little hole-in-the-wall called CBGB and be apart of one of the most revered and myth shrouded movements in 20th century music, their peers including Television, The Ramones, Blondie and many more. They were the nerdy band of CBGB, a bit smarter than the others, the literary band, the ones who included french lyrics in their anthems about murder.

All the great punk bands abandoned or changed up the form after a couple of years and by 1980 the Talking Heads had, for all intents and purposes, said their farewells to the punk scene. They were always meant for greater things. So they teamed up with an old collaborator, Brian Eno, and made him produce their next album, way before it was the fashionable thing to do if you wanted to change your sound.

To call this album important or innovative is an understatement. Along with a few other bands like Joy Division, Devo and the Berlin Trilogy by Bowie(which Eno had a big hand in, and who also produced Devo's first album), Remain in Light helped define the style that would come to dominate the 80s, New Wave. However, Remain in Light was completely unprecedented and even when it claimed to be influenced by something, those claims may be shoddy, for instance, with the final song “The Overload”, the band claimed to have attempted to make a song similar to what Joy Division would have made, despite the fact none of them had ever heard Joy Division, instead basing the song off what they thought Joy Division might sound like, their sole sources being press releases describing the band's sound.

The album starts off with a danceable rhythm yet with an anxious and nervous voice yelling. This nervousness and anxiety dominates the album, with lyrics like: “Lost my shape... Tryin' to act casual!/Can't stop... I might end up in the hospital/Changin' my shape... I feel like an accident!”

Even the album cover seems to perfectly convey anxiety. I see something else there too, a theme which would dominate the 80s, the struggle between machine produced music of the new wave and the idea of “authentic” music with “real” instruments. This album presents an interesting dichotomy between the two. It has a mix of the two and though it uses the same types of instruments bands like Kraftwerk would use to sound absolutely robotic, Remain in Light retains a timeless sound. It pulls from many disparate genres using African polyrhythms, experimental Krautrock structures, instrumentation from funk and disco, and the alienation and mood of punk. Vernon Reid describes it as “Instead of alienation turning into dark angst it turns into celebration, the dance.”

This album is a masterpiece and in my view, in the pantheon of American artwork, and it's a one in a million sort of occurrence. In the albums most poignant moments, it harkens back to other great American pieces of art, like The Great Gatsby and Citizen Kane, perhaps described best in the song “Once in a Lifetime”

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-well...how did I get here?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Once in a lifetime indeed.


10/10


Must Download Tracks:
1. Born Under Punches(The Heat Goes On)
2. Once in a Lifetime
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Old 07-23-2009, 04:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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good review! and i completely agree on your must-download tracks. PM me if you need help finding this. my favorite Talking Heads album for sure(studio album).
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good review. Not too fact based but not overly personal, it was an easy and flowing read stuffed with things I had no idea of. Definitely heard David Byrne was out there. Surprisingly I have this album, though I have never listen to any Talking Heads or David Byrne in my life. I'll be sure to spin it and tell you what a think.
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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God, that opening track is really one of the greatest of all time. From the opening "Hi!" to the "Pocket Calculator" reminiscent bleeps and blips towards the middle section, it's just fantastic. I always turn the volume up when I hear that one.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickenbacker View Post
God, that opening track is really one of the greatest of all time. From the opening "Hi!" to the "Pocket Calculator" reminiscent bleeps and blips towards the middle section, it's just fantastic. I always turn the volume up when I hear that one.
yea i think it is my favorite Talking Heads song.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Top job with the review there. It just edges it past Fear Of Music as my favourite Heads album, as to me it sounds a bit like a more unified album than the former, which is quite an achievement given the shift in musical focus between sides A and B.

Good picks with your choices of highlights too, though I personally would add Seen and Not Seen them and Houses In Motion (one of the most gloriously bizarre U-turns on any album I've heard) to them.
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Old 07-25-2009, 05:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You done good with this review.
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Old 08-18-2010, 03:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It's an out of this world album - breathtaking now and back then...
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I bought this CD especially the title song "Take these hands" who is prepared to perfection. This whole songs makes me want to dance. so fun! It is relaxing and energizing same time Love it!
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