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Old 05-08-2010, 05:47 PM   #11 (permalink)
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A deaf man could tell these songs were from the 80's.
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:26 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OctaneHugo View Post
A deaf man could tell these songs were from the 80's.
Have You Heard The News is worth the first album alone.
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Old 05-09-2010, 06:52 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackhammer View Post
Have You Heard The News is worth the first album alone.
Yeah, pretty much. Looking back, I don't think I really stressed that enough in the review, so consider it stressed now

It's So Serious, Mirror Man and Talk Talk are pretty good songs too, if not quite on that level. Better things were on the way though (as we shall soon see)...
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Well bugger me sideways - last update 12 days ago?!

Just thought I'd mention I'm not gonna let this thread vanish off the first page here without at least getting through all of Talk Talk's discography. I've just pretty busy lately (hence my being a bit more scarce on the boards recently).

Anyway, It's My Life review, coming soon to a discography thread near you
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Old 05-26-2010, 12:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Looking forward to the Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock reviews. Remarkable albums.
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:07 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Double-update (to make up for lost time) coming up later tonight. If it turns out I'm needed at work, then tomorrow for sure.

I'm also gonna do my best to get hold of and then review every album possible from Talk Talk's associated acts - Mark Hollis' solo album, Tim Friese-Greene's solo album, Heligoland and O'Rang - just to keep things going a bit longer. I'll just update the OP in a moment or two.

So, yeah, watch this space in other words...
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Old 06-19-2010, 03:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Alrighty then, first of two reviews here...

Talk Talk
It's My Life
1984


1. Dum Dum Girls
2. Such a Shame
3. Renée
4. It's My Life
5. Tomorrow Started
6. The Last Time
7. Call In the Night Boy
8. Does Caroline Know?
9. It's You

With a moderate hit in the shape of Today under their belts, Talk Talk's fairly patchy debut had got their career in the mainstream music industry well and truly on the rails. Although, given how dated the album sounds by you and me's standards, the Party's Over had been as blatant a stab a commercial audience in those days as dying your hair purple and banging on a marimba for an album's worth of songs, there was the odd hint that there was something more to this band and, by the odd hint, I do of course mean the terrific Have You Heard the News - easily one of Talk Talk's best songs and basically the highlight of the album. While It's My Life still isn't any indicator of what was to come next from Talk Talk, it does find the band maturing very nicely as a group of songwriters and is a much more worthwhile album for it.

Part of this maturity can only have had something to do with keyboardist Simon Brenner's being replaced by Tim Friese-Greene shortly after the Party's Over's release, seeing the latter form a songwriting partnership with lead singer Mark Hollis which was absolutely pivotal to Talk Talk's evolution as a band. The Hollis/Friese-Greene partnership doesn't totally dominate this album, but it is nicely represented here and does the band's sound a world of good, as the opener Dum Dum Girls testifies - starting as it does with some neat vocal harmonies and synth before finding its way round to a great little chorus. The instrumental passage in the bridge is the work of a more mature band too, and right from the off we're already given a huge improvement on a lot of the Party's Over.

What follows are two Mark Hollis compositions, starting with Such a Shame, itself the band's first truly noteworthy success on the international singles charts (and a deserved one too, given its weird knack for being both darkly brooding and pretty damn catchy at once). The second of these songs, Renée, again shows off the darker, more pensive vein of Hollis' songwriting which would dominate the band's sound in their twilight years. While the synths underpinning it do sound fairly of their time, it doesn't hinder the level of quality one little bit. Another Hollis/Friese-Greene co-write, It's My Life, is where the album truly hits the heights, boasting just about the best chorus of all time as well as a very sharp bassline to drive it along. Breaking into the top 30 of singles charts pretty much everywhere but the UK (even hitting number 1 in the US), it stands as quite possibly Talk Talk's most well-known song. And the less said about that gobshite No Doubt cover the better.

After such a great opening salvo for the album, things get onto a bit of a downward slope with Tomorrow Started - not a bad song at all, but it pales in comparison to some on this record. Same story with the Last Time really. In fact, it's probably the weakest song on the album, what with how it overuses some of those instantly recognisable 80s-isms we all love to hate. Still, not bad at all, but just not hat great either. Call In the Night Boy, the last Talk Talk song to be co-written by the now-departed Simon Brenner, hasn't dated that well either, but the songwriting is more than strong enough to stop this from hindering the overall quality. Again, very nice keyboard-work from Friese-Greene (great solo in the bridge too).

As the album rolls along to its conclusion, another Hollis/Friese-Greene co-write in the shape of Does Caroline Know comes into view. Very interesting work on the synths from the latter (which help to shape a nicely atmospheric piece), a great bassline from Paul Webb and, more importantly to this whole thing about a band maturing, another pretty cool instrumental bridge. Like It's You after it though, it's a perfectly good song but just doesn't quite touch some of the heights this album's already reached.

Such is basically what prevents me from calling this album anything truly brilliant. While there are some terrific songs on this album and not any bad ones by any stretch of the imagination, it's definitely an uneven level of quality throughout. A massive improvement on the Party's Over and home to one of the very best singles of the 80s but, frankly, it's nothing compared to what was to come next. I'd still recommend it though.

8/10




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Old 06-19-2010, 03:49 PM   #18 (permalink)
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And it's time for the first glower...

Talk Talk
The Colour Of Spring
1986


1. Happiness Is Easy
2. I Don't Believe In You
3. Life's What You Make It
4. April 5th
5. Living In Another World
6. Give It Up
7. Chameleon Day
8. Time It's Time

Having sold singles and albums by the continent-load since first making thier way into the spotlight, it was when the prospect of a third Talk Talk album became very real indeed that things started to get a bit more serious. In new keyboardist Tim Friese-Greene, singer Mark Hollis had found a musical mind and very talented songwriter who could do his own vision of where he wanted the band to go justice, as you can probably tell by how much darker, moodier and more atmospheric the pair's co-writes on It's My Life were. Underneath the gloss of the synth-pop sound that dominated that album, there were subtle hints that Talk Talk had a very different kind of musical ammunition available to them. When it came to writing the Colour Of Spring, on paper alone you can tell that the band were seeking a new way of expressing themselves, with each of its eight songs being Hollis/Friese-Greene co-writes. When it came to recording it, Friese-Greene himself found himself in the producer's chair, conjuring a new, stripped-down sound which used more session musicians where there might once have been an excessive use of synthesizers. Together, Talk Talk pursued a very colourful sound which had a lot more in common with Scott Walker than Scritti Politti. The result is an absolutely golden album, and the first in a trio of flawless masterpieces.

Happiness Is Easy kicks the album off, and in the opening alone it's clear that we're dealing with a completely different kettle of fish - a robotic drumbeat goes off into jazzy tangents along with the odd burst of piano notes. Just as Hollis starts to sing of how 'it wrecks me how they justify their acts of war', the full scope of the song ahead of us unravels majestically, as the simplistic string arrangements and very typically-Talk Talk bassline ease into the sonic picture. Complete with a sparingly-used children's choir in the chorus and gorgeous trumpet solo in the bridge, this mid-tempo tune is just an absolutely masterful way to open this album up.

It's a song that's as ambitious as it is catchy, much like I Don't Believe In You after it or, indeed, the rest of the album after it. The general vibe of the album is a brooding, disenchanted kind of album that relies heavily on the undercurrent swathes of acoustic guitar, tight rhythms, subtle synths and a warm kinda feel to the piano, which is exactly what this song delivers. The mid-point guitar solo adds another colour to this wonderful song without being at all intrusive, and with a lyric like this...

Quote:
Promises so golden
Years have proved them wrong
I'm trying to leave some self-respect
Any way you say it
Our decline goes on
But your pride won't heed it
It's the same old song
I don't believe in you
...it's just as well really.

Life's What You Make It gets off to a hell of an opening, kinda jumping out at you with that infectious piano figure that kicks it into life. Again, it's propelled so efficiently by Hollis' beautiful singing voice, prominent and robotic kinda rhythm and the occasional blast of guitar to spice things up, all the while underpinned by some ghostly organ flourishes and strings. It's also another song that features a great, yet fittingly unintrusive solo, this one from the piano.

If it weren't for Hollis' instantly-recognisable voice, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a totally different band from the one that recorded It's My Life and the Party's Over, and the following April 5th is no exception in that regard. Another absolutely gorgeous song, although this time much slower than most of its bedfellows, it gets by on a peculiar rhythmic vibe and strange song structure, riding on Hollis' melody and Friese-Greene's sparse contributions on the piano.

Hollis and Friese-Greene are, then, the two men who this album basically belongs to, given the huge influence they both had on which direction this album (and therefore Talk Talk themselves) finds itself going in, that being the formation of a sound which is as ambitious as it is melodic. The big single from the album, the masterful Living In Another World, is the best example of this combination being used to full effect on this album. A livelier and more guitar and synth-heavy than the songs before it, Living In Another World is the perfect melodic vehicle for Hollis' cryptic lyrics, Friese-Greene's production ideas. Plus, that harmonica kicks arse.

Give It Up, while a bit heavier on the organ and piano and postively harmonica-less, is another song in that kinda vein - one that's so melodic and memorable (Talk Talk's older knack for coming up with a great chorus is on show again here), has another great rhythm and is given so much colour by Hollis' lyric;

Quote:
From the place that I stand
To the land that is openly free
Watching rivers run black by the trees
That are vacant to greed
Again, it's a million miles away from what Talk Talk had made their name for, as is the following Chameleon Day, which itself is a bit of a stylistic standout on this album. With its very, very slow and drastically desolate vibe, what with the gentle touches on the piano and Hollis' varying-in-volume vocal performance, without giving too much away it's easily the best indicator on this album of what would come even after this.

The shortest song on the album then gives way to the longest; Time It's Time. I've probably gone on a bit too long already, so I'll just tell you to check out the video for it below, and that it's another one of Talk Talk's absolute finest.

So there we have it. One of the true classics of the 80s, or even of all time, which shows the creative vision of Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene , the seeds of which were planted on It's My Life, really blossoming and becoming something very profound and unique. Pivotally, the album spared no effort in being as ambitious and endearing as it is, but also maintained a sufficient amount of melody to make enough money to take Talk Talk on their next musical adventure - a very, very different one even to this album. As for this one, it's among my favourites of all time. As a unit, along with the two albums that'd follow it, it's one of the most seamless listening experiences I've ever had.

10/10




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Old 06-21-2010, 06:55 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Storming album and great review sir. Anyone who says the UK didn't make quality Pop music with passion, originality and disquieting power should listen but they won't of course!
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:48 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Storming album and great review sir. Anyone who says the UK didn't make quality Pop music with passion, originality and disquieting power should listen but they won't of course!
Cheers Lee, and I suppose as long as people read thread it's job done for me.

Next one coming whenever feel like it - could be today, could be tomorrow, could be when you least expect it...
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