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Old 05-04-2010, 04:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Happiness Is Easy: Talk Talk reviewed


Seems like everyone and their Mums are doing discography threads these days, which is awesome as they're far and away my favourite kinds of threads, but I'm getting a bit bored of the other threads of mine I've got going, so what the hell.

Who are Talk Talk then? To give you a literal answer to that question, here's the core of the band itself;

Mark Hollis: vocals, 1981-91
Simon Brenner: keyboards, 1981-83
Tim Friese-Greene: keyboards, 1983-91
Paul Webb: bass, 1981-91
Lee Harris: drums, 1981-91

Things'd get a bit more complicated than that as the band evolved within its fairly short lifespan (as any fans out there would well know), as Talk Talk are one of those bands which saw one of the most famous and critically acclaimed changes in musical direction. Starting out as a London-based band with its style firmly rooted in synthpop and new wave which had a real strangehold on the international charts, their third album acted as a bridge between that sound and what would come next as Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene began to exercise more control over the band's direction between them. I'm sure a lot of you already know what that sound was but, for the sake of those who don't, I'm gonna keep it a secret for now

In a sentence, Talk Talk stand as an example in the music industry of what I think it'd be so cool if today's cream of the crop could do, that being getting under the skin of the industry with a few hits and then tearing down the walls of pop and rock music from the inside - a noble sacrifice of material gain in the name of artistry. Such is why I think these guys are worth more of a mention around here and, by more of a mention, I do of course mean in the form of a discography thread.

Talk Talk's lifespan as a functioning musical unit was kinda short, so this won't be such a huge thread but, nevertheless, it'll keep me occupied around here for at least a little longer Here are the albums I'm gonna cover anyway;

Talk Talk
1982 - The Party's Over 5/10
1984 - It's My Life 8/10
1986 - The Colour Of Spring 10/10
1988 - Spirit Of Eden 10/10
1991 - Laughing Stock 10/10

Mark Hollis
1998 - Mark Hollis

O'Rang
1994 - Herd Of Instinct
1996 - Fields and Waves

Heligoland
2000 - Heligoland
2006 - Pitcher, Flask and Foxy Moxie

Tim Friese-Greene
2009 - 10 Sketches For Piano Trio

Last edited by Bulldog; 12-20-2010 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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As much as I know it'll break your hearts to find out, no, I'm not reviewing an album yet

Rather, I thought I'd give any of the non-so Talk Talk-savvy among us a little bit of a point of reference as to what they sounded like in the early days and the kind of character the reclusive Mark Hollis is. So, here goes then...

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Old 05-05-2010, 10:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Ooh looking forward to this I like me some Talk Talk.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well you KNOW I will be following this thread.
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks guys, I'll try not to let you down

If I don't get the first review up later today, definitely sometime over the weekend.
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Old 05-07-2010, 01:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Bull, I don't suppose you might review Mark Hollis's solo album as a bonus after getting through this discog. would ya?
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Old 05-07-2010, 01:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Funnily enough, I was only thinking about that a minute ago. You're on Tim Friese-Greene's done a few things solo too, so provided I can get hold of them, I'll throw those in as well.

9/10 chance I'm off out tonight, but I've got a long, football-free day ahead of me tomorrow, so I'll do my utmost to get the first review up then.
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Looked these guys up on Wikipedia OH GOD THEY LOOK SO GREAT.

Not listening to any songs yet but definitely looking forward to this.
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Love Talk Talk, been on a binge lately too.
Good luck mate, I'm sure you'll do them justice.

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Looked these guys up on Wikipedia OH GOD THEY LOOK SO GREAT.

Not listening to any songs yet but definitely looking forward to this.
You should most definitely listen to Such A Shame.
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Old 05-08-2010, 04:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Cheers guys. Let's see how it all goes eh.

Starting with...

Talk Talk
The Party's Over
1982


1. Talk Talk
2. It's So Serious
3. Today
4. The Party's Over
5. Hate
6. Have You Heard the News?
7. Mirror Man
8. Another World
9. Candy

So, here we have it then; the only full-length album the original Brenner-Harris-Hollis-Webb lineup of Talk Talk would release. I mentioned how in my earlier post Mark Hollis and co would start out by trying their best to get under the skin of the music industry with their earliest releases, and this is where that process began - with the making of such a blatant stab at the mainstream music-buying market. As such, using this album as a reference point to the kind of sounds Talk Talk would eventually get around to before splitting up is about as reliable some bloke's guarantee of quality on a bunch of DVDs he flogged off to for a couple of quid you on some street corner in Camden.

The album kicks off with the band's theme-song Talk Talk, which itself was actually released a little while before this album as the band chose to expand that EP's tracklisting into a full-length LP release. On a fairly hit-and-miss album, this is one of the better moments on show. Even if the synth motifs and fretless bassline date it quite a bit, you've simply gotta cast off any preconceptions you might have about the overall dodginess of 80s pop music and just enjoy a hell of a catchy tune. The following It's So Serious is another very good song like that as well, with another memorable chorus and a very pretty little synth sound to it (again, however dated it may seem).

After the fairly decent opening salvo, the album goes down a bit of a mediocre route, starting with another band-wide songwriting effort by the name of Today, which kinda steps over that very fine line there is between being a charming little slice of the old times and just being a plain uninteresting song. The longest track on the album by a bit of a stretch, the Party's Over has a fairly nice ring to its chorus, but otherwise it's more or less the same story for me. The following Hate improves things ever-so slightly with another good chorus and intriguing, tribal drumbeat underpinning the whole thing, but on the whole it's another song that just isn't that good.

Things pick up again in terms of quality as the album works itself towards its climax, beginning with the definite highlight of the entire album Have You Heard the News, boasting another pretty synth motif (which, as you may have noticed, drags this album down as much as it does it a service) and a good, pumping sort of bassline. It's all very New Order when all's said and done. The same could be said of Mirror Man, as it rolls into view on the back of some Human League-reminiscent synths and an interesting melody. Like Another World after it though, it just doesn't really come together as well as Have You Heard the News, despite not being a bad song at all. Candy puts the lid on the album and, again despite a few drawing points, doesn't really stand up very well by itself.

It's a very inconsistent album on the whole then, and hasn't dated well at all. If most of the songwriting was strong enough to work despite this glaring drawback, that wouldn't matter at all. The simple fact is that it isn't though, at least for me. Even as an 80s pop album this isn't really a very good unit of work, but having said that there are a couple of superb songs to be found here. Overall though, I'd only really recommend this for the completist. Also, as a lot of you well know, it's absolutely not indicative of what was to come from this band in future. Anyway, my 2 cents;

5/10



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