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Old 10-10-2011, 09:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Talking Heads- Talking Heads: 77- 1977


Talking Heads Talking Heads: 77
RMR Album Rating- 8


If Bob Dylan is the Shakespeare of rock lyrics, incorporating pure poetry and metaphoric verse into his songs, then David Bryne is the Hemingway of rock— with short, direct, and to the point lyrics; he also incorporated a bit of Oscar Wilde, as his lyrics were always laced with some comedic wit as well.

Bryne’s lyrics and vocal delivery really drive the Talking Heads’ sound on “Talking Heads: 77,” their debut album, and the music really just serves as a back drop to his lyrics and vocals. There aren’t really any instrumental passages that jump out at me, but there aren’t any bad instrumental segments either. The music really just flows along perfectly with Bryne’s lyrics and signing, and I find myself laughing along with his lyrics at times, not because they’re bad, but because he is able to take such simple ideas, sing about them in very simple way, but make a deep and artful point all at the same time… it’s actually quite amazing.

Aside from the lyrics and vocals, the music is mainly driven by the rhythm section of Tina Weymouth’s bass and Chris Frantz’s drums. The guitar work that is performed by Bryne and Jerry Harrison is very subtle at best, but it is certainly adequate. I’m not saying that they were poor players (they were certainly talented), I’m just making the point that their guitar work is not in the forefront of the album’s sound. The same goes for the keyboard work, which is essentially non-existent on the album, and this is a really interesting point. “Talking Heads: 77” was really the first new-wave album (albeit absent of keyboards), and it laid the blueprint for the whole new-wave movement, but the bands that the Talking Heads inspired, were almost all completely keyboard driven, and keyboards were without question the signature instrument of the new-wave movement in the early 80’s. I guess since it is basically impossible to replicate David Bryne’s lyrics and vocal delivery, these bands had to add an additional element, and that element was keyboards.

As for the songs, they are all fantastic. This album was re-mastered in 1995 with 5 additional tracks, and they are all just as good as the 11 songs that made up the original 1977 release. Listening to the album really reminds me of The Kinks’ “The Village Green Preservation Society,” in that as each song starts, you think to yourself… oh, this one’s great as well, and I wrote the exact same thing in my review of that Kinks album. There’s really just not a weak moment to be found, and the entire album just flies by. It’s tough to pick favorites, but I’ll say that “Tentative Decisions,” “No Compassion,” and “Don’t Worry About The Government” stand out the most for me, but my favorites change after each time I listen to the album. The latter is definitely a highlight, and its chorus perfectly illustrates Bryne’s short, to the point, and witty lyrics. Check it out; here is my favorite verse from “Don’t Worry About the Government” that starts at about 1:30, and it is also my favorite lyrical section of the album…
I see the states, across this big nation/ I see the laws made in Washington, D.C./ I think of the ones I consider my favorites/ I think of the people that are working for me/ some civil servants are just like my loved ones/ they work so hard and they try to be strong/ I’m a lucky guy to live in my building/ they own the buildings to help them along/ It’s over there, it’s over there/ my building has every convenience/ it’s gonna make life easy for me/ it’s gonna be easy to get things done/ I will relax along with my loved ones/ loved ones, loved ones visit the building/ take the highway, highway/ park and come up and see me/ I’ll be working, working but if you come visit/ I’ll put down what I’m doing, my friends are important.
I should also mention “Psycho Killer,” which is one of the Talking Heads’ more famous songs, and it is the only song from “Talking Heads: 77” that charted; it reached #92 on the singles chart.

I’ll close by saying that “Talking Heads: 77” was really a pivotal and influential album. In 1977, the progressive rock movement that had dominated the early and mid-70’s was coming to an end, and punk rock was just starting with the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. The Talking heads basically skipped over the punk movement altogether and somehow created post-punk before punk had even really started, and in doing so, they created an entirely new genre— that would later be referred to as new-wave. They were completely forward thinkers in their approach to music (even on this debut), and it is absolutely a must hear album.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You've inspired me to revisit this album. Thank you and please continue to review more albums.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I appreciate '77, but to me it's just nowhere near the level the band would go on to achieve with Remain In Light, Fear of Music and More Songs About Buildings & Food. It's a good debut, with some exceptional songs scattered throughout its duration, but ultimately I think it promises more than it delivers... But hey, they delivered on that promise, and then some.

I know people will disagree with me intensely on this. Good review.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Stu View Post
I appreciate '77, but to me it's just nowhere near the level the band would go on to achieve with Remain In Light, Fear of Music and More Songs About Buildings & Food. It's a good debut, with some exceptional songs scattered throughout its duration, but ultimately I think it promises more than it delivers... But hey, they delivered on that promise, and then some.

I know people will disagree with me intensely on this. Good review.
I disagree intensely only because no one can deny the greatness of the first 6 seconds of don't worry about the government
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I disagree intensely only because no one can deny the greatness of the first 6 seconds of don't worry about the government
Agreed on the start of "Don't Worry," but that whole song is phenomenal, and one of my favorite all time Talking Heads songs. Here's a great early live version...

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Old 11-29-2011, 09:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have that on dvd! haha
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Old 12-10-2011, 02:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The 2005 reissue contains "Sugar On My Tongue" as one of the bonus tracks, one of my favorite songs by the Talking Heads. I like their single "Take Me To The River". I'm not really very familiar with anything other than those two singles.

I have that particular song (Sugar On My Tongue) on the album "Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites", two-disc compilation album released by Talking Heads in 1992.
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Old 12-10-2011, 02:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu View Post
I appreciate '77, but to me it's just nowhere near the level the band would go on to achieve with Remain In Light, Fear of Music and More Songs About Buildings & Food. It's a good debut, with some exceptional songs scattered throughout its duration, but ultimately I think it promises more than it delivers... But hey, they delivered on that promise, and then some.

I know people will disagree with me intensely on this. Good review.
I totally agree with you Stu. It's actually my least favorite Talking Heads album.
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Old 12-10-2011, 05:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Of the first four albums I always think of Fear of Music as my favourite of the four, but for some reason this album their debut gets most played. I guess thats because it was so unique for its time and so innovative. The brilliance of early Talking Heads is their actual sound, rather than an individual album
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Old 12-10-2011, 05:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Of the first four albums I always think of Fear of Music as my favourite of the four, but for some reason this album their debut gets most played. I guess thats because it was so unique for its time and so innovative. The brilliance of early Talking Heads is their actual sound, rather than an individual album
I don't know how closely you could compare the Talking Heads style and sound to that of the Cars Soldier?
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