80’s Month: Talking Heads

I had no idea until doing a little research here that the Talking Heads put out 3 records before 1980.  Since there wasn’t much in the way of press for alternative bands at this time, bands like the Talking Heads were unknown to most of the population…that is until MTV.  Even though it had been out for a couple of years, I’m guessing it was 1982 before I saw for the first time the great video for Once in a Lifetime, even though Remain in Light was released in 1980.  Nearly 30 years before bands like Vampire Weekend, the Heads mixed African rhythms with punk/new wave.

Their follow-up to Remain in Light is not a personal favorite, but it did produce their biggest hit, Burning Down the House.

If you had never heard the Talking Heads, I would recommend first starting with the movie Stop Making Sense.  This concert video of the band shows the band at its peak and Byrne is hypnotic in his huge suit.  Here are a 3 favs from the 1984 film, Al Green’s Take Me to the River, Girlfriend is Better, and Psycho Killer.

It might be blasphemous to many Talking Heads’ fans, but my favorite record from the group is Little Creatures. It’s one of my favorite records of the decade, as it has so many great pop songs.  Road to Nowhere is a great gospel-influenced song, while And She Was sounds like the Heads doing the Cars.  Stay Up Late is hilarious.

Just when the band was hitting it’s zenith of popularity, problems between Byrne and the rest of the members had them all splintering off to solo projects.  While Byrne has produced a lot of solo stuff, it is not of the same quality of his work with the Talking Heads.  Here is the best song from a Heads alum, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s Tom Tom Club with the Genius of Love.


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