Friday, January 21, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 212 - Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues

By: March

Album - Speaking in Tongues
Artist - Talking Heads
Key Players- Tina Weymouth - synthesizer, string bass, backing vocals, guitar. Jerry Harrison - keyboards, guitar, backing vocals. Chris Frantz - drums, backing vocals, synthesizer. David Byrne - vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, percussion.
Produced By - Talking Heads

Release Date May 31, 1983

What caused me to blow off the dust? - There are so many great records by this band. Sometimes you just need to go for the one most folks would recognize. Couple this with my past "re-look" at David Byrne thrust this upon you/us.

Overview - One of the early punk bands, New York band Talking Heads broke on to the scene in as early as 1975 playing New Yorks famed CBGB's club. This is the bands fifth studio album. The album would peak at 15 on the US Billboard charts and feature two radio singles. The band would continue to perform until 1991 before disbanding. In 2002 the band was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They'd perform together and one of the most wonderful moments the band members thanked one another for playing "just one more time so our kids could see us do this". Amazing moment.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens up with one of the most well know tracks by the band. A few chiming keyboards and wavering syths slowly crest before the tom toms are struck and "Burning Down the House" gets underway. Byrne is surrounded by punchy guitar riffs and short keyboard burst at first. Before the chorus Frantz continues to work the tom toms giving a deep powerful fill. The drums are seemingly electric and the synths are really in your face and rather than a guitar solo later we get a good portion of the synth and drums. The verse returns but the track has a long musical interlude to conclude with the synth and drums working in tandem. On "Making Flippy Floppy" Byrne is a little more quirky sounding and Weymouth has some strong bass work right out of the gate. The song has a quick tempo to it, but it is not "busy" sounding at the same time. The band has a fun tempo as indicated and the synths are doing the bulk of the fills. Byrne will toss in some quick guitar riffs and Weymouth and Frantz work the bottom with the bass and drums. Weymouth has about as close to a bass solo as you'd expect on a collaborative effort. Harrison continues to keep pace on the keyboard. Another real stand out in the bands catalog is "Girlfriend is Better". Deep synth grooves with hand claps set the tempo for the track. A terrific sing along chorus that is prefixed with chanted lyrics. The backing vocals are more noticeable on this track than the prior two. Weymouth has some fun funk bass fills as Harrison fills the upper layers. In the end, this is one of the longest tracks on the album with and extended synth jam later in the track. "Slippery People" also begins with a deep feeling to it. Quickly though percussion fills the speakers and Byrne gives a few real short choppy riffs. The band enlisted the help of Nona Hendryx for the deep soulful backing vocals. The track has a nice groove to it, but is a little slow tempo wise. Still a great song, but the live version on "Stop Making Sense" is that much better. The instruments work to get " I get Wild/Wild Gravity" rolling. Weymouth pops some bass notes as the synths put down heavy layers below. The song for me personally fails to really get going. Its not a bad track, it just a more somber track while not really intending to be. "Swamp" has a real fun, deep groove to it. Another track that showcases the band as whole which is wonderful. Each instrument is right there in the mix and you can tell each member is key to the whole sound. "Moon Rocks" continues with the strong back beat from Frantz and Weymouth. Byrne sings a little more laid back, but he still sounds like himself and the song. Byrne also continues with his "less than flashy" guitar work. He chops out his riffs and allows Harrison to fill in the gaps. "Pull Up the Roots" sounds very much at home on this album. The claps, the synth that pounds underneath before the pop bubble appears. The album closes out with one of the finest songs the band ever wrote in "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)". The mellow tempo is accented with the playful keyboard fills. The guitar has the right punch and Weymouth snakes all over the bass. A terrific album closer.

Where are they now? - The band broke up in 1991 but played as "The Heads" without Byrne for a brief time. Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz were married in 1977 and went on to form Tom Tom Club which continue to write and preform at their own pace. Also, production work for both has been common. Jerry Harrison has put a producer hat on for many bands including Live, and the Violent Femmes. David Byrne is a published author and continues to work on solo material. He has won and Oscar and Golden Globe and is and avid cyclist.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the band live. If ever give the chance I would jump at it.

FDF Overall Take - As noted, the band has so many great songs a best of collection is the first route many could or would take. The live album "Stop Making Sense" is fantastic. They are Talking Heads, really..any one of their studio records you'll find *something* worth your time. You might find this one accessible for the strong singles.


The band on myspace.
David Byrne site here.
Tom Tom Club site is here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Talking Heads - This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)

Talking Heads - Burning Down The House LIVE!

You can buy the record right here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Jimmy said...

Great album. This is the one that put Talking Heads in the mainstream. It was amazing how they kept being innovative after this. Too bad the well went dry. I enjoyed this "newer" funkier sound. It is different from earlier stuff but I thought they met the challenge. "This Must Be the Place" is my favorite. This album and Joe Jackson's "Big World" standout from the mid-eighties.

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a longtime friend of the talking heads, recently i dusted of my old tape deck and digitized my old live tapes, some of them are already up(and I even sing on one of them)



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