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Talking Heads

At the start of their career, Talking Heads were all nervous energy, detached emotion, and subdued minimalism. When they released their last album about 12 years later, the band had recorded everything from art-funk to polyrhythmic worldbeat explorations and simple, melodic guitar pop. Between their first album in 1977 and their last in 1988, Talking Heads became one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '80s, while managing to earn several pop hits. While some of their music can seem too self-consciously experimental, clever, and intellectual for its own good, at their best Talking Heads represent everything good about art-school punks.

And they were literally art-school punks. Guitarist/vocalist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, and bassist Tina Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early '70s; they decided to move to New York in 1974 to concentrate on making music. The next year, the band won a spot opening for the Ramones at the seminal New York punk club CBGB. In 1976, keyboardist Jerry Harrison, a former member of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, was added to the lineup. By 1977, the band had signed to Sire Records and released its first album, Talking Heads: 77. It received a considerable amount of acclaim for its stripped-down rock & roll, particularly Byrne's geeky, overly intellectual lyrics and uncomfortable, jerky vocals.

For their next album, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food, the band worked with producer Brian Eno, recording a set of carefully constructed, arty pop songs, distinguished by extensive experimenting with combined acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as touches of surprisingly credible funk. On their next album, the Eno-produced Fear of Music, Talking Heads began to rely heavily on their rhythm section, adding flourishes of African-styled polyrhythms. This approach came to a full fruition with 1980's Remain in Light, which was again produced by Eno. Talking Heads added several sidemen, including a horn section, leaving them free to explore their dense amalgam of African percussion, funk bass and keyboards, pop songs, and electronics.

After a long tour, the band concentrated on solo projects for a couple of years. By the time of 1983's Speaking in Tongues, the band had severed its ties with Eno; the result was an album that still relied on the rhythmic innovations of Remain in Light, except within a more rigid pop-song structure. After its release, Talking Heads embarked on another extensive tour, which was captured on the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film Stop Making Sense. After releasing the straightforward pop album Little Creatures in 1985, Byrne directed his first movie, True Stories, the following year; the band's next album featured songs from the film. Two years later, Talking Heads released Naked, which marked a return to their worldbeat explorations, although it sometimes suffered from Byrne's lyrical pretensions.

After its release, Talking Heads were put on "hiatus"; Byrne pursued some solo projects, as did Harrison, and Frantz and Weymouth continued with their side project, Tom Tom Club. In 1991, the band issued an announcement that they had broken up. Shortly thereafter, Harrison's production took off with successful albums by Live and Crash Test Dummies. In 1996, the original lineup minus Byrne reunited for the album No Talking Just Head; Byrne sued Frantz, Weymouth, and Harrison for attempting to record and perform as Talking Heads, so the trio went by the Heads. In 1999, all four worked together to promote a 15th-anniversary edition of Stop Making Sense, and they also performed at the 2002 induction ceremony for their entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Through the 2010s, Byrne released a number of solo and collaborative projects. Tom Tom Club continued to tour, while Harrison produced albums for the likes of No Doubt, the Von Bondies, and Hockey. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Same as it ever was! I love the Talking Heads!
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We're a bunch of TALKING HEADS
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I know I might feel the Byrne on this one, but you missed a lot. This is a disappointin g overview of an exceptional band.
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COOL STORY !!! freshmen year of trade of trade school !!! first day !! our filthy; bus fleet mechanic was standing in for a driver... chuck; whats up-chuck ??? } showed up with his own personal bus decked out with stereo gear from radio hack !!! my first morning in he showed up this song was playing !!! FOND MEMORIES OF BLUE HILLS REGIONAL VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL !! CLASS OF 87 !!! FONDLY DUBBED; THE BLUE ZOO !!! AND THAT IT WAS; A, FRIGGIN, ZOO !!!
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By the way, Kib, I don't think of Talking Heads as a punk band - but they certainly had enough energy for that. What about Dead Kennedys, or X?
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It's true, Philip - I don't see anything minimal about their tunes, and yes, they're certainly cynical, too!
Oh, and yes, they ARE irresistible , definitely.
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philippepelu s o
subdued minimalism? Irresistible cynicism, rather!
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what, no songs about trunks and seagulls
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BURNING DOWN DE HOUSE!!!!!!!
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Awesome band.Me and my mom love their songs!
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I knew back in 78 that they would be something special after seeing them open for the Good Rats!
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1983 winding along Gallows Hill Road, Durham PA. Hustling to be on time for two a day summer practice. Great memories of youth!
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one of the best American original punk band
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Into the blue again
Once in a lifetime!
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nice write-up Stephen, I think its typical of bands who have this determinatio n to be unique that eventually propels them to popularity
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wheres the good stuff ??
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One of the better bands to survive the punk scene
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Crossed eyed n painless live on stop making sense!!!!
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PSYCHO KILLER, MARRIED THE FIRST PART, NEARLY BECAME THE 2ND PART
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rickb5315
Ongoing bong
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walksinwater 7
Talking Heads "Girlfriend Is Better" is one of best dance songs that always does the trick and gets the hips grooving.
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I hate people when they're not polite.
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We had parties in the basement of the "Green House" and Dave Johnson banged the pots and pans - good times with Talking Heads following Bowie, NY Dolls and rock roll of seventies i.e. - the Stones & Who
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Psycho chichen
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Classic
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pattimurph
Best band ever!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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spott.4
Jammed out, everyone enjoyed the tunes.
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Cool babies, strange but not a stranger ;)
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Very good song!
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Burning down the house, same as it ever was. Nice. Not for everybody. But good enough for me
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Aye aye aye aye aye!
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rabrwn7
Take me to the riveeeeeeeee r
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megan1490
Mattie dancing to this song at the beginning of 13 the movie
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You are the best guy
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an ordinary guy
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Cool Baby. Im and ordinary guy...
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Now we are talking...
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One of my favorite songs, good memories
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The Name of This Band is Talking Heads == my absolute favourite live album I've ever heard.
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walksinwater 7
This is the one track I never get tired of hearing, and I rive it up to catch Gina's funky bass groove and dance away.
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I'm a huge Talking Heads fan!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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365degreezbu r n i n g d o w n t h e h o u s e
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Good song
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Once there was this band, talking heads. What happen?
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Once In A Lifetime was in the soundtrack of Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
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David Bryne may of written the lyrics to Pyscho Killer in high school, but not in Providence,R I . He was born in Scotland, then his family moved to Cannada. He did attend Rhode Island School of Design much later.
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The good ol days Fort Hood Texas ADA !!!!
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I was at the roxy in '78 and then again backstage for the stop making sense tour. Memories for a lifetime,
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It probably didn't cost very much to pay for the lyrics either so much better with the lyrics anyway.
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I agree! I prefer the lyrics included! I teach high school and sometimes use music to teach poetry. Bummed they are no longer here! Put them back, Pandora!!
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