Talking Heads – Naked
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
The final Talking Heads record, and the most often derided. For good reason, too. Though the record contains the excellent “(Nothing But) Flowers,” one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, the album gets off to a terrible song with the faux-soul of “Blind” which sounds like David Byrne putting on blackface for its first half, with really corny horn blasts here and there and gah, bongos. I will say though, I really hate the horns on this record. They're corny, like Talking Heads are some kind of mariachi band. Whenever they drop out, the songs tend to be excellent. I should also say, any song Johnny Marr plays on is excellent. There's a tropical, laid back vibe to the songs with a really snarky undercurrent. That is today, there are environmentalist threads in “Totally Nude” and “(Nothing But) Flowers” that are totally great and kind of fun opposed to being overbearing, which tends to happen when bands try to push an agenda too hard. Actually, after getting past “Blind” and “Mr. Jones,” the first half of the record is pretty decent. And once again, I need to mention how fantastic “(Nothing But) Flowers” is. Wikipedia describes it as “the opposite of Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi,'” in which the world has been overrun by nature and the protagonist longs for strip malls and factories. Hence, it's subtler than Mitchell's number, and is more effective. Mostly, it's a really hit or miss record. There are some really excellent jams, but then there are big misses like the industrial sounding “The Facts of Life,” which sucks all fun out and makes for a really heavy handed smack on the head. Once he hits that awful falsetto in the middle, fuggitaboutit! Even though there are some super stellar jams here, I'm kind of glad the band dissolved after this because I would have hated to hear what they sounded like in the 90s. David Byrne did alright on his own, but anymore Talking Heads after this might have destroyed him.