Saturday, November 14, 2009

Talking Heads - Remain in Light

Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Sire, 1980
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
Price: $6

I just realize I have never heard Fear of Music. I have heard every Talking Heads record BUT that one, and I find that strange. I thought I owned it too, but I do not. Remain in Light is great though. Really great. I like it a lot, that is. I listened to it a couple times while writing up my Dirty Projectors concert review because the whole opening paragraph was comparing Dave Longstreth to David Byrne. I even got to slip the big suit video on! Ultimately, I deduced (at least in my head, I can't remember if I put it in my review or not), that David Byrne is timeless and anyone who imitates him will never succeed quite as much as he did. That is, Byrne will always seem legit and never pretentious. Maybe other people find him pretentious but he always seemed very real to me, and a big factor in his being real is his sense of humor which never seems to be trying to be weird or offbeat, he just seems naturally funny. But I might be wrong, I know little about Talking Heads. Though Paul Simon is often to blame for the recent rash of African inspired white music (Dirt Projectors included!), I can see that it's Talking Heads who really went after this. At least it's not a direct rip off of afro-pop like Vampire Weekend (who, don't get me wrong, I think are great), but it sounds like they borrowed stylistic elements and created a sound entirely their own. I'm pretty sure those African polyrhythms came from Byrne's collaboration with producer Brian Eno, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which was recorded around the same period. “Once in a Lifetime” might be the band's biggest hit, or at least the song everyone has heard and the one used in many, many mainstream films, yet though widely appealing is still incredibly fucking good and out there. It's one of the most perfect songs for an existential crisis. “Crosseyed and Painless” is my favorite track off the record, but mostly because it serves as the triumphant finale to Stop Making Sense, you know, the part where they show people dancing in the audience. I really need to watch that again, and make Jenny watch it but after some disparaging remarks against the heads she made last night, I might just keep it on the shelf. That movie changed my life though, or at least the way I thought about music and film, and how perfectly they can be tied together sometimes. This was apparently their effort to change with the times, to up the ante and stave off mediocrity and I think their method worked. What we have is a funky, inventive record that still sounds better than a lot of the music people are tossing off today. It makes me long for simpler times when music could be good and popular at the same time, where a band like Talking Heads could make a really out there record combining funk, post-punk and New Wave into something incredibly engaging. Honestly, my only beef with this record is that closing track “The Overload” sounds exactly like a Joy Division track, but if that's my only quibble, then I guess this record's pretty goddamned good.

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