This is one of the most important Punk records to hear today. Not only it began Talking Heads career in a big way, it also showed that a mixture of sounds and artistry in the Punk movement could be popular to fans and listeners out there. This was taken on further by groups such as Joy Division later on in the decade, along with countless others. Still, for all purposes, this album must be observed. Let’s do so right now, and hopefully it is a very good listen indeed.
The album begins with Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town which begins with some clean guitar sounds and a set of funky rhythms. David Byrne sings wonderfully here, and there is a really nice mixture of sounds and textures with guitars and keyboards here. A wonderful and enjoyable Pop music sort of piece, without embracing the Progressive Rock format that was dying out at the time, this sounds superb. The lyrics and music fit perfectly here, and this is a nice start to this record. Better than a lot of Disco at the time as well, Talking Heads make a major impression at the start here. Excellent.
Next along is New Feeling which begins with a legendary and catchy set of guitar riffs, a deeply funky bassline and a Reggae feel to this whole piece. Somewhat sounding deliberately emotionally detached with the singing, David Byrne puts in an excellent performance on vocals. The music perfectly complements the lyrics, and these guys sound like they are on a musical mission to succeed. This is a short and enjoyable listening experience that sounds very different to a lot of the music that was popular at the time, being a melting pot of mixed sounds. Very good song.
Tentative Decisions begins with more funky rhythms and sounds very Poppy. A different and eclectic tune, it is painting the picture for relationship issues. A really direct and to the point piece lyrically, matched with some unusual not-so-Punk sounds, this is bitter, at least lyrically. This is way more adventurous than most Punk music out there, and sounds like a very varied and interesting piece of music. Begging a lover to make up their mind, there are piano parts and bongo beats here as well to conclude.
Happy Day begins with some pretty piano parts, nice guitar strumming and an original sounding piece of music. David Byrne’s voice floats above everything, and the whole group sound really fantastic here. A wonderful and lively piece of music, the song mixtures a bunch of different sounds and styles that many people into Punk would quite simply refuse to do at the time. Still, these are great tunes, and shows that Talking Heads studied their musical history very well. A retro sounding organ keyboard part instead of a guitar solo is here, a really nice and different mixture of sounds and shows the fact that you don’t need overdriven/distorted guitars to make an impact. Good tune.
Next is Who Is It? which is less than two minutes long. It is a super short piece that sounds really odd and nonsensical. More a piece of musicality than an actual song, this is the more random side of Talking Heads. It has some interesting and excellent delivered sounds, building up to a refrained release at the end. Interesting tune.
Following is No Compassion which sounds like an unusual sort of song to begin with. Some clean, Fender Stratocaster sounding parts and some slide guitar are here, before David Byrne gets singing. This is a really expert sounding piece of music, which changes tempo, key and structure at the drop of a hat. This is a really good tune, simple, yet effective. It sounds powerful without cranking the guitars to a high volume, and is really quite excellent. Although this is a longer piece of music, it is still under the five minute mark. It seemingly ends in the second half, before launching straight back into another section of slide guitar based jamming, followed by more singing and good melodies to finish the song with, before finishing up with a jam section and a great ending. Excellent.
The Book I Read begins with some intricate and funky guitar sounds. These guys obviously had a huge array of musical influences, and this is evident in the material on this album. This is another wonderful piece of music that is enjoyable, and is about reading a book which has an emotional impact on oneself. A really cool piece, there is some really low key piano playing here, along with some excellent wordless harmonies. This is a really great piece of music and is very decent listening. Talking Heads made some great songs, and this is one of them. The harmonies are irresistibly good, and make this piece come alive. Great stuff, Talking Heads. A very good song.
Don’t Worry About The Government begins with some odd sounds, bass guitars and enters a piece that sounds very good. It’s not really about the government exactly, and instead is about the personal issues that one can experience with friends and family. Indeed to many in democracy, even if they support a certain political party or movement, the reality is that voter apathy is high, even with a certain political position in mind. Good song about being a powerful figure in society, and matched very well musically. This asks one a question about the realities of being in a government role. Also, it is a decent song. Nice work Talking Heads.
Next along is First Week / Last Week…Carefree which begins with another clean and clear Reggae style rhythm, with extraordinary singing by David Byrne. It sounds really good and fine listening here, with a descriptive lyrical and melodic vocal delivery. This has a nicely mixed in saxophone solo that sounds really excellent, and this is a very consistent and well worked on piece. Catchy and good music that sounds really excellent for that long car drive to and from work. Nice tune, it ends superbly with some different harmonies throughout this piece than what you’d typically expect. Excellent.
Following is the big hit from this album Psycho Killer. Reportedly, David Byrne wished to create a sort of description of events with this song, rather than something deeply personal, given the nature of the song. It begins with a simple bass line, kick drum beats and some electric guitars that are very memorable and listenable. The lyrics here and the music are super good, and this is a great piece for 1977. It fact, it seemingly defines this year in music, it is simply that good. Not just about a person who is a psycho killer, it is about social issues as well in society. The middle section is strangely odd, with some broken vocal syllables instead of an instrumental solo section, this is pure genius to listen to. An excellent and very memorable song from start to finish, with a bunch of Fender guitars and odd sounds to conclude. A must listen song from this era.
Pulled Up is the last main track here. It has some very good chugging Rock guitars and some interesting lyrics about making progress in life. Musically, it is an excellent mish-mash of sounds and delivery which sound incredibly good. A really interesting and lively listen, it goes to show that one should follow their dreams and make it that way in life, rather than doing something that everyone else does. Good tune, it sounds really interesting and excellent. With some great vocal delivery over a smooth backing section of music, it shows that even quirky like the Talking Heads were is brilliant. The ending is super good.
Love > Building On Fire is the first of the bonus tracks. It begins with some unusual sounds, followed by some passionate singing by David Byrne. It is a direct and sharp statement about love itself, which sounds fantastic. Some trumpet solos are here in the middle, sounding very excellent and inspired listening. A decent piece that could have been on the album originally, it is about have more than one love, hence some issues with this. Really good listening.
Next is I Wish You Wouldn’t Say That which definitely sounds like a wah-wah, Disco music piece. It has some different lyrics here than your average Disco song of the era, it sounds very direct. Another very good tune that could have been on the original album. Some super funky guitars are here as well, making this piece very interesting listening. Fairly repetitive, but good nonetheless.
An interesting piece comes next, being Psycho Killer – Acoustic. It begins with a kick drum beat, and a more stripped back version of the original song, complete with what sounds like cello. It is just as good as the original album version, and just a bit different to hear. Very good and interesting that Talking Heads recorded a different version of the original song, it sounds just as dramatic and interesting as the original song. It is somewhat like The Beatles I Am The Walrus, late 1970s style. It finishes with a lengthy and excellent outro that brings a different perspective to the song. Great piece here.
I Feel It In My Heart is a very Pop sounding piece from the beginning, with a very audible bassline to match. It is another cut that sounds really good, although it didn’t make it onto the proper album. David Byrne puts in a really fantastic vocal performance here, he just sounds plain fantastic. A really passionate performance, this is a really different listen here. Very good, once again, and is a nice addition as a bonus track on this album.
Sugar On My Tongue is last, with a very memorable acoustic guitar intro and some crashing drum beats. Shortly into it, it launches into a very sexual sounding piece. In any case, this is fortunately a good bonus track, although a little repetitive to listen to. Fortunately, it is only two and a half minutes long to listen to. Rather nonsensical, but that is the point. Anyway, it is a good way to finish this album.
This is a very good listen which shows that Talking Heads were a band on a mission. They delivered a very solid sounding debut album that broke the walls of Punk music down, making it a more accepted and mainstream sound. This is only the beginning of their career, much more was to be delivered in the years following. A good, strong start here.
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