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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Desert Island Disc
I remember how eager I was to own this album when it first came out around 1990, and how on hearing it for the first time I was completely dumb struck. It is a feeling that has never diminished.
I get frustrated trying to explain just how good it is - how original, moving, unique and thought provoking, yet can never really do the piece justice. I once read an...
Published on 17 Feb 2004 by stevewilliams52

versus
9 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy listening?
Talk Talk were one of the few 80's bands that emerged from the decade with any sort of credibility. Most people will identify the band with the string of melodic hit singles that adorned the period and time has only improved their status.
This album however marked a complete shift in direction for the band with a move away from the driving melodic sound that was so...
Published on 23 Mar 2004 by phyllisasious


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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Desert Island Disc, 17 Feb 2004
By 
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
I remember how eager I was to own this album when it first came out around 1990, and how on hearing it for the first time I was completely dumb struck. It is a feeling that has never diminished.
I get frustrated trying to explain just how good it is - how original, moving, unique and thought provoking, yet can never really do the piece justice. I once read an interview with Rob Dickinson (brother of Iron Maiden's Bruce) from the band Catherine Wheel, who summed it up perfectly by describing it as "organic, breathing, what love truly sounds like". He describes the opening section as like "blood seeping from a wall". I couldn't ever better it. It is indeed music for the soul. It commands you to sit quietly and just let it wash over you.
There are too many things to recommend about the Spirit of Eden, whilst it is in six parts, it is actually a "whole". If I had to choose one track, then "I believe in you" is the piece that will stay with me always. How does someone write a piece like that?
I would have to say it would be my Desert Island disc - it has been the soundtrack for so much of my life, including recently the birth of my Son.
I read recently an interview with Turin Brakes who also cite Talk Talk's influence on them. It seems to be the case for so many people.
It is one of those rare albums that can be classified as truly "timeless".
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful masterpiece, 30 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
'Spirit Of Eden' (1988) contains six long free-form pieces. 'The Rainbow' opens with glacial muted cries of trumpet and electronics. Two minutes pass before the glacial silence is disturbed by melancholy blues guitar licks and harmonica that match the gloomy vocals.

At just over three minutes, vocals emerge as if out of the nowhere. Fleeting piano, organ and trumpet float wistfully on the surface, while guitar accompanied by harmonica, become increasingly strained and the pace recedes before the anthem of the song acquires a dense psychedelic overlay. Everything appears to be subtly calculated for maximum effect. A dozen instruments contribute to the arrangement, and the effect is beautifully understated and spartan.

'Eden' is as equally restrained as a piece but appears to be more disorientated as it slows, fades and pauses for breath. A lucid and trance like quality pervades the piece which delicately seques into 'Desire' - its souful theme reminscent of Steve Winwood's 'Traffic'. The track highlights a gospel organ, jazz trumpet and strained vocals which are all suddenly extinguished.

A similar theme pervades 'Inheritance'. Minimilist keyboards, bass and woodwind instruments alternate and flicker to an arrangement worthy of chamber music.

The sweet lullaby of 'I Believe In You' uses a vortex of harmonious arrangements, with an angelic chorus as a counterpoint. A kind of psychedelic trance and universal mysticism ensues. The effect is spellbindingly beautiful and emotionally intense.

The final track 'Wealth' announces a heartfelt hymn in which quivering vocals appear to almost crack with emotion. The piece closes with a long droning organ which fades to a ghostly silence.

'Spirit Of Eden' is a stunning 'slo-core' masterwork that references advanced electronic and celestial free-jazz and rock in the tradition of Canterbury. This astounding achievement is unquestionably the single greatest piece of work to be produced by a British band and ranks as one of the ten greatest albums ever produced anywhere.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Album of All Time, 9 Oct 2007
By 
P. W. Moore (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
For ages I have wrestled with the idea of trying to put into words my thoughts on what has been my very favourite album for nearly 20 years (ever since my mate Jamie played it to me just after its release - I will never forget that enlightening moment). I know that I will fail miserably, particularly as there are many fine reviews below, but I must have a go. When "Spirit Of Eden" was released in 1988, hitherto there had been no album like it. Music journalists struggled for comparisons, suggesting Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way", Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" or Can's "Tago Mago", even Satie or Debussy. These are fair starting points, but nothing can prepare the virgin listener for the boldest, most adventurous yet introspective masterpiece in modern music. Any attempt to describe this music in mere words will never do it justice or even fully succeed. The only way is to listen to it - ideally, as Mark Hollis himself recommended, "...in a calm mood with no distractions." The apparent influence this album (and its sequel "Laughing Stock") has had on other musicians is immense: Elbow, Pineapple Thief, Bark Psychosis, Porcupine Tree, Oceansize, Radiohead, Portishead, to name but a handful. I will round off by saying to anyone reading this: if you are yet to hear this inspired work of art, please at least give it a try, and persevere with it if you don't fall in love with it immediately - its charms are many and subtle. It changed my life and, just in case Mr. Hollis, Friese-Green, Webb or Harris reads this, I wish to thank you so much...
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can music change your life? Discuss., 4 Feb 2010
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
Can music change your life? Can music change anyone's life? I'm not so sure. Not directly, anyway. It's not like music can say, "Go for that job, support this policy, watch your cholesterol, have you ever thought of studying economics?" And if songs ever do say as much, then they're mostly pretty poor (U2, most solo Lennon, USA for Africa).

So: Did `Spirit of Eden' change my life?

I turned 17 at the end of 1988. For a present from a forgotten Auntie or Uncle - either for my birthday or Christmas (they're quite close) - I received a Woolworth's voucher. One of those lazy gifts you buy for a distant relative.

Now, before we all get rose-tinted about it, remember that Woolworth's always had a poor selection of music. Back when it was vinyl it had but a few rows of vinyl albums (and it never improved when CD's took over). Most of these were terrible albums too, but I went through them all anyway - we're only talking about a hundred at the very most - and apart from anything that I already had, `Spirit of Eden' stood out for two reasons. 1: It had/has a great cover sleeve and 2: It only had six songs on it. I had a fascination for albums with long & few songs on them. Plus, I had a vague recollection that Talk Talk had had a good song on the charts a few years previously. (When I bought `Colour of Spring' a year later I was immediately reminded: it was `Life's what you make it'.)

So home you go, put the record on, not expecting much and...

...Is there a better way to discover truly great music?

Nobody had told me, I hadn't read a review, hadn't heard a note, knew nothing of the record's existence `til I bought it and...

I could have shook; I wanted to shout. Did anybody else know?

No, actually. Nobody else did.

Talk Talk were my band; `Spirit of Eden' my album.

`The Rainbow' & `Desire' were my initial favourites. I didn't think much of side 2 for a while, I remember that. But then I did. Then I grew to like everything about the album. Then I grew to love everything about the album: That it was cut & spliced from hours of music recorded, rejected and reconstructed; that it was made in a disused church; that nocturnal habits were duly mentioned; that EMI were not happy bunnies, etc. But Talk Talk had done their own thing; Talk Talk had done absolutely their own thing. Slow, loud, quiet. That drum sound with the snare taken off, acoustic bass, a loud guitar, distorted harmonica, incredible Hammond, interlinked on side 1, long silences on side 2, all natural, beautiful and beyond.

The vinyl became so worn & scratchy as to be unlistenable, so I bought it again on CD. I'd never bought something twice before. Then I went backwards and got `Colour of Spring'. It had its moments - and is, of course, a bit of a masterpiece in its own right. But it's not the same. Could anything be the same?

So I started looking. Whenever the words Talk Talk got mentioned in a review, I sought it out. In this manner, I got `Bitches Brew.' I was initially disappointed. I'm not now, but I was right to think that it isn't much like `Spirit of Eden'. `In a Silent Way' is a more accurate descendant (and a better Miles starter to boot). Maybe Mark Hollis would disagree. Maybe Henry Lowther wouldn't.

And then I started looking into the lyrics, but I soon gave up realising that interpretation is open to itself (and I prefer it all to be a little vague anyway).

After Miles, it was Can. You can see the Can influence. (Compare the beats of Can's "One more night" from `Ege Bamyasi' to Talk Talk's "Ascension Day.") I'd never heard of Can `til then. Then there was John Martyn, Nick Drake, John Coltrane (although I latterly discovered that Alice Coltrane's albums - especially `Universal Consciousness' - are closer and, for me, the more beautiful for it). Then there was Robert Wyatt, Augustus Pablo, Ornette Coleman, even My Bloody Valentine. All new to me through this... unclassifiable art.

In subsequent years I went through umpteen musical phases, I discovered a whole host of different genres, bands, etc. I hope to continue to do so, but perhaps not at the cost of actually having a life as has been the case so often so far. But `Spirit of Eden' guided me towards a jazz, natural, open hearted manner that I still haven't achieved. The art seems to suggest that life can be as good as the art itself. So far, it hasn't been, and by quite a distance sometimes. But there've been some encouraging glimpses along the way, and it's a hazy aim which I've never quite managed to shake free from being my only true ambition. It's an aim I intend to stake out, clarify and attain.

When `Laughing Stock' came out in September 1991 I bought it on the very first day of release, the only time in my life I've ever done that. Another masterpiece. In fact it's even better, and possibly the most complete album ever made.

And STILL nobody else knew.

`Laughing Stock' got a great review in Melody Maker, but then it barely got mentioned ever again. I never once heard a second of it on the radio. Still haven't. In fact, out of the two albums I've only ever heard `I Believe In You' on the Mark Radcliffe/Stuart McConie show a year or two back, in connection with a brief-but-cool piece they did about Talk Talk & Mark Hollis. And after so much time and so many faces, I've still never actually met another living being who independently knows and loves these albums...

`Spirit of Eden' didn't entice me to start a rebellion, to cut my hair, to dress up, to blow up the Houses of Parliaments, to study harder, to find religion, to go on a march, to commit wanton acts or to join a cult. `Spirit of Eden' just encouraged me to look for different art and find what was suitable for me. I have managed this, mostly, with music, but at the cost of not sorting out my personal life or career to any great extent at all. I realise that this has to be my next phase.

So did the album change my life? Probably not, no.

Did it enhance my life?

In more ways than I could ever possibly describe, yes. Yes yes yes.

And now the rest is up to me...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have two copies of this album...., 12 July 2011
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
.....one for me and another to pass on to others, everyone should hear it. The greatest album ever made, in my opinion.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite album of all time, ever., 13 Oct 2006
By 
C. Porter (Worcester, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
Brave title for a review, eh?

Because I might, in a year's time, have found something better, mightn't I? Well, it's been no.1 in my headspace for 18 years so far, and showing no real signs of being threatened by a serious contender.

Why?

Maybe it's because it's a timeless production, with classical and jazz leanings, and a grandiose vision that helps it transcend everything else that shuffled out of the 1980s. Maybe it's because the lyrics are as good as impenetrable, and you can make of them what you will. Maybe it's because Talk Talk surpassed everything anyone could have expected of a former New Romantic floppy-fringed synth-pop band with this release. Maybe it's because it is such a bold musical statement (and one that lost them their record deal!).

Or maybe I'm right, and they achieved a perfect synergy of music, vocal, production, melody - everything.

The previous album (The Colour of Spring) showed they were going to get here, and the belated follow-up album (Laughing Stock) went even further (and left me behind a bit - it's a much more difficult listen, and sounds a lot more improvised than 'Spirit of Eden').

Whatever, it's almost impossible to write about music, but this album makes me want to try, in the hope that other people will get the message.

So, then. My favourite album of all time.

Ever.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a pair of Jeans, 22 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
On first buying "Spirit of Eden" after reading the favourable reviews from the dirty fingered print musical papers. ( used to get so much for your money then). I thought it was a big joke that I wasn't in on. Apart from one song I really didn't get it. Some years on I was considering selling my vinyl collection and decided to play every one of the 3000 albums. I was painting the lounge wall when I got to "Eden" . The blips and crackles which only vinyl delivers added to the confusion. What I remembered as a "mostly" lifeless effort had, incomprehensively turned into a prize fighter which floored me for the rest of the day. I played it over and over........ and still am. Where / How does material like this grow, where is it planted and who's got the key to Greenhouse? Every time I play this album I hear something new and it gets better every time. So much so I bought "Laughing Stock" and closed the blinds for the rest of the weekend. They won't get your mates up dancing but they may be the missing link between popular music and the next step into adulthood and may.. just nudge you in the back to a world of big ears and new opinions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phill Brown - Are We Still Rolling?, 13 May 2012
By 
David M. Briffa (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
Phill Brown was the engineer on this record. In his fabulous book Are We Still Rolling? he documents the story behind the recording of this album. I'm in my fifties, and had remembered Talk Talk as a 1980s New Romantic band who did things like Mirror Man and Life's What You Make It. When I started reading Phill's book I wasn't expecting too much from the two chapters on Talk Talk. However, once I had read them I bought this album.

Terrific. One of those records that make an immediate impact. Hugely satisfying. New Romanticism was just a passing phase (thankfully). The stand out track is Desire. So glad I discovered it. The older I get, the more difficult it is to find something new that I really like. Phill Brown, thank you. You did an exceptional job. Thank you, also, Mark Hollis. What a voice. Up there with the greats like Winwood and Plant.

If you don't know much about Talk Talk, please do two things: First, buy Are We Still Rolling? Second, buy Spirit of Eden. Unless I am very much mistaken, one or both of them will enrich your life. Cream rises to the top.Are We Still Rolling?: Studios, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll - One Man's Journey Recording Classic Albums
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atleast 5 more stars required please, 7 May 2012
This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
This album is almost 24 years old. I bought it on vinyl in 1988, bought it again on cd in 1990, and finally bought it a third time - this beautifully detailed remaster - in 1997. It has never dated, and genuinely sounds better every couple of years whenever I rediscover it again (and again....)
Last night it blew me away once more - so deep, so powerful, so delicate, so beautiful, words really can't describe the music on Spirit Of Eden; you have to hear it for yourself. And you'll always find new elements to wonder at
This release is one of the most impressive, thoughtful, and sympathetic remasters I've heard, and that's fitting for one of the most important and influential records made in the last 40 years. It may have been commercial suicide, but few artists would balk at it's lasting dignity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic, 23 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Spirit Of Eden (Audio CD)
I'm not even going to attempt to put into words the sheer complex and beauty that washes over this unique and very special 41 minutes of heavenly music, everytime i listen to this album it reduces me to tears, my desert island disc and for anyone that appreciates well crafted and intelligent music should own, along with "laughing stock" and mark hollis's solo album, for me, the finest 3 albums ever recorded.
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Spirit Of Eden
Spirit Of Eden by Talk Talk (Audio CD - 1997)
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