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Customer Review

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical record, 2 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Remain in Light [CD + DVDA] (Audio CD)
If anyone needs to be persuaded why Talking Heads were just a great band, not merely a great new wave band or a great post-punk band but a band up there with anyone else, 'Remain In Light', their ineffably spooky and moving masterpiece, is surely the evidence required.

The band's singer and chief songwriter David Byrne was, by his own admission, suffering writer's block around 1980. He had just written the bulk of three increasingly brilliant and increasingly dark Heads albums - '77', 'More Songs About Buildings And Food' and 'Fear Of Music' - and was understandably a little burned out. Producer Brian Eno and he were forming a close friendship and working partnership that other members of the band, chiefly bass player Tina Weymouth, felt was becoming over-intellectual and elitist. The band had various goes at making this album, in various studios, and ended up splicing bits of jams together to make something like songs. Byrne and Eno wrote odd bits of lyrics to sing over the top, and session players like Adrian Belew and Jon Hassell were brought in to provide tasteful (or in Belew's case, fabulously untasteful) musical embellishment. Other people have tried the same method since. It has almost never worked.

Whatever the unhappy circumstances of its making, 'Remain In Light' was a combination of the Heads rhythm section's exceptionally funky drive, Byrne's worry and paranoia, Eno's benign world-music inclusivity, and some special extra ingredient that lifts the whole thing into a frankly mystical level of trancelike intensity and directness. The whole album is laced with gossamer-fine overdubs, so that every time you listen to it you hear something you hadn't heard before. It moves from the urgent and faintly menacing ('Crosseyed and Painless') to the devastatingly sad ('Listening Wind') to the trippily ecstatic ('Once In A Lifetime') with seemingly no strain.

It's one of my favourite albums of all time, as you can probably tell, and it contains my favourite recording of all time in the form of 'Once In A Lifetime', the record that takes the nausea out of existentialism and replaces it with something very like bliss.

Talking Heads made many fine recordings before and after, some as good as this, perhaps. Brian Eno never made anything as good ever again. This was also the recording in which the schism that would later tear the band apart first became evident. Check out the solo recordings that the various members made around this time (Byrne's 'The Catherine Wheel', Harrison's 'The Red and the Black', Weymouth's and Frantz's 'Tom Tom Club') and you will begin to see why, eight years later, Talking Heads would be no more.

They were fab. And this is their finest almost-hour.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Feb 2014 23:49:36 GMT
A terrific and informative review. Must check out the other titles mentioned here. Thanks!

Posted on 15 Aug 2015 03:02:16 BDT
G Coulson says:
The love in this review, don't even mention it. x

Posted on 8 Jan 2016 19:27:37 GMT
Rosietoes says:
What a fabulous review thank you.
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