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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Laughing Stock
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£10.37+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 15 August 2015
Yet another truly magnificent musical masterpiece, particularly on vinyl and is closely beaten into third place in my list of favourite albums of all time by the preceding two from Talk Talk. Though, in my opinion, all three are best played in order of composition over one listening session, which is why, nowadays, I wait until I have a clear late evening, without distraction or fear of interruption and dedicate the time to just playing these three albums and as the music progresses becomes an intensely emotional and spiritual experience, often moving me to tears, especially since losing my gorgeous darling wife, Caroline, to cancer in May 2011, just two months after being diagnosed, then I go to bed because it is impossible to follow such an 'event' with anything else which is anywhere near as meaningful. Just as Caroline has always been and will always remain the total and absolute light and love of my life, these three 'movements' of one complete masterpiece will always remain the musical light and love of my life.
Please note that I have only rated the individual albums (ie. first, second and third favourite of all time) when they are viewed in isolation but taken as a whole, all three become equal first in my affections.
And finally, a very personal thankyou to the lads of Talk Talk and their talents for their very existence.
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on 5 June 2017
An absolute gem of an album and what is considered to be the "big bang" of post rock.
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on 18 August 2017
this is so sparse and fragile yet timeless music. it will never age.. radiohead you learned good..
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on 2 February 2016
Trying to describe Laughing Stock is an incredibly difficult task. It truly is an album that exists in its own time and space, sounding like nothing that came before it and nothing that came after it. It is partly that timeless nature that makes the album such a wonder. There are clearly elements of Jazz, Ambience and Rock present but all in a way that has never been heard before. The recording sessions are now the stuff of music legend and band leader Mark Hollis' perfectionist tendencies are well-known, but Hollis himself is the other reason the album succeeds to the level it does. His voice is very unique and the stark way it is used here (almost as an instrument itself) adds weight when it appears. But adding to its nature what makes the album so effective is that it strikes the right balance of soulful, challenging, melodic and atmospheric.

'Myrrhman' is simply a glorious opening, and is one of my favourite track of all time. It somehow sounds meticulously planned and wildly experimental. Guitar chords echo, drums are occasionally tapped in the background and brass instruments drift in-and-out. The string section that takes up the last 2 minutes of the song is simply breath-taking and never fails to take me somewhere far away. 'Ascension Day' is the closest thing to rock here. Built around a grooving drum pattern and aggressive guitars, it always threatens to explode and when it does it is a magnificent wash of noise. 'After the Flood' is an amazing centre-piece at once both intense and glorious, continuously building and with bursts of life thanks to Hollis' passionate vocals. In fact throughout the album Hollis' vocals retain the same immense magnitude whether they soar or are whispered. His lyrics are excellent too, somewhat spiritual which fits the songs perfectly but just vague enough to allow a number of interpretations.

Another thing that always really strikes me about the album is how it manages to be both intensely claustrophobic and stunningly beautiful. Never is this more clear than with 'Taphead' thanks to its distant, eerie guitar strum and Hollis' stumbling vocals which then segues into 'New Grass' which is so overwhelmingly serene its impossible not to float away on the delicate riffs and vocals filled with hope. 'Runeii' ends the album on a quiet note. Long periods of silence are broken by a flowing riff and subdued vocals, making it a downbeat and very fitting finale. The wonderful instrumentation and mesmerising compositions will always allow the album to be timeless, it would be just as easy to believe that it was recorded 20 years ago as it would be to believe that it was recorded 20 years from this point. Which of course fits what I mean when I state that it exists in its own world.

Since its release Laughing Stock, as well as its predecessor Spirit of Eden, has became iconic thanks to its influence on what has come after it. No-one has ever recreated the sound captured by the band during their later period and I doubt anyone will ever be able too. These 6 tracks are a journey, they all have a unique approach or sound yet they also sound like pieces of the same puzzle. Talk Talk's disbanding was very sad for music and it was especially hard to lose such a talent as Mark Hollis, but this is an incredible way to bow out and in a way is the perfect album to depart with.
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on 28 May 2015
My favourite album, containing my favourite song (After the Flood). It was brilliant on its release (I still have my original CD copy) and it remains brilliant. I can't listen to it without it conjuring up the highs and lows of my life for the last quarter century because quite simply it has been with me all the way. As others have said the albums either side of it are also great but for me this is the pick. I would recommend Phil Brown's book 'Are We Still Rolling'. Phil engineered on all 3 of the albums and sets the scene in the studio nicely. It would be great if Mark released more material but with Laughing Stock there is no need to play another note.
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on 24 April 2010
This was Talk Talk's last album, released in 1991. It continues in the neo-classical direction signposted by 1988's Spirit of Eden and takes it even further, possibly to the point of no return. There were rumours of Hollis recording a string section for hours upon end, before only using a few misplaced notes. Not sure if it's true but it paints a picture of a highly unconventional album.

The cover illustration features a striking image of oversized colourful birds on a leafless tree, and there only six tracks on the album, all of which are quite lengthy in duration. The album opens with faint static, before a gingerly strummed electric guitar enters, followed by cello, viola and piano. The song is Myrrhman, and Mark Hollis' voice has never sounded so tortured and desolate yet almost hymnal, with lyrics like `faith one path and the second in fear', whilst being punctuated by bursts of static, and faint trumpets and horns. It's far away from popular music, and the track ends with gentle strings and piano.

The pace picks up with Ascension Day, which features prominent percussion and again a somewhat hesitant guitar before the drums crash in, and it continues for six minutes before ending abruptly. After the Flood drifts in on barely audible piano and organ in a similar vein to the previous track, before a change in pace with Taphead, which is very sparse, Hollis' vocals more delicate than ever before. It's a very tense track, with a middle portion which builds up to a horn led climax, before tailing off with some echoey guitar, bass and organ.

New Grass, the penultimate track is almost like the first shoots of spring after four tracks of winter. An intricate, almost liquid guitar enters accompanied by drums and gentle piano, and Hollis sings `lifted up, reflected in returning love you sing'. The album is a semi-religious experience, never more so than on this track, with its references to `seven sacraments to song versed in Christ' and later `someday Christendom will come', along with beautiful unadorned piano interludes. Not a note is wasted on this one.

The album finishes on a very downbeat note with Runeii, which another very sparse track, gentle ratcheting guitar playing a melody that could almost be random notes, except it resolves itself into a recognisable pattern.

The album sold poorly, and there was silence from Hollis until his self-titled solo album in 1998, after which he has appeared to have retired from music. It's very difficult to write about this somewhat forbidding, almost miserable, yet rewarding album, it almost stands apart in a genre of its own. Despite being in places a fairly sparse album, the music is highly textured and there are layers which have taken me years to discover. If anything, it's close to classical music, perhaps Arvo Part, but that only tells part of the story.
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on 31 December 2012
I have read all amazon reviews on this CD only one criticises with a twist on the title ...I don't profess to be a music expert and I cant put in to words what the average critic manages ..
all I can say is I love most music and I certainly have been around long enough to have heard some truly great music ..this in my opinion is one example ..I don't live in a time warp and I am for ever searching for new music although these tracks were written in the 90s they still cut it for me ..I have to say I was blown away when I first played it and it gets better with every play
how can you listen to New Grass for example and not agree it sends you ?..as an other reviewer has written at this price what have you to lose ...give it a try ..peace
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on 5 January 2013
Anyone who knows Talk talk wont need a review of this album.
Its more experimental and ambient than their early stuff, but none the worse for it.

I bought this to replace my sorn out old copy.
Sadly, it sounds like they used my worn out copy as the master.
The pressing quality, released under the Verve label is terrble

Yes, decent weight vinyl but pops , jumps and noise.

Save your money, buy the CD
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on 18 April 2001
The final Talk Talk album, 'Laughing Stock' shows the other side of their experimental coin. In this slightly more bluesy down to earth record, Hollis has crafted six minimal yet tuneful pieces that relax and uplift the listener. 'Laughing Stock' leaves behind the big budget sound of 'Spirit of Eden' in this fantastic farewell.
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on 23 December 1999
Without doubt one of the best albums I have ever heard. Laughing Stock represents the culmination of Talk Talk's continued musical development throughout the 1980's. The album is almost impossible to categorise, as it contains elements of rock, ambient and jazz instruments and influences. The opening track, Myrrhman, sets the tone perfectly. Mark Hollis' vocals create an atmosphere for the whole album, with minimal instrumentation. This gradually develops into Ascension Day - a complete contrast with bursts of guitar and an impassioned vocal. The whole album is an amzing experience, and although it may require some effort for the uninitiated to become accustomed to it, it is worth persevering. A superb album.
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