I was literally just driving home through the Somerset countryside listening to Colour Of Spring on the CD player. As I reached the first chorus (for want of a better term) of April 5th I found myself with tears in my eyes and an overwhelming urge to cry. I say this without embarrassment or shame as it was through the sheer feeling of joy and belief in something higher than this earthly realm that the music of Mark Hollis and Talk Talk gives me. Not God or anything like that, just...something. Just perfect music in an imperfect world. Hold it close and cherish it. Stunning.
The Spirit of Hollis & Co... I first came upon TT back in the early 80's with the extended version of It's My Life; and then came an album that I listened to obsessively for about a year, nothing else passed by my ears for those twelve months, the album I am talking about is of course The Colour of Spring. Never had I heard something so achingly beautiful, a sorrowful pain exquisitely drawn out on keyboards and weeping distortions of strings and snares; Happiness is Easy bled into I Don't Believe, (my favourite song), that piano rift that never leaves you, Life's What You Make it and onto April 5th and on and on, 45 minutes of artistic expression in a world dominated by shallow noise being passed off and mass produced as being somehow musical. What a dream this album was. The perfect album hardly anyone was listening to. And that voice... That weep of a wail... For years I had no idea what Hollis was saying. His handwriting of the lyrics as inscrutable as his diction-which I love by the way. Poetic, uplifting, tender and all played by lovers of the soul. Buy it! Buy it now!
I make no apology (& never will) for my belief that TT were the greatest band of the 80's, & this quite possibly was the greatest album of that decade, in truth their like has never been seen since. Like Pink Floyd, they are totally unique & this comes from a solid understanding of musicality & soundscape. This, their 3rd release was a yardstick for their achievements, but yet also provided a stepping stone for the 2 following albums. It is a hugely brave album, taking the delicate, but often brooding themes & textures found on It's My Life & working with a more acoustic sound, COS was in many peoples eyes a seminal recording from a decade where the music could get lost amongst the mascara & eye liner. There is nowhere to hide with music like this, so fragile, elegant & yet compelling. The arrangements are full of tiny, but never wasteful or superfluous elements, there always seems something more to hear with each listen. What is important about TT is the music not the people who make it. Largely anonymous, the band members ply their craft with precision & feeling. The introduction of Tim Friese-Greene to the lineup was a genius stroke & his influence in the songs on here is evident. Not one filler of a track. Even the strangely truncated Chameleon Day has a touching reverence to it. Happiness is Easy, the album opener, I Don't Believe in You, April 5th, Give It Up, Time It's Time. The sheer opulence of this work never lets up. The 1st single Life's What You Make It does owe a debt to It's My Life but that's no real criticism. However the stand out track among a collection of gems is Living in Another World. A barnstormer of brilliant proportions, thumping piano, harmonica like Bob Dylan on speed, machine gun percussion & great guitar both electric & acoustic. This is one of those 'fill your boots' tracks that keeps wanting to give. Sure, Mark Hollis' vocals can be indistinct from time to time but each track is more than the sum of its parts, like a picture it needs to be appreciated as a whole. A listening experience that will keep you coming back time after time. It may be from the 80's but unlike much of that decades musical output COS never sounds dated, in fact it's a great shame that this group had such a short career, but what a legacy they left, culminating in this fantastic album. Like I mentioned, you need to be very brave to pull off an album of this structure & quality. Testament to the genius of Mark Hollis & the band, it couldn't happen now, at least not commercially. Record companies would have a fit if they got presented this today. But seriously it is beautiful music, touching, heartfelt & wonderfully written & played. Superlatives don't exist to describe how good.
This is a simply terrific album that will forever remain in my top ten albums. It is such an advance on its predecessors, representing a stage of transition from the 80s pop of their earlier albums to the neo-prog of 'Spirit of Eden'. Messrs Friese-Green and Hollis had yet to sink into the all encompassing melancholy that became increasingly evident in 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock', and which became enough to make you suicidal on the 'Mark Hollis' solo album and the first 'Heligoland' (Tim Friese-Green) album. Sure, there is melancholy here alright, but this is leavened by uplifting songs and arrangements, with rich textures being built into the performances, and instruments used that most rock bands wouldn't bother with, including (I believe) a stand up bass. 'Happiness is Easy' (****) is one of the few examples I can think by any band of where a (slightly discordant) children's chorus adds significantly to a track. 'I Don't Believe in You' (*****) builds really effectively, with a beautiful and emotional vocal performance allied to insistent bass and equally effective guitar. 'Life's What You Make It' (*****) will be familiar to most with its driving beat and catchy guitar figure - unusually 'up' for them. 'April 5th' (***) is a signpost to where they would head with 'Laughing Stock'. "Living in Another World' (*****) sounds almost 'bluesy', with some very nice mouth organ. 'Give it Up' (****) is slightly mellower. 'Chameleon Day' (***) is of similar mood to 'April 5th'. The album finishes with another fantastic track, 'Time its Time' (*****), that again builds really effectively, and features innovative instrumentation and arrangements with a 'chorus' of recorders taking over towards the end.
In summary this is, I believe, their best album by a small margin from 'Spirit of Eden'. It represents Tim Friese-Green and Mark Hollis at the very top of their game.
One of the best albums ever composed. That is what Talk Talk's Colour Of Spring will always be to me. One of the best 10 albums among the 5,000 I have kept. You have to listen to it a few times (7 is a good number) before you quite get there but I can assure you, no matter what is your musical background, you can get to love this music. It is melodic and uplifting, acoustic and atmospheric, peaceful and perfect.
Happiness Is Easy is a perfect song to listen to on Sunday morning around 10 am, if you are at home or alone and feel like surrounding your spirit with harmony. Stay within this song for a while. Although Mark's lyrics leave it a bit open as far as his take on things the feeling this song will place upon you...leaves no doubts. This is one of the most spiritually uplifting songs in rock music. The choir of Children From The School Of Miss Speake is a great addition to this song. I find it more special than the choir in Jerusalem by Vangelis of even Mike Oldfield's work, and the only song I know which exceeds the power of a similar expression is Jan Garbarek's We Are The Stars. The Colour Of Spring is a very exceptional album in terms of talent it brought together. There are 16 musicians and 2 choirs involved here and none of the songs were recorded by the same line up. Happiness Is Easy, for instance, has 10 musicians playing and a choir singing, and the instruments involve drums, 3 sets (and players) of percussion, acoustic bass, electric bass, organ, piano, guitar and effects. Steve Winwood plays organ here and on 2 other songs. I Don't Believe In You is another great song and we have an addition of harp and soprano saxophone here. This spectacular orchestration of this music is what makes it such an unique rock album. Here Mark's words could be directed towards all of us or he could be addressing himself, but no matter how he says it, the spirituality of the music is enormous. Life's What You Make It takes us to the song April 5th which relates more towards Mark's future music. More withdrawn and abstract. The lyrics of April 5th, directed towards spring, are a perfect study of his poetic style. `Let me breathe the colour of spring'...the way he sings his words at the end of this song, by almost breathing them back and forth and distorting the voice to complement the guitar sounds and adding texture to the ambience of our experience is truly amazing. The total instrumentation of this song consists of Mark's voice, soprano saxophone, 2 variophons, organ, piano and dobro. This is the atmosphere building at its best which David Sylvian excels at as well. Living In Another World is a completely different song in terms of rhythm and texture but lyrically...all doors still were left open. Mark's lyrics keep on asking us over and over to work out the details of his poetic tales...on our own. Perhaps the following song, Give It Up is a little more direct, towards all of us again. The music of Chameleon Day again takes us to Mark's future and the atmosphere of his later work. It is limited to his vocal, piano and 2 viriophones. It becomes a great moment of peace before the most powerful moment of this album, to me. The music is more beautiful than ever and the Ambrosia Choir this time adds layers to the texture which is upon us. Time It's Time summarizes the message of Colour Of Spring and is a bit more direct...'love is only sleeping wrapped in neglect'; `contempt is ever breeding trapped in itself'; `the wicked and the weeping ramble or run'; and so, `time it's time to live for living' and we are so fortunate to have this beloved album to help us along...
The Colour Of Spring was just such an awesome stage of a beautiful progression of Mark Hollis' complete musical development and statement. And yes, all of us sometimes wish that more great albums similar to the ones we consider our jewels would be left behind by artists we love. It is often impossible for them and Mark Hollis happens to be the monument to this statement. This phantastic album at hand is the only message he wanted to express in this unique way. Which songs are best? Again, my favorite ones are Time It's Time, Happiness is Easy, I Don't Believe in You, April 5th, and Living in Another World. What a magnificent album this is. Thank you Mark and all of you who have contributed to the release of this music.
Just one of the greatest albums ever, I come back to it again and again and each time I hear something new. Mark Hollis is a genius and I think this is his masterpiece. This unique album has been part of my life for longer than I can remember. I would recommend it to anybody who loves music, no matter what the genre.
An intriguing, pop turns avant-garde outing from Talk Talk. Great effort has been taken to create a fairly sparse texture of a handful of quirky, and beautifully crafted instrumental lines, supporting simple vocals. The drums are gripping and there is effective use of children's choirs, and melancholy solo trumpets. Am I putting you off with talk of choirs and quirkiness ? - please don't be, because this is a wonderful album, one to put on loud in the early evening and savour to the last. An added bonus is that this particular album regularly appears on audiophile lists of their best recorded albums ever. Put it on a good turntable (or good CD player now that it has been re-mastered & reissued on CD as well), give it amplification with punch and dynamics, and it will absolutely enthral - transients are whipcrack, detail and soundstaging are there in bucketloads. Buy this, then buy spirit of eden, & work back to it's my life for something more recognisably commercial. It's all wonderful music.