Sunday, 9 July 2017

talking heads : remain in light
talking heads
remain in light
sire records (1980)
srk 6095 npc

This is a tape produced for the Spanish market which I bought at a car boot sale 5 or 6 years ago. Although the J-card and the tape itself have seen better days it's still in fine condition and plays perfectly well. Remain In Light has always been my favourite Talking Heads album and I still have my original vinyl copy. Released in October 1980 during a period of high unemployment in the UK; the Thatcher era had seen the recession got worse and the introduction of cash limits on public spending, and reduced expenditure on social services such as education and housing were the order of the day. The usual Tory policies still used today by the utterly dreadful Theresa May and her ilk who are doing their utmost to destroy the NHS as well. That year too the Yorkshire Ripper (Peter Sutcliffe) still hadn't been caught, Ronald Reagan was about to become president of the USA; Ian Curtis (Joy Division) had hanged himself in May of the same year, and, only a couple of months after the album's release, John Lennon would be gunned down as he left the Dakota building in Mahattan . Not exactly a fun year but I imagine that, if you look back, every year has ups and downs. 1980 was after all the year that the Rubik's Cube first appeared.

When punk first started I was never really into any of the bands that started a whole new musical movement in '76 & '77. Having been a fan of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Neil Young, Patti Smith and even Pink Floyd (whom I still like) during the 70s I never really bought into the whole amateurish shambles that a lot of the bands were trying to flog. I was looking for decent bands with good music; something less abrasive than what most of punk had to offer. Most of it passed over my head apart from bands like The Buzzcocks, The Clash, and, of course, The Sex Pistols. Post-punk was a much better period music-wise. A lot of bands that had started in the short punk era or even before had so much more to offer. Bands like Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division, Magazine, Gang of Four, PIL, This Heat, The Pop Group among others whose recordings have stood the test of time and are just as good today as they were then.

On the American front bands like The New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, without or with the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids weren't really my cup of tea either. On the other hand there were three bands -four if you include Patti Smith whose career had taken off before punk- that were really good; Television (whom Richard Hell had left before their groundbreaking Marquee Moon album had been released), The Ramones, and Talking Heads.

The Ramones' loud, fast, up front, in your face musical style were fun but is was bands like Television and especially Talking Heads that were much more in my line.
Over a short period of time (1977 -1980), and in my mind, Talking Heads made their best recordings. Four really good albums -three of them collaborations with the mighty Brian Eno- which culminated with the release of their 4th studio album, Remain In Light. Album, which, in my opinion, is their best and one which sounds as good today as it did back then. Their art rock, funk, world music and avant-garde style makes almost every track on it is outstanding; the Once In A Lifetime track (also released as a single) is the one I like least on an album which in my books gets a 9/10 rating.

Of course, Brian Eno played a big part in its success by getting the group to "experiment with African polyrhythms, funk, and electronics." By "recording instrumental tracks as a series of sampled and looped grooves, which were an innovative technique at the time." (Source: Wikipedia)

Remain In Light would, unfortunately, be the last of the band's collaborations with Eno; who would team up with Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts which was released the following year.Their career continued with members going off on various side projects for a while before getting together again, but anything they did as a band after Remain In Light was never as good.

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