David Byrne has always been one of music’s craziest and wackiest artists out there. It comes through in his lyrics and personality. Then he decided to go into the movie business. He created a musical called True Stories
and he couldn’t have made a movie with out a soundtrack. Him and his band, The Talking Heads
, made an album and soundtrack just as unpredictable and impulsive as Byrne is.
It is impossible to classify this album into one or even two genres. The first six tracks have a habit of switching from one genre to a completely different one. The opening track Love For Sale
has a very Classic Punk sound to it. It’s very simplistic and very easy to find yourself singing along to it. There’s a very basic constant drum beat, incredibly fun Ramone
like vocals and an ecstatic power chord guitar part. Much like Love For Sale
, Wild Wild Life
is basically the same thing but they tone down the Classic Punk and turn up an up-beat pop sound. Just when you get used to that enjoyable Classic Punk feel they throw Puzzlin’ Evidence
at you. It has a very Gospel and Soul feel. There are background singers that add immensely to the Gospel feel. This song also features some keyboard that fits perfectly into the song, pouring on to the R&B type feel. Both of those songs are oozing with dynamism and liveliness.
So those two songs are on your plate and they are just swirling with excitement. Then they throw a very relaxing reggae, paradise feeling song. Hey Now
starts off with a very lazy, bubbly guitar riff and gushing with marimba lines. It has a huge contrast with its relaxed feel compared the exhilarating feel that you heard before. The next song has just as much relaxation as Hey Now
. Papa Legba
is a- for lack of better word- seductive Latino mamba. It has very dark and mysterious, Latin jazz drumming and much like Hey Now
this has marimba in the background. In addition to those two components, Byrne starts speaking Spanish at times making it more mystifying.
There are five excellent tracks in a row, but something has to just stop the streak. Radio Head
barges in and it has a polka sound up the wazoo with very annoying vocals and loud disrupting accordion. I don’t know what made them think that this song was alright to put in becuase It is just a big buzz-kill.
So lets put these in order, Classic Punk, Gospel, Reggae, Latin Jazz, Pop then Polka. They go all over the place. Good for them that they can do this but I don’t think that it contributes to the album.
I mentioned somthing in the second paragraph but I need to emphasize this. This is the most fun album that I’ve ever listened to. There isn’t one track where I don’t want to get up and dance. This shows off in Hey Now
the most. As I described it before it is just a slow relaxing reggae song. A downfall of this aspect is that fun usually means an extreme lack of seriousness. How that effects you is completely dependent on your mood. If you’re happy, this is a charm, if you need some serious meditation music, this is as annoying as a two year old crying on an airplane.
As far as the instrumentals go, nothing special. Byrne doesn’t have a fantastic voice, the guitar is better in some places then others, the bass has some good basslines but they mostly just follow the guitar but out of all of these, I think the drums impress me the most. Though most of the time they are just doing amateur beats, Papa Legba
is where the drums really get good. Its not the usual simple beats but rather using a variation of auxiliary percussion such as cowbell, claves and Latin toms. The guitar is either really good or really bad. It’s not too great in Love For Sale
, just doing a repetitive power chord line. In songs like Wild Wild Life
there is some really good clean, arpeggio guitar. Also there is great typical reggae guitar in Hey Now
. Byrne’s voice is never anything to go crazy about but in Dream Operator
his voice is very smooth and beautiful. I’d say that is the only song where his vocals are great. In Radio Head
his vocals are absolutely atrocious. They are very whiney and just very unwanted.
Toward the end of the album there are 3 ballads. Dream Operator
is the best one by far. As I said before, Byrne broadcasts a great voice. The song flows together very nicely. It is a good break from the previous high energetic songs. It has some great piano in the background and some strumming acoustic guitar with a nice bassline. The next song People Like Us
dramatically declines from Dream Operator
. It’s not bad but just extremely average. Byrne’s voice is sub par trying to reach notes that he can’t and a very repetitive guitar part. The last song is basically a carbon copy of People Like Us
, repetitive strumming, poor vocals and extremely repetitive.
This album is very enjoyable. I may have just sounded like I left you on a bad note but this album is really enjoyable. It is a blast to listen to and completely stress free though it’s more satisfying at sometimes than others.
Some good instrumentals
Great variance of genres
Some terrible instrumentals
Love For Sale