Talking Heads
Talking Heads: 77


4.0
excellent

Review

by Daniel Smith USER (21 Reviews)
January 18th, 2011 | 63 replies | 5,836 views


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is a review about a band called Talking Heads.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

“I love talking about nothing,” wrote Oscar Wilde. “It is the only thing I know anything about.” And in fourteen words, the Irish playwright and novelist had condensed the entire discography of Talking Heads to a single witty aphorism. Under the direction of David Byrne, the Heads’ lead prophet of triviality, the New York band seemed to milk these fourteen words vigorously, discovering in the process not just a career but also a healthy understanding of human nature via simplicity. Their 1977 debut, the aptly titled Talking Heads: 77, is a quirky collection of eleven easily-digestible new wave songs that simultaneously unpack nothing and celebrate everything.

In regards to the album’s musical technicality, 77 isn’t anything to marvel at, yet this works to Talking Heads’ advantage. The hooks, catchy though they may be, are elementary in structure, allowing for Byrne’s lunatic vocals to catapult to the record’s forefront without compositional flourishes blocking the way. Bassist Tina Weymouth especially triumphs in this department. Her contributions to “Don’t Worry About the Government,” for instance, are no more complex than what is expected of most junior-high band students, but they are in no way childish. If anything, the restraint demonstrated by Weymouth, percussionist Chris Frantz, and guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison is fundamental to Talking Heads’ aesthetics.

Then there’s David Byrne, whose love of mundanity, of vocal inflection, and of general gobbledygook rages with the superfluity of a kudzu plant, who brilliantly juxtaposes 77’s unadorned instrumentation with his characteristic sense of excess. Ironically, the lyrical fixations that comprise Byrne’s hyperactive delivery aren’t matters of great importance. “I wish I could meet everyone all over again, bring them up to my room,” he fantasizes in “New Feeling,” a song centered on the basic observation that “It’s not yesterday anymore.” And when he’s not musing on happy days, or personifying books (or, perhaps, objectifying people), he’s going off on surreal tangents that make about as much sense as that drinking-out-of-cups video. Call him a madman if you want, but don’t fail to realize one crucial aspect: David Byrne as appears on tape isn’t real. That David Byrne is a character. A ventriloquist dummy in the shape of a human head.

The methods of the living, breathing, and very sane David Byrne are best likened to those of Seinfeld creator Larry David: both route frivolity through their respective artistic mediums for the purpose of touching audiences on a personal level. As down-to-earth as Jerry, as shallow as Elaine, as neurotic as George, and as bizarre as Kramer, Byrne the character embodies the conflicting extremes of the common man, of you. You. His maniacal yelps that conclude “Pulled Up” aren’t his yelps, they’re yours. His realization in “Tentative Decisions,” that women and men speak different languages, is also yours. He’s not making fun of you; well, maybe a little bit. But for the most part, David Byrne is singing in your honor. He loves doing it.

For all its contradictions and inconsistencies, Talking Heads: 77 proves itself a token of clarity from the most humanly inhuman band of all time. Although far from perfect, the album works not unlike the pilot episode for a certain TV show, the genius of which wouldn’t be recognized immediately, nor would it realize fully its own potential until a later time. I think you know quite well what show I’m referring to.

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Without further ado, I'm so very pleased to introduce Talking Heads, a band about nothing.



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4.1
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So begins my quest to review the entire Talking Heads discography.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2011



15000 Comments


this album rules

kanecooper
January 18th 2011



630 Comments


the best band of all time!

AggravatedYeti
January 18th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

kane is probably right.

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

definite top 3 band

kanecooper
January 18th 2011



630 Comments


along with sonic youth and the velvet underground right?

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you know it, bro

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2011



15000 Comments


i swear you guys vu&nico is just too good

anyways good stuff yep yep

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I lied.

'cause nobody really likes Sonic Youth. They only pretend to.
[/controversial opinion]

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2011



15000 Comments


sonic youth are great though so

kanecooper
January 18th 2011



630 Comments


'cause nobody really likes Sonic Youth. They only pretend to.


huh wha

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

jokes, jokes...I dig Daydream Nation, among many other SY albums. I was quoting some bullshit article a friend showed me on facebook.

kanecooper
January 18th 2011



630 Comments


phewww

really thought i was gonna have to kick some ass there

omnipanzer
January 18th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Quotes like that could get a man shot...
/evileye

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/three-bands-everyone-pretends-to-like-more-more-than-they-actually-do/

This Ryan O'Connell dude has real nerve to put down my namesake band, not to mention Radiohead.

omnipanzer
January 18th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

bah, can't get to it.... blocked.

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's basically, like: "you liked Morrissey when you were 16 but you're not 16 anymore so stop pretending and you've probs never listened to a Sonic Youth album all the way through, and Radiohead's just so popular that everybody just HAS to love them, which means you don't really love them either"

So yeah, it's an illogical shitfest.

AggravatedYeti
January 18th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

man that writer is just pissed so many people like bands he's really not all that fond of.

oh no

MUNGOLOID
January 18th 2011



4289 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"So begins my quest to review the entire Talking Heads discography."

good luck with that. band is one my all time favorites.


Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album I'm most looking forward to reviewing in this series is Stop Making Sense. SO GOOD. Great film, too. Talking Heads deserve a lot more attention, in my opinion.



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