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The 10 Best Talking Heads Deep Cuts [Deep Cuts Week]

I’m wrapping up this Deep Cuts Week with an incredible band, Talking Heads. They have been one of my favorites since forever, and the more time I spend listening to them, the more I respect, appreciate and enjoy their awesome music.

Dissecting this band’s impressive catalogue is no easy task, so I once again called in artillery support from the highly knowledgeable DJ Walls of Sound.

Let’s start with the story of Talking Heads, and quickly move on to the outstanding music.

David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth attended the Rhode Island School of Design together, and after graduation and the breakup of a band that Byrne and Frantz were in called The Artistics, they all moved to New York to seek their fortune. Byrne and Frantz tried to find a good bassist but came up empty, so they persuaded Weymouth — Frantz’ girlfriend, now wife — to pick up the instrument. It wasn’t long before she ruled at it.

Their first gig was opening for the Ramones at CBGB. Their unique style, clever name and Byrne’s amazing songs quickly became popular, and they were battle-tested by regularly playing bills that included such great bands as Television and Blondie. The band got even better when David Byrne ran into Jonathan Richman and found out that the original lineup of the Modern Lovers had split up; Byrne & co. quickly tracked down keyboardist & guitarist Jerry Harrison and signed him up to be the band’s fourth member.

After recording the post-punk classic 77, Talking Heads took a huge leap forward when they began working with producer Brian Eno, who challenged Byrne to step outside himself and create otherworldly compositions, while encouraging and augmenting the musicians in the creation of incredible grooves and rhythmic masterpieces. Two increasingly massive albums followed: More Songs About Buildings and Food and Fear of Music.

At that point, the band teetered a bit — the other band members, Weymouth in particular, chafed under Byrne’s controlling leadership. Frantz held the band together, though, and eventually summoned everyone to the Bahamas to record the next album. Eno came along begrudgingly, thinking the band might have stalled out, but soon found that they had expanded on the ideas in the song “I Zimbra,” the last recording done for Fear of Music, and crossed over into a new terrain of sonic ideas. A crew that included everyone from guitar wizard Adrian Belew to camp-follower Robert “Addicted to Love” Palmer (they let him play some percussion) created Remain in Light, the band’s best album. Quite possibly, the human race’s best album.

Talking Heads went on to make many great songs and videos, the best concert film ever (Stop Making Sense), a passel of other hits like “Burning Down the House” and “And She Was,” and establish themselves as first-ballot rock Hall of Famers (I mean that literally, they were inducted in the first year they were eligible). Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth played a key role in the early stages of hip-hop; he drummed on “The Breaks” and her “Genius of Love” groove was one of the most-sampled songs ever. Jerry Harrison is one of the few people who can say that he changed music as part of two different bands, playing on both the Modern Lovers’ hugely influential debut and all the Talking Heads classics.

And David Byrne? Just one of the preeminent geniuses of modern times.

For their many great songs, their classic albums, their outstanding album covers and videos, and the astonishingly good live bands they put together — Talking Heads are the best ever. Read more of this post

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