Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The island of doubt, it's like the taste of medicine

I hinted yesterday at some old classics being spun here at Cole Towers. Specifically, I was referring to a brace of Talking Heads long players that exist in vinyl format ‘ome ‘ere but not, until last week, as what boffins, ICT professionals and Tomorrow’s World presenters call ‘MP3s’. My favoured albums by the aforementioned art-rock collective are Remain In Light and Fear Of Music. If held in a Half-Nelson* by someone nasty, I’d admit to the former being my favourite but both recordings are packed with sublime moments and wondrous songs. Every schoolboy will know Once in a Lifetime from Remain in Light but, lo!, there is so much more to admire here. Wi’ wizard Brian Eno at da controls, the crossover between post-punk earnestness and riddimic African bliss casts a mesmerising spell over the lucky listener. Funky beasts like the soaring Houses in Motion, Born Under Punches and Crosseyed and Painless swagger insouciantly, da riddim section of Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz underpinning gloriously clever musical mayhem. The closing track, The Overload, is the band’s homage to Joy Division, written in the style of the Mancunian four-piece before, astonishingly, any of those Talking Heads had actually heard anything by Curtis, Hook et al. It’s a remarkable track from a remarkable album. Fear Of Music was released in 1979, a year before Remain In Light. It’s a more abrasive listen, less spacious, more angular. There’s more than a hint of paranoia and disturbance in David Byrne’s lyrics and titles and the whole album is a challenging and disturbing glimpse into troubled thoughts, although the beatific Heaven is proffered as a sublime antidote to the uncompromising scratchiness that dominates proceedings. Talking Heads make art.

*Other wrestling holds are available.

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