Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (1983) – Lp
Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison.
Artist: Talking Heads
Title: Speaking In Tongues
Label: Sire Records
Former art school students who became involved in the 1970s New York punk scene,
Talking Heads integrated elements of punk, art rock, funk, dance, and world music with avant-garde sensibilities and the anxious stage persona of singer Byrne, helping to pioneer new wave music.
The group produced several commercial hits and a number of multimedia projects throughout its career, and often collaborated with other artists, such as musician Brian Eno and director Jonathan Demme.
Talking Heads found a way to open up the dense textures of the music they had developed with Brian Eno on their two previous studio albums for Speaking in Tongues, and were rewarded with their most popular album yet.
Ten backup singers and musicians accompanied the original quartet, but somehow the sound was more spacious, and the music admitted aspects of gospel, notably in the call-and-response of “Slippery People,” and John Lee Hooker-style blues, on “Swamp.” As usual, David Byrne determinedly sang and chanted impressionistic, nonlinear lyrics, sometimes by mix-and-matching clichés (“No visible means of support and you have not seen nothin’ yet,” he declared on “Burning Down the House,” the Heads‘ first Top Ten hit), and the songs’ very lack of clear meaning was itself a lyrical subject. “Still don’t make no sense,” Byrne admitted in “Making Flippy Floppy,” but by the next song, “Girlfriend Is Better,” that had become an order — “Stop making sense,” he chanted over and over. Some of his charming goofiness had returned since the overly serious Remain in Light and Fear of Music, however, and the accompanying music, filled with odd percussive and synthesizer sounds, could be unusually light and bouncy.
The album closer, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” even sounded hopeful. Well, sort of. Despite their formal power, Talking Heads‘ preceding two albums seemed to have painted them into a corner, which may be why it took them three years to craft a follow-up, but on Speaking in Tongues, they found an open window and flew out of it.
In 1989 the album was ranked #54 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 best albums of the 1980s”. In 2012 Slant Magazine listed the album at #89 on its list of “Best Albums of the 1980s”.
David Byrne designed the cover for the general release of the album. Artist Robert Rauschenberg won a Grammy Award for his work on the limited-edition LP version. This album featured a clear vinyl disc in clear plastic packaging along with three clear plastic discs printed with similar collages in three different colors.
1. Burning Down the House (4:00)
2. Making Flippy Floppy (4:36)
3. Girlfriend Is Better (4:25)
4. Slippery People (3:30)
5. I Get Wild/Wild Gravity (4:06)
1. Swamp (5:09)
2. Moon Rocks (5:04)
3. Pull Up the Roots (5:08)
4. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (4:56)