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"The Talking Heads"   Bookmark and Share

The Talking Heads. (2002, October 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:10, January 20, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Talking_Heads&oldid=16003092

Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1974 in New York City[1] and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison. Auxiliary musicians also frequently made appearances in concert and on the group's albums.

The new wave musical style of Talking Heads combined elements of punk rock, avant-garde, pop, funk, world music and art rock. Frontman and songwriter David Byrne contributed whimsical, esoteric lyrics to the band's songs, and emphasized their showmanship through various multimedia projects and performances. Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes Talking Heads as being "one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '80s, while managing to earn several pop hits."[2]

In 2002, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Four of the band's albums appeared on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and the Channel 4 100 Greatest Albums poll listed one album (Fear of Music) at number 76. Their concert film Stop Making Sense is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the genre.[3]

David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth were alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. There Byrne and Frantz formed a band called "The Artistics" in 1974.[4] Weymouth was Frantz's girlfriend and often provided the band with transportation. The Artistics dissolved within a year and the three moved to New York eventually sharing a flat. Unable to find a bass player in New York City it was at that time Frantz encouraged Weymouth to learn to play bass.[5] They played their first gig by the "Talking Heads" moniker opening for the Ramones at the legendary CBGB club June 8, 1975.[1]

In an interview, Weymouth recalled how the group chose the name Talking Heads: "A friend had found the name in the TV Guide, which explained the term used by TV studios to describe a head-and-shoulder shot of a person talking as 'all content, no action.' It fit."[6]

In 1976, they added Jerry Harrison (guitar, keyboards, vocals), formerly of Jonathan Richman's band The Modern Lovers. The group quickly drew a following and was signed to Sire Records in 1977. The group released their first single, "Love â†' Building on Fire" in February of that year.

Their first album, Talking Heads: 77 was released soon afterward and did not contain the earlier single.

It was with their second album, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food that the band began its long-term collaboration with producer Brian Eno, who had previously worked with Roxy Music, David Bowie and Robert Fripp. In fact, Eno's 1977 song "King's Lead Hat" is an anagram of the band's name. Eno's unusual style meshed well with the group's artistic sensibilities, and they gained the confidence to explore in a wide variety of musical directions.[citation needed] Though the first album's "Psycho Killer" had been a minor hit, it was More Songs' cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" that broke Talking Heads into general public consciousness.

The experimentation continued with 1979's Fear of Music, which flirted with the darker stylings of post-punk rock.[citation needed] The single "Life During Wartime" produced the catchphrase, "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco." 1980's Remain in Light, heavily influenced by the Afro-Beat of Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti, to whose music Eno had introduced the band, explored African polyrhythms, foreshadowing Byrne's later interest in world music. In order to perform these more complex arrangements the band toured with an expanded group, first at the Heatwave festival in August, and later in their concert film Stop Making Sense. During this period, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz also formed a splinter group, the Tom Tom Club, and Harrison released his first solo record. All were published by Sire.

The Remain in Light album's lead single, "Once in a Lifetime", failed to make an impression upon its release in the band's own country (however, it became a Top 20 hit in the UK), but grew into a popular standard over the next few years on the back of its music video.

After releasing four albums in barely four years, the group went into hiatus and waited nearly three years before releasing another, although Frantz and Weymouth continued to record with the Tom Tom Club. In the meantime, Talking Heads released a live album, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads, toured the US and Europe as an eight-piece group, and parted ways with Eno, who went on to produce albums with U2.

1983 saw the release of Speaking in Tongues, a commercial breakthrough that produced the band's first American Top 10 hit, "Burning Down the House". Once again, a striking video was inescapable owing to its heavy rotation on MTV. The following tour was documented in Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense, which generated another live album of the same name. The Speaking in Tongues tour would be their last.

Three more albums followed: 1985's Little Creatures (which featured the prominent hit singles "And She Was" and "Road to Nowhere"), 1986's True Stories (Talking Heads covering all the soundtrack songs of Byrne's musical comedy film, in which the band also appeared), and 1988's Naked. The sound of Little Creatures and True Stories was much more American pop-rock, while Naked showed heavy African influence with polyrhythmic styles like those seen on Remain in Light. During that time the group was falling increasingly under David Byrne's control[citation needed], and after Naked the band went on "hiatus".

It took until 1991 for an official announcement to be made that Talking Heads had broken up. A brief reunion occurred, however, later that year for "Sax and Violins," an original single that appeared on the soundtrack to Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World. Only Byrne and Harrison appear in the song's video, however, lending doubt to Frantz and Weymouth's participation on the track. During this breakup period, Byrne continued his solo career, releasing Rei Momo in 1989 and The Forest in 1991. This period also saw a revived flourish from both Tom Tom Club (Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom and Dark Sneak Love Action) and Harrison (the Casual Gods album/band).

Despite David Byrne's lack of interest in another album, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, and Jerry Harrison reunited for a one-off album called No Talking, Just Head under the name The Heads in 1996. The album featured a number of vocalists, representing some of the most distinctive voices of '80s and '90s alternative rock, including Debbie Harry of Blondie, Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, Andy Partridge of XTC, Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes, Michael Hutchence of INXS, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays, Richard Hell, and Maria McKee. The album was accompanied by a tour which featured Johnette Napolitano as the vocalist.

Byrne has continued his solo career, while Harrison has become a producer of some note "" the latter's résumé includes the Violent Femmes' The Blind Leading the Naked, the Fine Young Cannibals' The Raw and the Cooked, General Public's Rub It Better, Crash Test Dummies' God Shuffled His Feet, Live's Throwing Copper, No Doubt's song "New" from Return of Saturn, and most recently work by The Black and White Years and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Frantz and Weymouth, who were married in 1977, had been recording on the side as Tom Tom Club since 1981. Tom Tom Club's self-titled debut album sold almost as well as Talking Heads themselves, leading to the band appearing in Stop Making Sense. They achieved several pop/rap hits, particularly in the UK. Their single "Genius of Love" has been sampled numerous times, notably on old school hip hop classic "It's Nasty (Genius of Love)" by Grandmaster Flash and on Mariah Carey's 1995 hit "Fantasy". They also have produced several artists, including Happy Mondays and Ziggy Marley. The Tom Tom Club has continued to record intermittently until 2008.

The band played together on March 18, 2002 at the ceremony of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, however reuniting for a concert tour is unlikely. David Byrne states: "We did have a lot of bad blood go down. That's one reason, and another is that musically we're just miles apart."[7] Weymouth has been critical of David Byrne, describing him as "a man incapable of returning friendship"[8] and that he doesn't "love" Frantz, Harrison and herself.[9] However, on New Year's of 2008-2009 at FTC Stage One, a small venue in Fairfield, CT, drummer Chris Frantz and Bassist Tina Weymouth, did join Funk-Jam Band Deep Banana Blackout, another Fairfield native band, on the song "Take Me to the River", which was the last song of the first set and would be the last song Deep Banana Blackout played in 2008.

Talking Heads have been cited as influences by many artists, including Kate Bush [10] and Trent Reznor, who has cited Remain in Light as one of his favorite albums of all time.[11] and who was inspired by the flipped and backwards lettering on the Remain in Light cover when designing the logo for his band Nine Inch Nails.

The band Radiohead took their name from the Talking Heads song "Radio Head" from the 1986 album True Stories.[12][13]

Their songs have been widely featured in film soundtracks.

The Talking Heads. (2002, October 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:10, January 20, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Talking_Heads&oldid=16003092

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