Talking Heads '77: Classic or Dud?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I put it on last week and it seemed so offensively fruity that I had to take it off after 2.5 tracks.

sundar subramanian, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

TOTAL CLASSIC. BENCHMARK in human creativity.

Mike Hanle y, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

mike you have great taste in music.

ethan, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I agree with Mr. Hanle y.

Dan, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I've heard of this band. The end.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Sundar, I'm afraid I'm rubbed this way by said band at times... I do like 'Fear of Music,' though, but sometimes they feel so weak.

Clarke B., Friday, 26 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I like the lyrics. "Don't Worry About the Government", there should be more songs like that.

dave q, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

The fruitiness is one of their main charms. It perhaps doesn't offer as much charm on this album as it does on Fear of Music or Remain in Light, but that's because their music needs the break-danceability for full effect, in most cases.

David, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Their first two albums are pretty much unbearable but in an interesting way ("Fruitiness" sums it up). Their third and fourth albums are pretty much genius, and then after that they're unbearable in an uninteresting way.

Tom, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

It twists and turns and still surprises me. It's so supple and agile.

This and Fear of Music are the two Heads albums I still put on, and can actually handle from start to finish. Otherwise, you have to be very selective.

Daniel, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

real dream, 10.27.01 (spooky):

interviewing david byrne (who is conspicuously younger in this "present" than he should be by all rights); after initial introductory remarks, i begin to ask him about the production of (my two - only - favorite heads' albums,) "fear of music" and "remain in light," as well as "my life in the bush of ghosts." david wants to talk about his "new" music, but i'm having none of it. i then mention that i'm struck by how much "the overload" sounds like a homage to joy division, but, although they're my favorite band (which -is- true) i like it better than any of their work (which -isnt-.) he mumbles something about "fey limey crap" and "that was all jerry anyway" and is cold and salty for the rest of the proceedings.

jess, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Why y'all bagging on 'More Songs'? "I'm Not in Love" and "Found a Job" are anything but 'fruity'! That bit where the guitars slash out a different chord for every syllable ("They've-en-list-ed-all-their- friends"), that kills me!

dave q, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Classic, classic. "Pulled Up" is clearly the greatest song of all time. The howls and screams are more 'soul' than 'fruit'. IMO Fear of Music is one of their least great albums. (Yeah, you heard me.)

Keiko, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

'The book I read was in your eyes'>'IT'S OVER THERE, IT'S OVER THERE'>I like it

, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Katie put this on tonight when we were all quite pissed and the only real effect it had was to make me want to replace it with Fear Of Music or The Modern Dance. It's kind of blah, but with an irritating X-factor.

RickyT, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

They are a great band, damn it. All the above albums are good. Really interesting to have heard all that stuff as a child and think, "this guy annoys me and he is odd" and then grow up to go, "Ohhhh, I get it" and carefully read the entire lyrics sheet. So much sound and where did it all come from? I'd like to hear the Talking Heads influences and see if they sounded anything alike.

Nude Spock, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

"Don't Worry About the Government" is the one where D. Byrne sings so joyously about his house, his job, his "loved ones," etc, right? God, that song is brilliant. I understand calling them "fruity," especially this song, but it's also really fucking creepy in a way that, say, "Psycho Killer" just isn't. Can't put my finger on why this song is so perfect... Once I was really drunk and I told my friend that if the world was destroyed in a nuclear war and some aliens came to the ruins of earth and found a copy of this song, they would be able to reconstruct western civilization based on the information contained within. Now that I'm sober, I'm not sure I buy it, but I was really convinced at the time.

Anyways, the album itself I can take or leave, but that song is utterly CLASSIC...

Utterly.

Matthew Cohen, Saturday, 27 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I think it's their best album.

Sean, Sunday, 28 October 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

four years pass...
I have started listening to it, on vinyl, for the first time!

I will probably Report Back with my views on it, if any emerge.

I will also read the thread and see what others think.

the pinefox, Monday, 31 October 2005 13:42 (sixteen years ago) link

do you mean you've never heard it at all, or just never on vinyl? i like this record, i'm shocked at tom's response. i think 'more songs...' is even better, and 'fear of music' even better again, but i'd almost take 'speaking in tongues' over 'remain in light'.

Theorry Henry (Enrique), Monday, 31 October 2005 13:50 (sixteen years ago) link

I bought it on vinyl perhaps 12 years ago, but I think I may never have played it till now.

I agree, Speaking in Tongues is a contender for the talking top of the head pops.

the pinefox, Monday, 31 October 2005 13:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Confounded (Confounded), Monday, 31 October 2005 16:33 (sixteen years ago) link

"Uh Oh, Love Comes To Town" is a great unrecognized TH classic.

That said, I was just making a mix CD for a friend, took this CD out, and couldn't really find anything that could go on a mix. I think these songs do not play well with others. That's not a bad thing.

Guayaquil (eephus), Monday, 31 October 2005 17:39 (sixteen years ago) link

Who the fuck was Malin Annetag on that Heads album? That was about the only track that I liked on there, though the Richard Hell and Andy Partrige tracks were OK. I remember really liking it when it came out, but I think I was in such a Talking Heads phase that I was even going deep into the Harrison solo catalog...

js (honestengine), Monday, 31 October 2005 18:50 (sixteen years ago) link

[Malin Anneteg]

Confounded (Confounded), Monday, 31 October 2005 18:59 (sixteen years ago) link

C to the 77th power. One of the most startling, original, quirky and (yes, occasionally) fruity first LPs ever. Mix ideas: Beefheart, Sparks, Roxy Music, Deaf School, B-52's, Devo, Pere Ubu, XTC, Slits...

Daniel Peterson (polkaholic), Monday, 31 October 2005 19:03 (sixteen years ago) link

sixteen years pass...

45 years old today (…how old does that make me?? /cliche)

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Friday, 16 September 2022 15:51 (two weeks ago) link

xpost to the posters at the top of the thread from 20+ years ago, "fruity" sounds bad but not sure what it's meant to convey about the music.

that's not my post, Friday, 16 September 2022 16:23 (two weeks ago) link

I like the record now! We were listening to it not that long ago.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Friday, 16 September 2022 16:37 (two weeks ago) link

I probably wouldn't use the term that way now, esp on a public forum, but is it really hard to see why someone would have described this as fruity? I don't find the quality so off-putting now, though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-ppDhqujro

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Friday, 16 September 2022 16:41 (two weeks ago) link

I do see that "fruity" has a homophobic connotation so I'll belatedly apologize for that. It was a reaction to the goofy, wimpy persona, which, like I said, doesn't bother me now, and which I don't think I meant to connect to actual gay people or the gay community.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Friday, 16 September 2022 16:52 (two weeks ago) link

how's your mousse

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 16 September 2022 16:53 (two weeks ago) link

77 is definitely the goofiest of their classic period albums, there are some comedic/light-hearted arrangement choices on this album that pretty much disappear by Buildings and Food, so I know what you were going for there two decades ago

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Friday, 16 September 2022 16:59 (two weeks ago) link

Offensively Fruity *is* the new album by Lil Nas X. Preorder your copy now!

big movers, hot steppers + long shaker intros (breastcrawl), Friday, 16 September 2022 17:32 (two weeks ago) link

Haha

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Friday, 16 September 2022 17:44 (two weeks ago) link

I actually think it's a good word apart from the insulting connotation, which is maybe so out of date it rubs me less wrong now than it would 20 years ago. 77 is lyrically and musically twee, wimpy, reflective; but also a bit sugary-sweet and reluctant to be engagingly tough ("rock and roll") except for the faster sections of the big statement songs near the end of each side (no compassion and psycho killer). It is not meaty, certainly. I've always felt this album was a let-down, as I think the run from More Songs through Stop Making Sense were so important to me. David had some much better songs from the 76 CBS demo that he maybe felt weren't right for the record like Angel, I'm Not In Love and Warning Sign.

I can kind of sense what they were trying to do in the context of the CBGB records to come (Marquee, Blank Generation) that were also attempts to not sound too Ramonesy/Stoogesy on the one hand - not as abrasive on record as they were live - and go for a more angular sound, but I think the record is just a little to friendly, too ingratiating for me. The live versions on Name of this Band are usually more engaging to me, too. I guess after Stop Making Sense I felt the band returned to that more naive style with Little Creatures. A fruity/be fruitful heterosexual domesticity to that one that turned me off.

mig (guess that dreams always end), Friday, 16 September 2022 18:00 (two weeks ago) link

talking heads did cover this 1910 Fruitgum Company song in the early days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkbfcgMUzG8

tylerw, Friday, 16 September 2022 18:05 (two weeks ago) link

The live versions on Name of this Band are usually more engaging to me

Same here, I only listen to the '77 songs through the Name of this Band lens. Maybe that's why I was surprised by the fruity description. The NOFB versions aren't too twee.

that's not my post, Friday, 16 September 2022 18:33 (two weeks ago) link

77 and Fear Of Music are my favourite Talking Heads' albums

Buckfast At Tiffany's (Tom D.), Friday, 16 September 2022 18:46 (two weeks ago) link

77 and Fear Of Music are my favourite Talking Heads' albums

Buckfast At Tiffany's (Tom D.), Friday, 16 September 2022 18:47 (two weeks ago) link

Oops

Buckfast At Tiffany's (Tom D.), Friday, 16 September 2022 18:49 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, mine too... though More Songs is in there pretty tight as well.

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Friday, 16 September 2022 18:56 (two weeks ago) link

Don’t sleep on Positive Touch though.

Ride On Proserpina (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 16 September 2022 19:01 (two weeks ago) link

I love the performances of the 77 songs on Name of This Band, too, but don’t think 77 would have been as special an album if it had been recorded in that style. Just my two cents

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Friday, 16 September 2022 19:49 (two weeks ago) link

I had the hardest time tracking down a copy of 77 in the early oughts. For some reason nobody stocked it, just their third and fourth records, Stop Making Sense, and numerous hits collections.

Anyway, total classic. I do prefer Buildings and Food, but 77 is still incredible. The wackiness is what speaks to me! Uh-Oh and Psycho Killer are canon.

The Ghost Club, Friday, 16 September 2022 20:01 (two weeks ago) link

Christgau's take:

A debut LP will often seem overrefined to habitues of a band's scene, so it's not surprising that many CBGBites felt betrayed when bits of this came out sounding like Sparks or Yes. Personally, I was even more put off by lyrics that fleshed out the Heads' post-Jonathan Richman, so-hip-we're-straight image; when David Byrne says "don't worry about the government," the irony is that he's not being ironic. But the more I listen the more I believe the Heads set themselves the task of hurdling such limitations, and succeed. Like Sparks, these are spoiled kids, but without the callowness or adolescent misogyny; like Yes, they are wimps, but without vagueness or cheap romanticism. Every tinkling harmony is righted with a screech, every self-help homily contextualized dramatically, so that in the end the record proves not only that the detachment of craft can coexist with a frightening intensity of feeling--something most artists know--but that the most inarticulate rage can be rationalized. Which means they're punks after all. A-

Is there one moment on this record that sounds like Yes? On songs like "Don't Worry", is Byrne being ironic, or "ironic about not being ironic"? What's the difference between the lighter-hearted moments on this record and those on Little Creatures or Uh-Oh? What did Byrne take from Ray Davies and Randy Newman in terms of writing "character songs"?

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 17 September 2022 16:14 (two weeks ago) link

The thinness of its mix combined with Bongiovi's ideas for commercial airplay make their weirdest album.

It could be Carpenters album.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 September 2022 16:17 (two weeks ago) link

That’s a fairly good Xgau blurb (even though I don’t quite get why “wimp” has come up twice now… is it really “wimpy”? Because they don’t rock out?)

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Saturday, 17 September 2022 16:43 (two weeks ago) link

my most mind-splitting talking heads experience was when my college friend dragged me down to cbgb to see them in what turned out to be probably one of their last performances as a trio. '77 gets closest to that, so it's my favorite. david byrne is a sponge for ideas, so all the successive albums to me sound like him plus someone else. which is fine. but '77 and that first single are undiluted.

Thus Sang Freud, Saturday, 17 September 2022 16:47 (two weeks ago) link

"wimps" was more their image, with the pressed white shirt buttoned up to the top and the nice slacks and the respectable haircut.

Thus Sang Freud, Saturday, 17 September 2022 16:54 (two weeks ago) link

What did Byrne take from Ray Davies and Randy Newman in terms of writing "character songs"?

In the liners to Sand In The Vaseline, Byrne said that "Psycho Killer" was 'Randy Newman doing Alice Cooper' (or vice versa? I forget).

an icon of a worried-looking, long-haired, bespectacled man (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 17 September 2022 17:00 (two weeks ago) link

talking heads did cover this 1910 Fruitgum Company song in the early days.

I just looked back at the original Rolling Stone Record Guide review of their first two albums, and Billy Altman also makes the connection:

https://i.imgur.com/aJsdnS7_d.webp?maxwidth=640&shape=thumb&fidelity=medium

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Saturday, 17 September 2022 17:25 (two weeks ago) link

Always thought picking that 1910 Fruitgum Company song showed excellent taste on Byrne's (or the band's) part.

Nobody can handle nipples like Bobo (Tom D.), Saturday, 17 September 2022 17:29 (two weeks ago) link

"wimps" was more their image, with the pressed white shirt buttoned up to the top and the nice slacks and the respectable haircut.

I had meant it in reference to the music fwiw.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Saturday, 17 September 2022 22:06 (two weeks ago) link

Idg the Yes comparison at all.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Saturday, 17 September 2022 22:15 (two weeks ago) link

I feel like I've read more hilariously wrong Christgau reviews than ones where I've thought "yeah, he's got a point there" by a factor of 10, at least.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 17 September 2022 22:17 (two weeks ago) link

But I mean, not going to go harder on Xgau for his 45yo comments than I'd want for my 20yo comments.xp

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Saturday, 17 September 2022 22:17 (two weeks ago) link

Not Xgau's last Yes comparison:

XTC: White Music [Virgin International, 1979]
Although it took a year and a half for this debut album by the premier English art-pop band to get released in the States, two Andy Partridge songs on side one aim directly at the American market--"Radios in Motion," which mentions Milwaukee, surely isn't about the BBC, and the avowed purpose of "Statute of Liberty" is to get a look up her skirts. The third, "This Is Pop," is why he missed--radio programmers resent anyone telling them their business, especially subversives who favor herky-jerk rhythms, jerky-herk harmonies, Lene Lovich radar noises, and depressing subject matter. Colin Moulding's songs, on the other hand, are aimed at bored Yes fans, which is why he missed--the lad doesn't know that Yes fans like being bored. B+

Hideous Lump, Saturday, 17 September 2022 22:58 (two weeks ago) link

I'm annoyed that the early-mix version of "New Feeling" that is the B-side of "Love Goes To A Building On Fire" (the 3:01 version, with some added horns and effects) isn't on Youtube, but there is this horrifying version from the '77 sessions that was released in 2003 (I think the 7" is a stripped down version of this) that shows you why the band pushed back so hard on Bongiovi's ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t5ZS3vRE3Q

sleeve, Sunday, 18 September 2022 01:57 (two weeks ago) link

I could be wrong, but I think the LP take is the same as this minus all of Tony's nonsense, and the early 7" B-side is still the same but with just touches of the horns etc

sleeve, Sunday, 18 September 2022 01:59 (two weeks ago) link

lol holy shit

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Sunday, 18 September 2022 02:06 (two weeks ago) link

Wow, that is utterly bizarre. I can't believe I've never heard that before.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Sunday, 18 September 2022 03:09 (two weeks ago) link

It's like the horns are pushing it into a different key.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Sunday, 18 September 2022 03:09 (two weeks ago) link

That New Feeling remix is bad but is it as annoying as the Life During Wartime "Alternate Version" with the ridiculous revving guitar layered over the old track like a wacky hand buzzer?

One can say that much like Bowie's and REM's covers being almost always crap despite what you'd guess based on their excellent taste and talent for experimentation, Talking Heads should have been great at remixes and just didn't get the format at all.

mig (guess that dreams always end), Sunday, 18 September 2022 14:45 (two weeks ago) link

huh, every rem cover i can think of is pretty good

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Sunday, 18 September 2022 14:52 (two weeks ago) link

You know what, scratch REM, I think I had just forgotten about the entirety of Dead Letter Office for some reason

mig (guess that dreams always end), Sunday, 18 September 2022 15:04 (two weeks ago) link

Superman is pretty classic and I like their party take on Strange

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Sunday, 18 September 2022 15:07 (two weeks ago) link

The New Feeling original mix is actually hilarious. Trying to picture Byrne's reaction to this

PaulTMA, Sunday, 18 September 2022 15:33 (two weeks ago) link

Speaking of R.E.M., it reminds me of hearing this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUv4tn3zGj0

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Sunday, 18 September 2022 15:38 (two weeks ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.