Some bands or artists defy genre, they just create their own unique sound and let others decide what to do with it. Without question, David Byrne and his band “Talking Heads” fits in this category. It is never dull, it is never bland, and it is never without innovation. On this album, “Remain in Light”, which is rated #39 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, producer Brian Eno joins the mix, along with contributors like Adrian Belew from King Crimson. The end result is an outstanding kaleidoscope of sound.
Heavy on rhythm, percussion, Tina Weymouth’s bass and a quirky collection of grooves, each of these tracks are so unique and different from each other. Byrne’s vocals and unusual style are the common link, and each song is a new experience. Starting with the opening track “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)”, the blend of sound is just hard to fully describe. It isn’t what I would call an easy listen, like Steely Dan, but there are common themes in terms of the sophisticated production and advanced musicality. I really like almost the entire record, with the only track I don’t really care that much for being the last song, “The Overload”. I find it cumbersome and plodding, and darker than the rest of the musical celebration on this album.
For those of us who grew up in Denver of a certain age, as young music fans we clamored for any source that linked music with video, so that we could see the artists we spend all day and night listening to. Well before the days of cable television and MTV, we turned to KBDI Channel 12 for “FM-TV”., which evolved into “Teletunes”. It felt like they only had about 15 total videos, so we were fed a pretty steady diet of early ‘80s music, mostly from the alternative corners and shadows outside of mainstream pop or rock. One of the most recognizable staples of this video collection was “Once in a Lifetime”. Seeing David Byrne’s truly bizarre performance, with his bowtie, slicked Buddy Holly hair and glasses, is a memory none of us can ever forget. Even to this day, we can all replicate the arm chops and his seismic tremors as we all ask ourselves, “My god, what have I done?” This is a song that will ever be linked with the relative innocence and insatiable curiosity of that age, as we tried desperately to connect with the larger musical world out there beyond the boundaries of our tiny little town.
“Same as it ever was… same as it ever was… “