In the middle of Stop Making Sense David Byrne leaves the stage to put on his famously big suit, during this period the band on stage morphs into Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth’s side project Tom Tom Club. It is a part of the film that I’ve always liked (although I know those that didn’t), sure the bit where Franz starts rapping about “James Brown” makes me squirm a little but I loved the catchy riffs and cute vocals.
I’d never claim that Franz and Weymouth were the key to Talking Heads (Byrne is clearly the genius of the group) but they were a big part of the sound and the debut Tom Tom Club album was on my stereo as much as My Life In the Bush of Ghosts when I first picked it up.
That debut album is a still a favourite, ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ being the most worn out track on the 2009 reissue, and stands-up as a lesser classic of the 1980s. It is a surprise to look back and see just how influential, sampled and copied ‘Genius Of Love’ was (and still is). In 1981 it was already being used by the hip hop community as this track (below) by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five shows, and many other hip hop acts have used the beat or the core riffs over the years.
In the mid 1990s Mariah Carey used the song pretty much wholesale for her hit ‘Fantasy’, a song where the original band members (including King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew) get the writing credit.
I’m excited to be seeing the band play this July as part of their 30th anniversary tour. I haven’t purchased any of their albums since ‘Close to the Bone’ in 1983, and they have been patchy, if fun, records. But as a long time Talking Heads fanatic the chance to see these two members of the band is an opportunity I don’t want to miss. And the opportunity to hear their classic early singles played live is something I’m really looking forward to.
Tom Tom Club tour the UK as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations between July 14th and 20th. Details of dates can be found at. http://www.tomtomclub.net/.
By Dorian Rogers