Tag Archive | "Talking Heads"

The B-52’s – Mesopotamia (1982)

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The B-52’s – Mesopotamia (1982)

Posted on 22 March 2021 by Joe

Half-finished album? EP? Mini-album? Call it what you will it, but Mesopotamia deserves its own place in the history of The B-52’s album releases.

It was planned as the band’s third full album with David Byrne at the helm no less. He seemed the right fit for a band that was regularly on the same touring circuit and bill as Talking Heads. They knew and respected Byrne and vice-versa.

But it didn’t quite go to plan. Byrne was also recording The Catherine Wheel, which he worked on by day, while recording with the B-52’s at night.

This schedule can’t have been good for anyone involved.

Whether lack of sleep or not quite understanding The B-52’s, Byrne’s mix of the album was not what the band were after. Too flat, too sad in places. Perhaps he was half asleep?

As a result, it was cut short and released as a six track collection, with three of four abandoned songs later to resurface in the far more commercially savvy next album Whammy, but more of that tomorrow.

Island didn’t help either, shunning the band’s choices of more upbeat tracks and instead going for filler songs.

The tracks

Across the six tracks here, half are good and half are a misstep. Loveland, with Cindy Wilson on vocals, followed by Deep Sleep, with Kate Pierson taking turns behind the mic, are as lacklustre an opening two tracks as you can get.

It picks up significantly with the title track, with Fred Schneider’s much needed enthusiasm making it a real highlight. Cake is a track I’ve warmed to, but the mix feels too flat for me. It ends on a high though with Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can and this mini-album’s best track Nip It in the Bud. Cindy is on fine form here.

The tracks that later emerge on Whammy are all perfect for that release.  More on that tomorrow. I’m glad they were left off Mesopotamia and away from Byrne’s tired controls.

You may love some of the tracks I haven’t warmed to and hate the ones I like, but time and again it is Mesopotamia and Nip it in the Bud that I come back to from this.

Next week, a drum machine and an album with one of, if not our favourite tracks by the band. It’ll help you find the essence from within!

By Joe Lepper


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National Wake  – National Wake

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National Wake – National Wake

Posted on 05 February 2013 by Joe

When the likes of Joe Strummer and Paul Weller sung about police brutality and racism in their late 1970s and early 1980s heyday thousands took notice.

But when National Wake, a multi-racial punk band in Apartheid era South Africa, sung about these themes there is an extra resonance. Here was a band that was often banned from playing live, had first hand experience of police oppression and lived in one of the most brutal and unjust societies of the modern era.  Those that managed to see them were enthralled, but the wider world never even knew they existed.

National Wake were formed in 1978, two years after the Soweto uprising,  and at it’s core were Ivan Kadey, an architecture student with a protest singing and folk music background and brothers Gary and Punka Khoza, who played bass and drums respectively on the township soul and funk circuit.

Taking those protest folk and soul influences, combining them with rock and punk as well as reggae they created something that was wholly unique. At times its Bob Marley, at others Talking Heads with elements of The Clash and Funkadelic entering the mix. It was a superb combination that begs the question were they influenced by the music around them or were the likes of Talking Heads influenced by them?

Joined by additional members at various times: including percussionist ‘One Eyed’ Mike Lebisi; lead guitarist Paul Giraud; saxophonist Kelly Petland and slide guitarist Steve Moni, they were highly accomplished musicians and that shines through just as strongly as the protest lyrics on their only album, 1981’s National Wake.

I’ve only discovered them this year, through talk on the internet about the recent Punk in Africa documentary. This wonderful mixtape of the era was also enough convince me to buy the 2011 reissue of National Wake. It’s an album that has taken me by surprise. Not only is it surprising to someone brought up on UK and US punk bands to find out that South Africa had a punk scene at all during Apartheid, but its also a surprise at just how good this remastered version of this once forgotten album is.

Musically its as good if not better than many of UK and US new wave and punk bands we’ve already mentioned, opening with Wake Of The Nation, with prog rock guitar solo merging effortlessly into a soul funk rhythm that Weller would have welcomed with open arms to The Jam’s Gift album. The Saxophone and guitar solos are particularly effective but the lyrics shine brightest, “this is the wake of the nation as we smash it away.”

International News is another punk influenced track, combining the innovative world music view of Talking Heads with the social commentary of Strummer perfectly with its superb opening riff jerking among the percussion on a track about government censorship and the struggle of South Africans to tell the world and each other about their plight. The heavy South African accent on the “International News” chorus adds to the weight of this song. Even the fast pace of the song conveys the threat of government oppression.  In this Afro-pop interview with Kadey, he explains “there’s a sense of urgency to get this out before it gets shut down.”

The “Keep on moving, keep on fighting chorus” on Supaman, one of many Bob Marley influenced tracks, is the most emotional moment on the album. No matter what is being thrown at them the fight is worth it. There’s an added dignity to this song as Gary and Punka’s brother had been the victim of a brutal police attack. This track should have been played as Nelson Mendela took office when Apartheid was eventually dismantled.

The final track, a live version of Black Punk Rockers, is added to the reissue, and is the most overtly punk song on the album. But around half way through the band’s individualism comes through with one of the best drum and percussion solos in rock  brilliantly placed between the fierce major bar chords.

National Wake was originally released by WEA in South Africa. But following pressure from the South African government due to its overtly political lyrics it was effectively shelved.

Touring was also difficult for the band. Their Riot Rock tour with other South African new wave bands such as Safari Suits in 1979 was marred by venues refusing to allow a multi-racial band to play. They instead retreated out of the cities into township discos and small rural venues to find an audience. In the end they dissolved shortly after their album was shelved.

As for the band members they stayed within the South African music scene where they continued to influence other artists.  Kadey co-founded the record label Shifty Music and helped build its mobile studio using some of the National Wake’s sound equipment. Among those to use it was Warrick Sony of Kalahari Surfers. The Khoza brothers stayed within Johannesburg’s Rockey Street alternative scene, which featured a number of multi-racial bands, given confidence to play together by the trailblazing National Wake.

Apartheid may have ended but their lyrics of struggle and yearning for freedom are still pertinent globally and across South Africa. This is what makes the album far more than an historical artefact and we believe an essential item in any music collection.

National Wake is available direct from South African label  Fresh Music here  or to download from iTtunes or Amazon.

by Joe Lepper



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Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives – Talking Heads

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Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives – Talking Heads

Posted on 05 January 2013 by Dorian

It is hard to remember what the first album that I purchased (with my own money for myself at any rate) was. I believe that it was Peter Gabriel’s So in 1986 aged 14, neither a terrible start nor one that I look back at with a huge degree of fondness. I do know what the first great album I purchased was, The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads in the same year (from the long gone Tilbury Gig in Brighton’s St.James’s Street). Now this was a great collection of live recordings by a band that would shape my love of music as much as any other.

Talking Heads

I first heard the band in a friends bedroom around a year earlier, the soundtrack to the legendary concert film Stop Making Sense’. In those days (nostalgia time) acquiring lots of music was difficult without a lot of disposable income (we didn’t have a tape to tape recorder yet) and that meant albums got a lot of repeat plays. This means that the first Talking Heads song I remember hearing was the solo acoustic version of ‘Psycho Killer’ that opens the performance. It is a wonderful song and a brilliant performance, but it is one of the least representative songs in a very varied body of work. Other than the vocals and lyrics of David Byrne none of the signature elements of the band is on show. One of the great things about Stop making Sense is the way it builds and shows the band in several stages of development, leading up to the big new-wave-funk-pop big band that they would be best remembered for.

Now I am a big fan of their earlier more sparse sound, but there is a real magic to the extended Talking Heads live show from the mid-80s, with some of the best musicians of the era augmenting the core quartet. Even better in some respects than the band on show for Stop Making Sense was the band line-up that toured Remain In Light, featuring King Crimson’s Adrian Belew on guitar. A brilliant performance of ‘Crosseyed And Painless’ live in Rome is embedded below.

I was lucky enough that the year I discovered the band was the year that they would release Little Creatures and have a two top 20 hits with ‘Road To Nowhere’ and ‘And She Was’. These were brilliant singles with great videos and represented the first time that one of “my” bands would cross over into the pop mainstream. The downside of discovering the band at this time was that after the tour that spawned Stop Making Sense would be their last and they would never play live again (other than at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). I’ve managed to see three quarters of the band live (albeit not in one place) but not getting to see them play as Talking Heads will always be a hole in my musical life. It also means that none of the songs from their last three albums have ever been played outside of the studio by the band which seems a terrible shame.

The good news about discovering the band in 1985 was that I heard five album from their back catalogue to discover, each of which remain firm favourites to this day. They are also the albums that I have owned in the most formats having purchased cassette, vinyl and CD copies of most of them, with remastered CD versions of a couple meaning I have purchased them four times over the last quarter century.

Each of these albums from the jerky sparse  new wave on 77 to the synth laden funk-pop on Speaking In Tongues is uniquely brilliant and show a peerless progression of sound. It is remarkable how few false steps the band took in their career to that point. A couple of songs don’t quite hit the mark, and I feel that Remain In Light tails off a little on side two, but considering the overall quality of their output I’m picking holes here.

After Little Creatures things do start to move downhill a little as the band started to fracture and tension between David Byrne and Tina Weymouth in particular drove the band to split. True Stories sounds like what it was, a collection of soundtrack songs played by the band and, although I have grown to love it, Naked seemed very disappointing on release day.

All four members of the band have done good things away from Talking Heads, Jerry Harrison mainly as a producer, Frantz and Weymouth as Tom Tom Club and Byrne in a variety of guises (including my personal favourite album of 2012) but nothing that matches their best work as a combo. This is highlighted to great effect on the brilliant Chronology DVD that takes you through the bands live performances from their early days as a trio through to the big band on the mid-80s and they brief reformation in 2002.

Picking ten tracks from one of your favourite artists is always hard, pretty much every one of their albums is brilliant from start to finish, but pick ten tracks I will. My selection is hardly likely to surprise as it features several of their singles, a fuller list can be heard on Spotify here. (If you want to hear some more songs plus some music by related acts, and acts that have a clear Talking Heads influence in their sound that can be found on Spotify here).

  1. Love -> Building On Fire
  2. No Compassion
  3. Found A Job
  4. Mind
  5. Crosseyed And Painless
  6. Making Flippy Floppy
  7. Psycho Killer (Stop Making Sense version)
  8. And She Was
  9. Love For Sale
  10. (Nothing But) Flowers

By Dorian Rogers


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Caetano Veloso and David Byrne – Live at Carnegie Hall

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Caetano Veloso and David Byrne – Live at Carnegie Hall

Posted on 22 March 2012 by Dorian

Live at carnegie hall is a live album recorded back in 2004 featuring the talents of Caetano Veloso and David Byrne. Caetano Veloso is not a name that I was familiar with prior to purchasing this album, the presence of the former Talking Heads front man was my main reason to pick it up. However, it is the talents of Caetano Veloso that really drive this engaging live album. The Brazlian  singer, guitarist and songwriter has recorded dozens of albums since his debut in 1967 and is a significant musical and political figure in his homeland.

Caetano Veloso and David Byrne

The firs third of the album is Caetano performing alone, with cello and percussion being added gradually to the set. The songs here are beautifully played and sung, the skillful guitar work perfectly complementing his understated vocal style. There are two slight problems with the set at this point, the first (and this is not a valid criticism) is the language barrier. He is a famous political figure as well as musician and I wish I could understand the words as I have no doubt they would add significantly to the impact of the songs. The second problem is a bigger one, however lovely the songs are the whole performance is just a little bit polite. The light and airy style coupled with the controlled enthusiasm of the audience’s applause lacks a passion that I would have expected from a musician of Veloso’s reputation. However, these are lovely songs performed with real skill.

The more collaborative parts of the concert start with Veloso singing a David Byrne song, ‘The Revolution’, and half way through Byrne takes to the stage and adds his vocals to the mix. The next few songs showcase David Byrne’s catalogue with solo tracks and Talking Head’s favourites getting a an airing. This is the part of the album I was looking forward to most, but is actually the most frustrating. I had hoped that we would hear these songs interpreted in an interesting way to reflect the collaboration on stage. What we actually get is a kind of “David Byrne Unplugged” set, which is never going to be a bad thing (when the sings are this good) but also something of a missed opportunity. That aside, there is a bit of a thrill to hear ‘And She Was’ and ‘Road To Nowhere’ performed live as they never got a stage airing when Talking Heads were still together (and the performance of ‘Road To Nowhere’ is actually pretty great).

Things get properly interesting in the final third of the set as we get to hear a proper collaboration between the two performers. ‘Dreamworld: Marco de Canaveses’ is a co-written duet and manages to perfectly distill the different writing and performing styles of both men. The highlight of the album is a duet run through the beautiful ‘(Nothing but) Flowers’ which is a spirited and warm performance that quickens pace throughout. It really is a great performance, and one that is very different from the original, and for me justifies the price of the album alone.

The album closes out with ‘Terra’, a Veloso song that has some of the spirit that was missing from the earlier songs, and a typically stirring take on Talking Head’s ‘Heaven’ which brings things to a conclusion pretty perfectly.

This is a hard album to score (and I’m no big fan of scoring my reviews at the best of times) as it is a recording of what I imagine was a fantastic live concert, but it falls just a little bit short as an album. I imagine that I’ll listen to the album, but mainly as background and less often as the musical focus. It is recomended to any Talking Heads fan who would like to add a few new live versions to their collections, and is a good introduction to Veloso, an artist that I will be seeking out more of on the strength of his songs here.


By Dorian Rogers


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Tom Tom Club – Live at The Jazz Café 15/07/11

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Tom Tom Club – Live at The Jazz Café 15/07/11

Posted on 17 July 2011 by Dorian

First off, a confession, I didn’t have very high hopes for this gig. I love the first Tom Tom Club album, and seeing any of my Talking Heads heroes live is worth an outing, but I wasn’t convinced it would be a great gig. The band haven’t released many great albums, the line-up is entirely different from the first album (Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth the obvious exceptions) and I expected a rather indifferent show. The good news is that what I saw was a very well planned set, played really well, that was one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen in years.

Tom Tom Club

The band kick things off with ‘Who Feelin’ It’ from 2000’s The Good The Bad And The Funky and the energy of the band and crowd alike create the feeling of being at a very enjoyable party from the outset. The set draws on the bands best songs from across their career and the energy levels don’t drop for one second.

The band, featuring a DJ complete with a BAD baseball cap, are excellent and add some real flair and energy to Frantz and Weymouth’s famously steady rhythm section. The utility player (keyboard and percussion) was particularly excellent and manages to achieve what several players did on the original recordings.

Tom Tom Club

The big hits from the debut album are saved to late in the set with Genius of Love unsurprisingly getting the biggest cheer of the night. It is a real thrill to hear a song this familiar and influential played by the band that created it, and the party atmosphere reaches its peak. After a, slightly ill-judged, take on ‘I Believe In Miracles’ the band play the other big single from their debut ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ and finish the set to rapturous cheers and applause.

The inevitable encore is the bands master-stroke as they choose to play two Talking Heads tracks to the excitable crowd. They pick two songs from their former band, and wisely choose the songs that will highlight the lack of David Byrne the least. First is a take on Al Green’s ‘Take Me To The River’, sung here by the band’s back-up vocalist, a song that fits the party atmosphere to a tee. The final song of the evening is ‘Psycho Killer’, famously played solo by Byrne in Stop Making sense. However, hearing Tina Weymouth play the simple pulsing opening bass line, with her husband providing the distinctive drums, is pretty magical for a Talking Heads fan and rounds the evening off perfectly.


By Dorian Rogers


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Tom Tom Club

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Tom Tom Club

Posted on 22 June 2011 by Dorian

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.

Tom Tom Club

Tom Tom Club in 2011

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


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Top 100 Albums (20-11)

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Top 100 Albums (20-11)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday. Hope you enjoy this latest instalment. The rest of the Top 100 can be found here.

20. The Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin

Soft Bulletin from 1999 marked a change of direction for The Flaming Lips from their experimental  earlier albums to a more conventional  rock sound. Although  coming after Zaireeka, their four disc album to be played on four separate stereo systems simultaneously, arguably anything would have seemed conventional. ‘Race for the Prize’ and ‘Waiting for Superman’ are among many highlights on their ninth album Soft Bulletin, but perhaps our standout is ‘The Spark That Bled’, a perfect example of how the band managed to merge their sentimental charm with a psychedelic edge. This commercial direction for the band was to continue for the next two albums, with great effect on album number 10 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. By their 11th album At War with the Mystics this focus on pop music seemed a little tired and they made a welcome return to  their experimental roots with the sprawling 2009 double album Embryonic.

19. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

On his first solo outing after splitting Whiskeytown Ryan Adams recorded a surprisingly honest and sensitive album considering his alt-country bad boy reputation. The album is a homage to the good and bad side of relationships, moving between celebratory and despairing over 15 brilliant tracks. After an opening conversation about Morrissey albums it kicks into the rollicking country-blues of ‘To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)’ before settling into a quieter acoustic feel for the remainder of the album (excepting the Stonesy ‘Shakedown On 9th Street’). Backed by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (two of the best players in rootsy Americana) the playing is never less than excellent and the singing (including duets with Emmylou Harris) is top notch throughout. Great singing and playing coupled with the best set of songs in Adam’s, never less than interesting, career add up to a great album.

18. Belle and Sebastian  – The Boy With The Arab Strap

For us aged, fey indie-kids at Neon Filler picking the best Belle and Sebastian is a tough call. Sometimes 1996’s If You’re Feeling Sinister is our favourite, other times Dear Catostrophe Waitress whets our appetitie. But after having a good trawl though their back catalogue in recent weeks the one we keep coming back to is their third album, 1998’s The Boy With the Arab Strap. The production is pitch  perfect allowing the subtle instrumentation to work around lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s stories. There’s some great tunes as well. Among our highlights are the title track, ‘It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career’ and ‘Dirty Dream Number Two’. Guitarist Steve Jackson’s turn on lead vocals on  ‘Seymour Stein’ is another highlight on this much loved album by this much loved band.

17. American Music Club – Mercury

American Music Club - Mercury

Most critics name the previous American Music Club, Everclear, as the bands finest hour but we think that Mercury just pips it as the band’s true masterpiece. Mark Eitzel paints a pretty bleak picture lyrically on many of the songs here but his soaring vocals, lush instrumentation and warm production soften the blow. It is the most varied album of the bands career mixing slow paced ballads (‘I’ve Been A Mess’), indie pop (‘Keep Me Around’) and loose noise (‘Challengers’). Guitarist Vudi sounds like he is fighting the urge to let rip at all times, but it is this forced restraint that adds tension to the quieter songs. The album contains the bands greatest and best known song ‘Johnny Mathis’ Feet’, a deserving entry into the great American songbook. Eitzel is a confusing and oblique character, but anyone who writes a song with the title ‘What Godzilla Said to God When His Name Wasn’t Found in the Book of Life’ deserves our attention.

16. The Mountain Goats – Sunset Tree

The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle is a master story teller. On latest album All Eternals Deck the focus was on other’s lives, including Judy Garland and even Charles Bronson. But on 2005’s The Sunset Tree Darnielle looks to his own life with dramatic effect as he recalls his teenage years in an abusive home. Across the album these deeply personal tales chart his escape into a world of video games, music, drink, drugs and storytelling away from the grim reality of his homelife and his drunken step father. It’s harrowing stuff, but never depressing. The tracks from ‘Dance Music’ to ‘This Year’ are about survival and are full of hope.  Final track ‘Pale Green Things’ provides a  fitting conclusion with Darnielle recalling his step father’s death and remembering a rare nice day out at the race track. For more about The Mountain Goats read our Top Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives article here.

15. Sparklehorse – Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

The late Mark Linkous released four albums as Sparklehorse in his too-short life and Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot was a dazzling and mesmerising debut. Played largely by Linkous alone (with a handful of musicians including David Lowery in support) it is an eclectic, sad and beautiful collection. Despite moving between the soft elegance of songs like ‘Homecoming Queen’ to the catchy alt-rock like ‘Someday I Will Treat You Good’ and the dischord of ‘Tears On Fresh Fruit’ it always sounds cohesive and natural. Linkous came from a traditional folk background and moved into alternative rock music, the album suceeds in bringing these styles seemlessly together. This works perfectly on the banjo lead ‘Cow’ with the memorable refrain “Pretty girl, milkin’ a cow, oh yeah”.

14. REM  – Murmur

Back in 1982  executives at record label IRS were keen to send their recent signing REM on the road to rock stardom. Only problem was that the band were having none of their methods. Shunning the label’s choice of producer Stephen Hague and pressure to incorporate guitar solos and synthesisers into their music, they instead wanted to create a timeless feel. With producer Mitch Easter, who had worked with the band on their first EP Chronic Town, on board the band managed to get free rein to turn the tracks they’d been touring for a year or so into the album they wanted. From start to finish this is packed with great tracks with first single ‘Radio Free Europe’, ‘Talk About The Passion’ and ‘Catapult’ among many highlights. Musically it’s a mix of The Byrds, particularly through Peter Buck’s guitar style, and Pylon, the eccentric new wave band from their home town of Athens, Georgia. REM’s approach was proved right in the end. Wthin a few months of its release they were well on their way to superstardom, supporting The Police at Shea Stadium and producing a fine run of commercially and critically acclaimed albums throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

13. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings And Food

Talking heads - More songs about buildings & food

Picking the best Talking Heads album is tough, most of their albums (including either of their live albums) could claim a place in this chart. One of the most important American acts of the 1970s and 80s they mixed soul and funk influences into their jittery new wave sound. More Songs About Music And Food takes a measured step forward from their 1977 debut and embraces David Byrne’s interest in the people and landscape of middle-America. Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth provide a tight simple backing to the wired frontman and neat guitar interplay with Jerry Harrison adds texture to the bands sound. The album contains few of the band’s best known songs, only their cover of Al Green’s ‘Take Me To The River’ was a hit, but it is their most rounded collection. ‘Found A Job’ stands out in particular, with a great instrumental outro, and is as good a song as you’ll find by any of New York new wave acts.

12.Blondie – Parallel Lines

Has there ever been a better female fronted band than Blondie? In our ears and minds the answer is a clear ‘no’. Take Blondie’s third album, 1978’s  Parellel Lines for example. It boasted a ker-ching making six singles among its 12 tracks. What’s more  the album tracks that didn’t make it on to 7” were pretty fine  too. Blending rock, new wave, and even disco on ‘Heart of Glass’, the tracks echo the sixties at times, such as on ‘Sunday Girl’. Under producer Mike Chapman  it was musically inventive too, with the guitar work of King Crimson’s  Robert Fripp  on ‘Fade Away and Radiate’ still capable of sending shivers down our spines to this day.

11. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

As the album opener ‘The Queen Is Dead’ kicks in with punchy bass and drums you are immediately aware you are listening to something pretty special, and equally aware that Morrisssey was wrong to dismiss the role of Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce in the band. The Smiths were one of the most important bands of the 1980s and it is difficult to overstate tyhe fanatcism of their fanbase at the time. Morrissey is a fascinating figure and, like him or not, their has never been another singer like him and his lyrics are witty and erradite here. Jonny Marr shines on the album and the arrangements are uniformly excellent throughout, it is also a little surprising how subtle and restrained his playing in. Only ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ showcases his signature jangle and it isn’t until the end of ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ that he lets rip (and then only for a short burst). ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ is the highest peak on an album of peaks and deserves a place on every best of the 80s collection.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers


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Rock Dinosaurs We Salute You

Posted on 22 September 2010 by Joe

Two years ago the NME almost hammered the last nail into the coffin of the Glastonbury Festival with its scathing criticism of the 2007 line up, which included so-called dinosaurs of rock The Who.

It was a welcome piece of campaigning journalism from the publication that has been sadly lacking since. But while it was right to attack organiser Michael Eavis, himself a middle aged man, for hiring The Who, it is not fair to say that festivals and the modern music lover should ignore all dinosaurs of rock and music.

Yes by all means ignore Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry. After one good album in the mid 60s their descent into rock opera should quite rightly be shunned.

But when it comes to other veterans such as former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould or Talking Head’s David Byrne, these middle-agers should be treated with the respect they deserve.

This month Neon Filler has been paying tribute to these two dinosaurs of alternative music. Byrne was this month performing at the Brighton Dome, UK, as part of his tour of Brian Eno collaborations. While the crowd of forty-somethings dancing in the aisles may have been embarrassing, the 56-year-old Byrne dressed purely in white, remained, as ever, cool personified.

Just listen to his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today album of last year with Eno and its stand out track ‘Strange Overtones’. This together with classic talking Heads tracks such as ‘Once in a Lifetime’ sound as new and innovative as anything being put out today, often by bands who are old enough to be his grand children.

And as for 48-year-old Bob Mould, whose ninth solo album Life and Times was released this week, he is still one of the most influential artists working in alternative music. From his bands Husker Du and Sugar and solo work Mould continues to influence and challenge. Fast/slow rock, hardcore, power pop, all labels that Mould either invented or mastered. If you don’t already own Zen Arcade, Husker Du’s 1984 album, get it and ask yourself this question. Would Nevermind and zillions of albums since have ever been made if it wasn’t for Bob Mould?

Mould and Byrne, rock dinosaurs, we salute you.


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