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Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

August 2, 2017

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Fabulous logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 551/1001]

“The Game is won and lost on bold moves”
– My wonderful wife &/or me, when playing a game, most recently during a cottage jenga battle this weekend

Bold Move #1: You’re about to release your major label debut single.

You have to choose an instrument to help make a first impression with new listeners.

Did you choose the steel pan?

If so, you’re likely either in Jane’s Addiction (with the track Jane Says) or in Talking Heads (with the track Uh Oh, Love Comes To Town).

By incorporating the steel pan in the lead single, while resisting the temptation to include it again elsewhere on the debut album, that’s a game-winning kind of bold move.

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jengajenga board @ extended family cottage

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Bold Move #2: It’s the late 70s & you have to release another new wave single.

You choose to make it about a challenging subject, delivered via the singer’s uniquely eccentric yet effective voice.

The question is, was your single about prostitution or serial killing?220px-Talking_Heads_77

I’ll never forget seeing Billy Joel being interviewed about his bewilderment after the first time he heard The Police’s Roxanne.

I’m not sure if the acronym ‘WTF’ was in common parlance at the time…but I imagine many would have had a similar reaction upon hearing Psycho Killer for the first time.

The chorus lyric, “Psycho Killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est, fa fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa fa fa,” how does one process that on the first listen?!

But it’s so bizarre that it works, the bold move paid off nicely.

And with 2 successful bold moves, there was no chance Talking Heads: 77 was going to be an overall miss.

Qu’est-ce que c’est? C’est bizarre, mais je l’aime beaucoup!

Fa fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa fa fa.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

I saw that Rich @ Kamertunes posted about this album last week, as a part of his (bold/game-winning) Forty Year Friday series.

I intentionally haven’t read it yet (I was waiting until I’d finished my review) – but I’m off to go do so now, please join me!

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From → 1970s

28 Comments
  1. Great points about the bold moves from this one-of-a-kind band, especially considering those moves came at the start of their career. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on whichever songs/albums you choose to cover. Oh, and thanks for the shout-out to my post on their debut (and the kind words about my FYF series).

    • Thanks Rich – and the more I hear by these guys, the more the description of one-of-a-kind fits!

  2. I’ve never really warmed to this one – it’s always felt a little sickly sweet/nauseating/insincere to me. I liked them better when they got darker, and Eno beefed up their sound.

    • I had Fear of Music on the other day – I hear what you mean about Eno’s impact there.
      At first listen, I prefered the earlier ones, but over time, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being my favourite of the lot for the reasons you mentioned.

      • Remain in Light is even more Eno – he basically seems like a member of the band there.

  3. I have Spongebob Jenga. Just saying.

  4. jprobichaud permalink

    His album was one of the two that started my vinyl collection and that will always be memorable to me. But you’re absolutely right about them being bold and breaking all the rules and still succeeding. Fa fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa fa fa….

    • I’m now quite curious as to what the other part of that collection opening pair was JP!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        Haha! The debut Oasis album. My wife found them both at a street sale in NYC and picked them up for me on a whim. The rest is history.

      • That’s a fantastic start to an LP collection, 2 solid debuts!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        Indeed. They are the only two used pieces in my collection but after I cleaned, they sounded like new.

  5. One of those rare bands that I still get excited listening to. Always find myself listening to their albums and still finding myself mesmerised by Byrne. His phrasing on later releases was particularly excellent.

    • Oh, and that’s a quality Jenga tower!

      • Wendy’s uncle saw one like it at a wedding and was inspired to make his own – brilliant!

    • I think I used to find his voice irritating (sort of like how I felt about Mr. Perry Farrell) but in both cases, I’ve changed my tune.
      There’s something quite appealing now about his vocal wandering!

      • Both of those chaps would be in my list of greatest vocalists ever. Perry would certainly be in my top 5!

      • I’m of course quite curious as to who else would make the cut J!

      • I actually thought after posting that could make a good wee post.

      • I’d be keen to read it!

  6. Another lesson to taught to Ol Bones!

  7. Qu’est-ce que c’est?

  8. Ironic that you’ve reviewed this a week before the 40th anniversary of David Berkowitz’ arrest. “Psycho Killer” is a brilliantly odd song.

    “Few albums will ever sound so radical without deserting the mainstream. “Talking Heads:77” is stuffed full of fun, interest and intelligence, and although not the definitive oeuvre, it’s still a darn fine first installment.”

    https://hackskeptic.com/2016/02/28/talking-heads-talking-heads77-1977-review/

    • I hadn’t realized the timing when I posted – but I was well aware of how brilliantly odd the song was!

      • Well the album was released around the same time that Son Of Sam was arrested. Imagine it’s resonance to New Yorkers at the time

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