We have written about the 10 most collected funk records in our Database, and while it did illustrate some of the shortcomings of genre tags in general, it proved painfully obvious that there are a hell of a lot of Prince and Talking Heads fans out there. The true funk masters like George Clinton and Isaac Hayes were conspicuously absent from the most collected, but I did my level best to point the uninitiated in the proper direction to funkified enlightenment. However, your Collections, in all of their unique and carefully polished glory, cannot just be brushed off and forgotten about. I share your love of mis-labeled genres because the funk I hear on that Talking Heads song may sound like an awful synth-pop flashback to you. Unconcerned and freely oblivious about what their child thought of watching adults have sex on a train, my mom and dad were hippie staples of what it meant to be progressive parents. That Prince song sure was cool. And that Talking Heads song was even cooler. Scribbling thoughts down on my mental notepad, I went home and ruminated what I had learned. It became apparent that, apart from the pipe dream of DeMornay accepting my 9-year-old hand in marriage, I had to find a way to get that Risky Business soundtrack. I explained to my parents that buying the soundtrack completed the experience of them dragging me to the movie in the first place, and with this carefully devised plan of mental manipulation executed with precision, they relented and bought the record for me.
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Psycho Killer (Talking Heads: 77, 1977)
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In the beginning, there was just a freaky outsider called David Byrne. He met future Talking Heads husband-wife rhythm section Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth in while hanging out on the peripheries of the art and music scene at Rhode Island School of Design. They began jamming together, originally as the Artistics later the Autistics, a sporting appropriation of a campus joke. Byrne elliptically comparing love to his face, which is a building, which is on fire, prefigures a natural discomfort towards dealing with affairs of the heart as a lyrical subject in anything other than the abstract. Starting with one of the most instantly identifiable bass riffs in all of rock, supplemented by suitably stabbing guitars and topped with a brilliant half-gibberish gibberish chorus lyric, Psycho Killer scarcely wastes a note. Taking its cues from minimalist composers such as Philip Glass and Terry Riley , then hip touchstones on the New York art scene, the instrumental outro of Found a Job is ingenious in its esoteric simplicity: a skipping cyclical pizzicato melody repeated for two full minutes without variation, to hypnotic effect, over scratchy chords and an awkward chord progression, eventually fading out as if it would continue ad infinitum even after the needle has left the groove. In their determination not to become just another new wave singles band, by Talking Heads — egged on by Eno — had begun to entirely rip up the rulebook. Running cables out of the window to a van from the Record Plant studio parked outside, over two days that spring the four members laid down all the basic backing tracks for what would become Fear of Music, with Eno weighing in heavily with conceptual codification and electronic treatments. Eno and Byrne subsequently rearranged the constituent parts into glorious new shapes through a process of fading in and out contrasting but complimentary rhythmic and melodic phrases over one another in different combinations, in what was effectively a crude exercise in sampling and looping. You can read Once in a Lifetime as an art-pop rumination on the existential ticking time bomb of unchecked consumerism and advancing age.
'This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)'
Gavin Ellis loves Talking Heads. Like, really loves them. One third of London electro-punks Oh, he's joined Louder to talk us through Talking Heads' 10 finest tunes, and it's a job he's taking seriously. A cursory listen to the band's latest material should fill you in as to why picking the band's best tunes might be a task that holds some importance to Ellis. Just like David Byrne's New York troupe did odd years ago, Oh blend punk-rock sensibilities with infuriatingly catchy electro, merging jagged jangly guitars and thumping beats. It's a sound that's familiar, but essentially, entirely its own.
We thought what better time to celebrate the life and work of the mercurial genius, David Byrne than his birthday. The group built their reputation on being supremely undefinable. Soon enough they were planning their escape and subsequent domination of New York City. The group arrived as the Artistics and soon found themselves in a comfortable position; on the outside. Byrne, the Scottish-born singer found his happy place on the peripheries of society and soon invited the whole world over to his humble abode.