Friday, June 24, 2011

Talking Heads - '77

★★★★★ Tracks:
Uh-oh, Love Comes to Town
New Feeling
The Book I Read
Psycho Killer

As creative as the Talking Head’s were when they started to implement afrofunk on Fear of Music and Remain in Light, I enjoy their earlier work a lot more, when they were a more straightforward rock’n’roll group. But even in the beginning I imagine the 'Heads are probably one of the first bands to be classified as ‘art rock.' While the label has always sounded rather pretentious, it just seems to make sense when identifying groups that write cerebral and strange lyrics or compose more complex instrumentation thank your average pop/rock outfit, or in the case of the 'Heads, both. And really, David Byrne seems like a pretty pretentious guy anyways. But as evidenced by ’77, the entire record being written by Byrne, he backs that arrogance up with some of the most unique music of the late 70's and early 80's.

The guitar work here is elaborate, and implements a bit of the funk they would further incorporate a few years later. Byrne talks a bit about the government (“Some civil servants are just like my family” in “Don’t Worry About the Government”) about every day problems (“they say compassion is a virtue / But I don’t have the time” on “No Compassion”), about how great he is (“I’m a know it all / I’m the smartest man around” on “Uh-oh, Love Comes to Town”), but one of the odd, most reoccurring themes is his fascination with social politics between men and women (“Girls ask and I define decision / Boys ask and I describe their function” on “Tentative Decisions”), and all of these lyrics further the image of the frontman as a rather distraught weirdo; the anxious, rambling voice the sound of a man who should be medicated. His neuroses are our gain though. And who doesn’t love to give it their all when singing “Psycho Killer” on Rock Band?

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