Great Rock Albums of 1983: Talking Heads- Speaking in Tongues

220px-Talking_Heads_-_Speaking_in_Tongues

What a difference thirty-three years can make! I didn’t bother too much with the Talking Heads’ 1983 release, “Speaking in Tongues” because when I first heard the single, “Burning Down the House” on the radio, I thought that with the strong bass, they were trying to sound more disco. Yeah, I know. Rolling Stone magazine stating that the band was experimenting in funk put me off a bit too. It may be because that while my experiences in the marines opened my mind up to different music, it also closed my mind to certain types. I regret that now. Going back to the Talking Heads, I can say that over the past three decades, “Burning Down the House” has slowly grown on me enough to finally give the “Speaking in Tongues” a listen. Now, I have come to the conclusion that in 1983, times had finally caught up with the Talking Heads and that their first album, “77,” was way ahead of its time.

In this case, it was probably a good idea that the album started off with their only top ten single. For me, “Burning Down the House” brought me into familiar territory. I now realise that the song sounds more like traditional Talking Heads than I had originally allowed myself to believe. The rest of the album follow suit. In fact, my initial reaction was that all the songs, while all well done, sounded pretty much the same. However, when I listened to the album again, I began to find subtle differences in the songs. The use of more keyboards on the album was done very well but done without sounding like the synth pop the 80s would eventually degenerate into. Two great examples of the keyboard use are the tracks “Slippery People” and “I Get Wild/Wild Gravity.” There are some really nice unique keyboards usages with those two songs. Other standout tracks for me are “Swamp” and “Girlfriend is Better.” Something else that this album has in common with the debut is a really good closer track and “Moon Rocks” is quite amusing.

th77

Another thing I first discovered on “77” and shows through more on “Speaking in Tongues” is that Tina Weymouth is a very underrated bass player and I wonder if the lack of respect shone to her abilities is down to gender.

Track Listing:

  1. Burning Down the House
  2. Making Flippy Floppy
  3. Girlfriend is Better
  4. Slippery People
  5. I Get Wild/Wild Gravity
  6. Swamp
  7. Moon Rocks
  8. Pulled Up the Roots
  9. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
Talking Heads

Talking Heads

David Byrne- vocals, guitar, keyboards, keyboard bass, percussion

Chris Frantz- drums, backing vocals, synthesizers

Jerry Harrison- keyboards, guitar, backing vocals

Tina Weymouth- bass, keyboard bass, backing vocals, guitar

Man I have seen the light and am now converted! I am glad I was so wrong about the Talking Heads in 1983 and their album “Speaking in Tongues.” They were considered punk in the late 1970s and new wave in the 1980s but the ‘new’ can’t be emphasized enough. They were ahead of their time and in 1983, the rest of the world finally caught up with them.

Next post: Greg Kihn Band- Khinspiracy

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

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4 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1983: Talking Heads- Speaking in Tongues”

  1. Nice one – I’m a Greatest Hits only kind of fan so far, but I know there’s loads of great stuff of theirs to explore.

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  2. Glad you came around to this album. I had similar issues with certain genres at the time, but the benefit of age & an open mind is we can appreciate so many things from our past that we had previously dismissed. As good as Speaking In Tongues is, I highly recommend you check out its two predecessors (Fear Of Music and Remain In Light) which are, in my opinion, much stronger albums. They were the second artist I wrote about at my blog, almost 5 years ago, and their catalog was a revelation.

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    • I did visit “Remain in Light” back when I was traveling through 1980. It is a stronger album like you say. I never got around to listening to “Fear of Music” but I’ve heard good things about it. Thanks for pointing these things out.

      Liked by 1 person

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