Sunday, August 3, 2014
Talking Heads - Fear of Music
Today (August 3rd) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Fear of Music, the third studio album from Talking Heads. This 1979 release, co-produced with Brian Eno, spent thirty weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 21. It also went to number 35 in Australia, number 33 in the UK, number 27 in Canada and number 11 in New Zealand.
Side one begins with “I Zimbra”. Released as the second single, it went to number 28 on the US Billboard Dance chart. The lyrics are an adaptation of Dadaist poet Hugo Ball’s “Gadji beri bimba” with music inspired by cultural African music. I love Tina Weymouth’s bass groove on this one.
“Mind” has a quirky rhythm to it that brings about a head swirling with so much input.
“Paper” does a comparison of a love affair with a piece of paper.
“Cities”, the third single, is a man’s quest for someplace to live. The song has a hint of disco influences to it musically.
“Life During Wartime”, a song about living in the East Village of New York City, was released as the first single. It went to number 80 on the US Billboard Hot 100. I heard the live version of this track from Stop Making Sense long before I heard the studio cut; the live version probably spoiled me a bit.
The side closes out with the meandering “Memories Can’t Wait”. This one makes me think of those nights of my youth getting a good buzz on from drinking, when everything got a little bit hazy.
Side two opens with “Air”, the B-side to the second single. The song focuses on a man so depressed that even the act of breathing is painful for him. The ethereal backing vocals on this one are credited to the Sweetbreaths.
“Heaven” shifts things a bit, taking on a country-rock sound that was made popular in the 70’s by California groups like the Eagles.
“Animals” returns to the quirkier grooves and abstract concepts. Just what was David Byrne’s beef with the animal kingdom here? He certainly seems disappointed with the lot of them.
The B-side to the first single was “Electric Guitar” which almost seems like a response to the George Harrison penned Beatles track “My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
The album closes with “Drugs”. The slow, methodic sounds throughout remind me of a hospital breathing tube and heart monitor.
Fear of Music came out about five years prior to when I got into Talking Heads (that would be the mid-80’s when I was in college). As such, a lot of the tracks on this album were unfamiliar to me as of this review. This is one of those records that I think would take me a number of listens to really fully appreciate.
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