Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Talking Heads - Little Creatures

Today (June 10th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Little Creatures, the sixth studio album from Talking Heads. It spent seventy-seven weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, topping out at number 20. Around the world, it reached number 18 in Canada, number 16 in Norway, number 12 in Switzerland, number 10 in Sweden and the UK, number 4 in Austria and the Netherlands, number 2 in Australia, and number 1 in New Zealand.

Side one opens with "And She Was", the album's third single. It spent twenty weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100, stopping its climb at number 54. It also went to number 53 in Germany, number 33 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 31 in the Netherlands, number 17 in the UK, number 16 in New Zealand, number 11 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 10 in Australia, and number 9 in Ireland. David Byrne noted in the linear notes of Once in a Lifetime: the Best of Talking Heads that the song was inspired by a hippie girl he knew that used to take acid and lay down in the fields by the Yoo-Hoo chocolate factory and watch the sky. The opening line even says “…she was lying in the grass…”. This is such an infectious song; I will sing right along with Byrne and company. It reminds me of carefree, fun times during college.

The B-side to the first and second singles was "Give Me Back My Name". The song has a dark, foreboding vibe to it that perfectly counters the album’s opener.

The track from which the album title comes, "Creatures of Love", is next. The song has a country sound to it that shows another aspect of the band. I can remember this one getting a good bit of play on album-oriented rock stations as well as coming from dorm rooms around campus. It is one of a couple deep tracks from this album that I enjoy.

"The Lady Don't Mind" was released as the first single. While it failed to do anything on the US charts, it did go to number 81 in the UK, number 42 in Germany, number 24 in Australia and Ireland, number 15 in the Netherlands, and number 8 in New Zealand. In giving the album a spin for this review, I am struck with strong memories of this one. Again, likely due to hearing a lot of these tunes in the background as I went through life in 1985 and 1986.

"Perfect World" has a perfectly approachable pop beat to it.

Side two starts with "Stay Up Late", a musical adventure in babysitting. While not an official single, it still charted at number 24 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. I think the video for the song that ran a lot on MTV back in late 1985 really was responsible for that. I can remember it vividly, and that really made the song a favorite of mine.

"Walk It Down" winds in next. It reminds me a little bit, in parts, to “Swamp” from the bands 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues”

"Television Man", the album’s longest cut at just over six minutes, comments on the first generation that was really raised with the popular appliance in most homes. I like the Latin musical influences on this one, and the synth parts later on remind me of classic 60's sci-fi shows for some reason. Yes, I watched a lot of television growing up.

"Road to Nowhere", the closing track, was the second single released. It only spent one week on the US Billboard charts, stumbling at number 105. Elsewhere, it reached number 51 in Canada, number 25 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 16 in Australia, number 10 in the Netherlands, number 6 in Germany, Ireland and the UK, and number 5 in New Zealand. The lyrics speak of the impending doom of civilization, yet they are set to a bouncy and uplifting melody. The contrast really works for the song. When the song opens with a gospel-like chorus by the band, I am right there singing along. I like that it ends the album on a high note; too often the last track on a record was a snoozer.

I did not own a copy of Little Creatures. I suspect my older brother owns a copy on vinyl, but by the point it came out in 1985 he and I were living in different states so my only exposure would have been radio and other folks around campus. Today I only have the last two singles as well as “Stay Up Late” in my digital collection. Upon this listen, I definitely liked the record a lot and will keep it on my list for adding to my collection at some point.

For more from Talking Heads, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Love the album though I didn't buy it until two weeks after it was released.

Still diggin' and trippin' on the groovy cover art thirty years later, too.