172. crosseyed + painless

Remain In Light was the Talking Heads’ fourth album, and the one that finally forced me to admit they were probably the best band in America, possibly the world. Because here was the future, not coming, already here, and cool and strange in ways I just wasn’t prepared for. Rhythms and poly-rhythms and drones and eruptions taking songs in all kinds of unprecedented directions, like they’d somehow heard all the music in the world and figured a way to get it into a 40 minute album of so-called pop music, or in the case of Crosseyed and Painless (concerned with urban paranoia apparently) one less than five minute song. Brian Eno helped, of course.” (Philip Random)

TalkingHEads-1980-live

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211. Persian Love

“The only reason why Holger Czukay’s Persian Love isn’t way higher on this list is because many people have already heard it, even if they couldn’t really tell you when or where, or who for that matter. It first came to me via Music + Rhythm (Peter Gabriel’s Womad compilation album that came our way in 1982). Exotic, sweetly melodic, modern — it instantly hooked me, and thus I had to know more, and there was a lot to know. Because, it turns out Holger Czukay came from an obscure German band called Can … and so on. One of those journeys that started small, but damned if didn’t lead me to a vast mansion of musical (and thus human) possibility: doors within doors within doors, and they all kept inviting me deeper, higher. And somewhere along the way, I got the back story on Persian Love itself – how Mr. Czukay constructed it around a fragment of song he’d recorded from shortwave radio. Like a ghost … out of ancient Persia.” (Philip Random)

HolgerCzukay-1979

324. I Zimbra

The entirety of Talking Heads’ third album Fear of Music is essential, but I Zimbra stands out for broad hint it offers of what would happen if Talking Heads (at the vigorous encouragement of their producer Brian Eno) were to maybe leave the whole punk/new wave thing behind, take a wild dive into the whole world, Africa in particular. Shrug it all off as cultural appropriation as some have over the years, but things were different then, the world was bigger, our maps magnitudes less complete. And anyway, things seem to be correcting of late.

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381. the hands of the juggler

Fred Frith being one of those geniuses who pretty much always let his playing do the talking, Gravity being an album that dates back to 1980, but it was deep into the 1990s before I gave it a proper listen. Music that stood the test, no doubt about that. Or more to the point, music that had confidently showed the way to the cool future we were then having. Rock and jazz and folk and all manner of exotic elements all humming along very nicely together, not world music per say, but what the world actually sounded like, with Hands of the Juggler a delirious standout, particularly once it shifts gears around the three-minute point.” (Philip Random)

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402. on the bed

George Harrison (always the most psychedelic Beatle) offers up a nifty slice of so-called world music (before we had the lame marketing term for it). Found on the soundtrack for a 1968 movie called Wonderwall that nobody ever saw, but then Oasis copped the title for a song name a couple of decades later and went mega-platinum with it. But On The Bed is far better (and cooler) than that derivative and over seasoned pop stew.

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621. ever so lonely

“Somebody told me a while back that Monsoon‘s Ever So Lonely was the first official World Music hit, whatever that means. Because it’s not as if they had a World Music chart back in 1982. Do they even have one now? I hope not. I mean, it’s all world music anyway, isn’t it? Which isn’t to say Ever So Lonely wasn’t one of the freshest things I’d ever heard when it first crossed my path. Not just the purity of the melody and Sheila Chandra‘s then sixteen year old vocals, but it was also a darned fine production, good strong beat, a joy to dance to, and the clubs were where I first heard it, the extended (and better) club mix, everybody going ecstatically off the planet altogether.” (Philip Random)

SheilaChandra-1982

699. listening wind

Remain In Light is one of those albums that changed me forever. Because here were the Talking Heads, a so-called New Wave band, embracing every sound (musical and otherwise) that the world had to offer and making it work, brilliantly, rearranging how my ears heard music. Listening Wind comes from toward the end of Side-B and speaks of wide open spaces, infinity even, all manner of mystery and imagination and reasons to live. I’ve watched a lot of suns set to this one, and even a few rise.” (Philip Random)

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