1977, Music

Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

This is a much rawer version of the band, understandably. They lack a lot of the musical and lyrical polish they had later (even the next year) and they seem to lack as clear an identity. Don’t get me wrong, this is still really, really New Wave compared to, say, Classic Rock of the same year, or even British New Wave at the time. But beyond “Psycho Killer” there are no obvious classics, it’s easy to see why a lot of this got dropped from their shows later.

I sound like I don’t like this, and I don’t mean that. I’ve just come at this bass-ackwards and it’s weird hearing such a primitive version of the band. Hell, the lead off track barely sounds like this band at all.

My poor listening habits aside, this is a central early document of New Wave, pointing out an alternative approach than punk to revitalizing music. I wasn’t born so I have no idea what it was like to see these bands in New York before they put records out, but it must have been a shock to come upon records like this, when everything on the radio sounded very, very blues (or country) based. Then you get this and you’re like “whaaat?”

They definitely got a lot better as a band (and Byrne got better as a songwriter), but this is still pretty great.

9/10

All tracks written by David Byrne, except where noted.

  1. “Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town” 2:48
  2. “New Feeling” 3:09
  3. “Tentative Decisions” 3:04
  4. “Happy Day” 3:55
  5. “Who Is It?” 1:41
  6. “No Compassion” 4:47
  7. “The Book I Read” 4:06
  8. “Don’t Worry About the Government” 3:00
  9. “First Week/Last Week… Carefree” 3:19
  10. “Psycho Killer” (David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth) 4:19
  11. “Pulled Up” 4:29
  • David Byrne – guitar, lead vocals
  • Chris Frantz – drums, steel pan
  • Jerry Harrison – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Tina Weymouth – bass guitar

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