1991, Music

Laughing Stock (1991) by Talk Talk

Though Hex is generally considered the official beginning of post rock, you could make a very strong argument that post rock begins with this record. [An argument that, in 2019, I’d agree with.) Already very much hinting at it on the previous record, Spirit of Eden, the music here is often even less recognizable as rock music, with entire songs seemingly barely existing as actual pieces, in a way that had little precedent in popular music prior to this band. The jazz influence is perhaps even more pronounced this time out, but though some or even all of these songs were initially recorded as if they were free jazz, the results don’t really fit our idea of jazz either. Instead, the “songs” seem to exist in some new space, that made little sense in 1991. It’s why someone eventually had to come up with a new name for the music on this record.

Aside from all that, I really like it. It’s my kind of thing – there are few records this effectively moody while, at the same time, charting a new course. And the one song that doesn’t fit in, that actually feels like a rock song, is a strong one, perhaps their most compelling thing I’ve heard from them outside of “It’s My Life.”

Just an absolutely essential record and one of the landmark albums of the 1990s.


  1. “Myrrhman” (Mark Hollis) 5:33
  2. “Ascension Day” (Hollis) 6:00
  3. “After the Flood” (Tim Friese-Greene, Hollis) 9:39
  4. “Taphead” (Hollis) 7:39
  5. “New Grass” (Hollis) 9:40
  6. “Runeii” (Hollis) 4:58
  • Mark Hollis – vocal, guitar, piano, organ, melodica, variophon
  • Lee Harris – drums, percussion
  • Tim Friese-Greene – piano, organ, harmonium
  • Mark Feltham – harmonica
  • Martin Ditcham – percussion
  • Levine Andrade, Stephen Tees, George Robertson, Gavyn Wright, Jack Glickman, Garfield Jackson, Wilf Gibson – viola
  • Simon Edwards, Ernest Mothle – acoustic bass
  • Roger Smith, Paul Kegg – cello
  • Henry Lowther – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Dave White – contrabass clarinet

Read my reviews of Talk Talk albums. Or, read my reviews of albums from 1991.

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