Tuesday, July 19, 2011

290 77. Only dated by the title.

Album: 77
Artist: The Talking Heads
Year: 1977
Genre: Pop


  1. Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town
  2. New Feeling
  3. Tentative Decisions
  4. Happy Day
  5. Who Is It ?
  6. No Compassion
  7. The Book I Read
  8. Don't Worry About The Government
  9. First Week / Last Week...Carefree
  10. Psycho Killer
  11. Pulled Up

Struggling amateur bands everywhere should take comfort from the career of Talking Heads. Passionate musicians who practice for hours in a garage, even though they can’t find a drummer who turns up sober and on time, should take a lot of solace in their copy of 77. Guitarists who get more dissapointed lectures from their parents than actual gigs must hold 77 up as a talisman to provide inspiration after every record company rejection.

Today the world regards 77 as a classic of its kind (even if it can't decide what its kind actually is). The album is revered and adored and Psycho Killer gets so much radio play it’s almost impossible to say “Psycho Killer” to a certain generation without them saying “Qu'est-ce que c'est ?" in reply and then humming the bassline for the rest of the day. It’s a huge album in 2011 but back in 77... not so much.

When it was released 77 only just made the Billboard Top 100 chart. It would be nice to say it made it to number 77 but sadly it peaked twenty places lower at 97. The public weren’t interested. More amazing is the fact that Psycho Killer only managed to climb to 92 on the singles charts. Listening to it today I struggle  to understand how people could miss its appeal. Did people not like funky basslines in 1977? Was the song just too catchy? The whole thing a bit too groovy? What was the problem? In the interests of research I decided to find out what single was on top of the charts when Psycho Killer was languishing down at the bottom. The answer was How deep is your love by the Bee Gees which makes me deeply ashamed even though I was only four years old at the time and in another country and therefore not really responsible.

A fascinating question to ponder would be how the single (and the entire album) would have fared if the lyrics were sung in a style that was less... quirky. Byrne doesn’t sing like a psycho killer he sings like the guy the psycho thinks is too creepy to hang around with. If Talking Heads had called in Mick Jagger as guest vocalist would 77 have gone to number one or is Byrne such an integral part of it’s appeal it wouldn’t even have made 97? I’d be fascinated to know.

If you’re out there somewhere struggling to get your music career started then sleep with a copy of 77 beside your bed. It’s proof that it really is possible to be musically ahead of your time. (Although I should point out that it’s also possible the reason nobody likes your music is because you’re crap- just another possibility to keep in mind)

Influenced by: Their own musical ideas
Influenced: Funky pop.

Highlight: The hit single
Lowlight: Don't worry about the Government

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Alien space punk pop poodle noodle peaches - bloop!"

-The final sentence in a strange review. Perhaps it spoke to you, or perhaps not.

So are you talking their language or is this all just over your head? Let me know below.

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