Talking Heads – Fear of Music – Our First White Hot Stamper – 2015

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

The Talking Heads and producer Brian Eno certainly weren’t shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing, and the average pressing of this record turns some of the more complicated parts into grainy mush. The material here is darker than the songs on the first two albums, so a copy that lacks any extension up top will have trouble bringing the music to life. The texture of Eno’s synthesizers gives the music depth and character, and a copy with smear issues forsakes much of that. It takes a special pressing to make this music really work, but this one really gets it right.

Much like Remain In Light, this is a brilliant album but a typically problematic record. The Talking Heads and producer Brian Eno certainly weren’t shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing, and the average pressing of this record turns some of the more complicated parts into grainy mush. The material here is darker than the songs on the first two albums, so a copy that lacks any extension up top will have trouble bringing the music to life. The texture of Eno’s synthesizers gives the music depth and character, and a copy with smear issues forsakes much of that.

… But This One Sure Does!

As huge fans of this band, it was a major thrill for us to finally hear a copy that sounded as good as this one. Both sides really have the goods here: wonderful transparency, meaty bass, big time energy and lots of top end extension.

Drop the needle on the opening track “I Zimbra” and listen to how clear and correct the percussion sounds. On the average copy they might as well be banging on cardboard, but on a Hot Stamper like this you can clearly hear the sound of the skins.

Many copies make a mess of David Byrne’s voice, leaving him sounding pinched and edgy, but here the vocals are full-bodied, smooth, and present. There’s dramatically less grit and grain here than on most pressings, and the synths and effects all sounded just right to us.

One Of Our Very Favorite Bands Of This Era

We’re huge fans of late ’70s / early ’80s art-rock and new wave music, and these guys are obviously some of the best in the biz. I’d be hard pressed to name another act from the era who put out so many good records. Along with this album, More Songs About Buildings And Food, Remain In Light, and Little Creatures are all works of genius.

’77 is full of good ideas, but it doesn’t sound like a fully realized work of art the way the next four albums did.

Speaking In Tongues has some nice material, but doesn’t quite rank up there with their earlier stuff.

Limited Options

You can find Talking Heads albums in the bins of every used record store out there, but most of them just don’t sound good. If they did you’d see more of them hitting the site, that’s for sure. We love this band and their music and want everyone with a good stereo — this means you — to hear them at their best.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Zimbra
Mind
Paper
Cities
Life During Wartime
Memories Can’t Wait

Side Two

Air
Heaven
Animals
Electric Guitar
Drugs

AMG  Review

“By titling their third album Fear of Music and opening it with the African rhythmic experiment ‘I Zimbra’, complete with nonsense lyrics by poet Hugo Ball, Talking Heads make the record seem more of a departure than it is. Though Fear of Music is musically distinct from its predecessors, it’s mostly because of the use of minor keys that give the music a more ominous sound. Previously, David Byrne’s offbeat observations had been set off by an overtly humorous tone; on Fear of Music, he is still odd, but no longer so funny. At the same time, however, the music has become even more compelling.

“Worked up from jams (though Byrne received sole songwriter’s credit), the music is becoming denser and more driving, notably on the album’s standout track, “Life During Wartime,” with lyrics that match the music’s power. “This ain’t no party,” declares Byrne, “this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.” The other key song, “Heaven,” extends the dismissal Byrne had expressed for the U.S. in “The Big Country” to paradise itself: “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” It’s also the album’s most melodic song. Those are the highlights. What keeps Fear of Music from being as impressive an album as Talking Heads’ first two is that much of it seems to repeat those earlier efforts, while the few newer elements seem so risky and exciting. It’s an uneven, transitional album, though its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did.”