Talking Heads / Speaking in Tongues – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

More Talking Heads

White Hot Stampers discovered, hot enough to burn down the house! We just finished a HUGE shootout for the last great Talking Heads album and were as pleased as punch to finally hear a few copies of this album that deliver the same kind of magic that we’ve been getting on the better pressings of Little Creatures. Most copies of Speaking In Tongues are too flat, dry and veiled to get worked up about, but this one shows you that excellent sound for this album is indeed possible, albeit very difficult to find.

We’re serious Talking Heads fans here at Better Records, as you may have gathered by now. Not only is their music completely innovative and original, but their recordings are as well. That’s not to say that their records are Demo Discs along the lines of Tea For The Tillerman, Fragile or Abbey Road, but when you find a killer copy of any of their albums you can’t help but notice how much work they put into making them.

We played a ton of copies before we even heard a hint of the magic we were hoping for. Most of them sounded like CDs. When you turned up the volume, sure they got louder, but they didn’t really get any better. That’s a sure sign of a mediocre pressing, and it just kept happening over and over again in the shootout. Just as we were about to throw up our hands and give up, a copy hit the table with enough analog qualities to rope us back in. We added a little extra volume and started to hear the qualities that we needed from this music: rich, full mids; punchy bass; breathy vocals; and above all, ENERGY. On a Hot Stamper copy with the traits listed above, the music becomes involving and vital. If Burning Down The House doesn’t get you moving to the beat, what’s the point?

Both sides here give you just about everything you could ask for from this album, with side two really nailing it (A+++, As Good As It Gets) and side one performing strongly enough to earn an A++ grade. Both sides are lively and punchy with superb clarity and incredible immediacy. The sound on both sides opens up nicely, allowing you to really hear into the music and appreciate all the subtle details that get lost on the typical pressing.

The music, of course, is wonderful with a number of the band’s classics — Burning Down The House, Girlfriend Is Better, Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place) and Making Flippy Floppy, to name some of the more popular tracks. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this will be one of the best sounding records you ever hear, but I guarantee it blows away a huge majority of copies out there. Take a Hot Stamper pressing for a spin and you’ll be able to enjoy this great music without that mediocre ’80s sound spoiling all the fun.


Side One

Burning Down the House
Making Flippy Floppy
Girlfriend Is Better
Slippery People
I Get Wild / Wild Gravity

Side Two

Moon Rocks
Pull Up the Roots
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)

AMG  Review

Talking Heads found a way to open up the dense textures of the music they had developed with Brian Eno on their two previous studio albums for Speaking in Tongues, and were rewarded with their most popular album yet… Talking Heads’ preceding two albums seemed to have painted them into a corner, which may be why it took them three years to craft a follow-up, but on Speaking in Tongues, they found an open window and flew out of it.

More Reviews

Rolling Stone’s David Fricke lauded the album’s crossover nature, calling it “the album that finally obliterates the thin line separating arty white pop music and deep black funk.” He elaborated that the songs are all true art rock, with the complexity and sophistication of the genre, yet avoid art rock’s characteristic pretensions with a laid-back attitude and compelling dance rhythms, making it an ideal party album.

In 1989 the album was ranked number 54 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 best albums of the 1980s”. In 2012 Slant Magazine listed the album at number 89 on its list of “Best Albums of the 1980s”.