David Byrne was the Seinfeld of song writing, taking the warped view of the mundane and every day. The lyrics on this album were each built from an idea, eg write a song where animals set a bad example, write a song about life during wartime, write a song about an electric guitar.
“I know that animals are laughing at us, don’t even know what a joke is”
1979, I think I need some help here. Think I was getting ready to leave for Europe, also think I was hanging around North Epping Baptist Church. I don’t remember where I was living, had probably left Eastwood, was no longer living in caravan in Carlingford, maybe living in North Epping, or Baulkham Hills. It was definitely pre-Darlinghurst days. I remember listening to this with Karen B and putting I Zimbra on mix-tapes. It was wonderfully ugly music, dense and heavy. Very unexpected, not at all similar to North Epping Baptists.
I was reminded this week that I was in a band called ‘The Anti-talents, our first gig was in this Church hall. One song we sang was the Troggs ‘Wild Thing’. Very silly, there are some things the memory won’t let go. The Anti-Talents were: Jenny C, Karla H, Georgina M, Nick P, Nick P (on drums), Adam ?(Robinson -thank you Niven) on bass, Mike ?(Hall – thanks again Niven) on lighting and too many more that I can’t remember. I do remember being too shy during rehearsals to sing in front of the band. All these memories are probably deeply coloured, not sure if they are real. [I’ve have just remembered, one rehearsal was a the Stiles house in North Epping. Maybe I was living there]
There is a tenuous link to all the above to The Talking Heads. Like Velvet Underground before them, Talking Heads inspired creativity – “if these guys can do it, anybody can”, hence the formation of “The Anti-Talents”, Epping’s first Folk Punk band (or were we Polk Funk?)
Back to the Talking Heads album, this sounded like important serious music in 1979. The music was built up from jams by Talking Heads and musos, tweaked and twisted by Brian Eno. The sparse guitar music from their earlier albums has vanished, to be replaced with dense African rhythms and treated instruments. The biggest change is the effects put on David Byrne’s voice. His voice, uncertain on previous albums, becomes manic and anxious here, giving an edge to these songs that unsettles.
This is still a good album and worth a listen, but very patchy. Lots of experimentation with structure and sound – which are not always successful. Stand out tracks for me are: I Zimbra, Life During Wartime, and Heaven. These still stand up well, the rest are interesting, but as an album, I wouldn’t put it on every month without skipping several tracks.
On the 1st of Feb, 2009 Marg and I saw David Byrne at the Opera House with songs from the Eno/Byrne album ‘Everything that happens, happens today’. Opening song, Heaven. The Opera House is a poor place to see a rock concert, the acoustic get muddled and you are removed from the performer (as compared to Sufjan Stevens @ the State Theatre – see 2010 posting). David Byrne and group had the Opera House on it’s feet and dancing. A great mix of dance and rock and concept.
Fear of Music is an important album for me, but not something that I would recommend to everyone. Sometimes memories can’t wait.