Friday, October 08, 2010

Happy Birthday Remain In Light

The Talking Head's fourth album, Remain in Light, was released on October 8, 1980, making it exactly 30 years old today. I was 11, and I have to confess I was not quite a hip enough eleven-year-old to have picked up the album on the day of release. I became a fan of the band in 1983 after hearing "Burning Down the House" and quickly started exploring their band's back catalog (probably by taking advantage of my Columbia House membership).

Remain In Light, along with the Eno-Byrne collaboration My Life In the Bush of Ghosts and the first Tom Tom Club album, all had a major impact on my evolving taste in music at that time. The sense of adventure, and the combination of playfulness and high-art seriousness of these projects all went a long way toward convincing me that music could be more than whatever happened to be on the radio in the background, but something to be listened to seriously and followed passionately. In that respect, the Talking Heads were probably the first band that I actually became a fan of as opposed to merely making music I happened to like.

Totally by coincidence, I listened to the first Tom Tom Club album on my way to work this morning after having needledropped my LP last night (I had already ripped Remain in Light and My Life In the Bush of Ghosts to my iPod). I have to say, 30 years on, while this music does sound a bit like a time capsule from the early eighties, I believe it holds up as music, art and entertainment remarkably well. In many ways it still sounds more forward-looking, open and even futuristic, than any of the new music I am hearing these days (mainstream or otherwise).


Mark said...

I've been on a HUGE Talking Heads kick the last month or so, having acquired (and in some cases, reacquiring) all of their albums (through Little Creatures) on CD. I've found all of the original Sire CDs (the non-remastered/reissued ones) in the $7.99 bins at a few local music retailers. (What can I say, I'm old and still like purchasing physical copies of music).

I appreciate Remain in Light more now than I did in the '80s, perhaps because it was so ahead of its time that it took a simpleton like me an extra 25 years to catch up! (Perhaps the African polyrythms for a bit too much for my small town Midwestern self of the mid '80s).

I, too, got into Talking Heads based on exposure to "Burning Down the House," which in 1983 was about the wierdest music video I'd ever seen at the time (right up there with David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes"). Thank heavens for early '80s cable TV.

Of the other albums, the one I'm really into right now is "Fear of Music," particularly the track, "Mind"--which I haven't been able to get out of, mind, for days now.

Anyway, nice post, great band, and great album.

Unknown said...


I've learned 2 things from Jonathan Lethem's not-so-hot 33 1/3 'essay' on 'Fear Of Music'; that someone else heard those radio promo spots for 'FOM' & 'Remain In Light'...and that your blog exists. It's a great one, & I'm happy to have found it.

All this by way of trying to find posts for those 2 ads, which led me to the L.A. Review Of Books interview from 3 months ago and what looks like deleted links from you of those radio spots.

Is it true? Do you actually have share?

By the way, just finished reading Bryan Waterman's 33 1/3 book on 'Marquee Moon' & John Niven's novella treatment of 'Music From Big Pink'. Both are excellent!

All the best,