The Giant Panther and I have many bands in common even though I sometimes appears that we don’t. One of the bands we both love is Talking Heads. The GP goes above and beyond even following David Byrne’s (at times) lackluster solo career. He’s an eclectic artist no doubt (David Byrne, not The Giant Panther), but once he left Talking Heads I struggled with his world beat rhythms and, dare I say it, his relative lack of commercial viability. I usually don’t make those kinds of pronouncements, but Byrne seems out there to me. I was eating at my friend’s brick oven pizza restaurant in the Fenway (Woody’s Grill at 58 Hemenway Street in Boston…no web site unfortunately) about five years ago when the bartender broke out David Byrne’s Daddy Go Down from his Feelings record. I’ll probably catch flak for this from the GP on down, but I hadn’t heard a David Byrne song I could get excited about since Talking Heads broke up. I’m sure that’s blasphemy in some circles, but it’s how I felt. But I rekindled my Byrne’s jones with Daddy Go Down. He probably considers it a throwaway track, but I loved it. If you get a chance to snag that one somewhere I highly recommend it, but that’s not what I came to talk about (as usual)…
I bought More Songs About Buildings and Food in late 1978 at a Midnight Madness Sale at Strawberries Records here in Boston. I think that franchise went under, but if it hasn’t it is surely no longer relevant. I was at a record show in Dedham, MA last week and was pleasantly surprised at all the audiophiles still pouring over albums and equipment. I bought a marbled colored Dave Mason (Alone Together) record from 1970 and an album frame for it. I took it home and without so much as playing it to see if it skipped, I poured it into the frame and hung it up on my wall. Old timers may remember the cover of the record as Dave Mason (ex of Traffic fame by then) in a top hat standing in front of a large rock formation with “Alone Together” written in chalk or neatly spray painted on a rock in the background. Not only is that a great record, but at the time it came in a multi colored vinyl that is no longer produced. It was a mini collector’s item and I always had a standard black copy. It was worth the trip out there just to bring home a piece of rock history. I know that sounds ridiculous, but for $7.50 (1/2 price!) it was a no brainer.
I guess my point is record albums were such an amazing concept. You just had true ownership with the artwork and in some cases the lyrics. You cared for the physical property or you wouldn’t get to listen to it anymore. Today, I can download the new Kings of Leon, listen to it a couple of times and barely glance at the microscopic artwork attached to the file. No producer information, no studio location, no guest artist information…heck no artist information. I could listen to it twice or three times if I’m lucky and patient and off I go to another artist. I have over 55 thousand songs on my hard drive now and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what could be there. It wasn’t like that with vinyl and I’m not one of those people who pine over the old days at all. I do pine for the days when artists got the full undivided attention of their audience at 20-25 minutes a side. Even if I play one album a year I’m so glad I didn’t sell them back in the 80′s. It’s old school (insert joke here)!
More Songs About Building and Food was Talking Heads second album. I honestly think this is my favorite Heads record. They began to pick up the pace and do a little bit more rocking. It was still wicked art school eclectic, but it was a bit more accessible. They did a cover of Al Green’s Take Me To The River and that is the song that the masses would know this record for, but not me. I loved songs like Found a Job and Warning Sign, but the song I always come back to, and frankly might be my very favorite Talking Heads song ever, is The Big Country. It’s always on my iPod like device and I never ever get sick of hearing it. I remember it getting cursory airplay on WBCN and WCOZ in here in Boston at the time, but by the time the next record, Fear of Music, was released in 1979 it was all over for The Big Country. I don’t think I’ve heard it on commercial radio in decades. Let’s face it; the Talking Heads legacy is monstrous. They owned AOR radio from 1978 to 1984. No need to name the flat awesome individual tracks, but I will say that their “B” cuts are the ones to hone in on. The first three records are loaded with them. They are what makes Talking Heads such a great band. You can only hear the hits so often. Love live the music of Talking Heads!