Wednesday, October 8, 1980

Talking Heads released Remain in Light: October 8, 1980

Originally posted October 8, 2012.

image from musicchartheaven.com


Release date: 8 October 1980
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) / Crosseyed and Painless / The Great Curve / Once in a Lifetime / Houses in Motion / Seen and Not Seen / Listening Wind / The Overload

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 0.5 world

Peak: 19 US, 21 UK

Rating:


Review: In 1980, “Talking Heads fans were pleasantly stunned to hear Remain in Light,” AZ “a fuller, funkier sound nobody imagined they had in them.” AZ “Who knew that geeky former art student had this much soul?” BL David Byrne and “Talking Heads were always bursting with nervous energy and interesting ideas,” BL but by “adding horns and guest performers to their intellectually based muse” CL they “married their new-wave idiosyncrasies to Afro-funk beats and grooves that drew on everything from James Brown to Fela Kuti to disco.” BL Suddenly “the avant-punk avatars became polyrhythmic pop magicians.” RS500

The “animated David Byrne” CL “chanted and sang his typically disconnected lyrics” AMG “suggesting just enough to create a definite image and occasionally even an interesting sociological point, but never annoying or heavy-handed.” JA Meanwhile the group was “held together musically by a mathematically precise rhythm section of Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drums).” CL Thanks to “the studied adventurousness” RS500 of Brian Eno as both producer and a composer, the Talking Heads “compositions and styles are deconstructed then reassembled afresh.” CL “Eno’s formula includes choppy funk bass, weird synth noises, dense layers of polyrhythmic percussion, and repetitive song structures that after a while lull the listener into a near trance.” JA

Crosseyed and Painless

“The dreamy, energetic Crosseyed and Painless is a great example. Better yet, he recruits whiz kid Adrian Belew to contribute some completely wacky guitar solos (The Great Curve)” JA Those two and Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) “are long, layered, full-body dance parties, with incessantly repeated phrases (musical and lyrical), and increasingly catchy melodic hooks that won’t let go for days.” AZ

Then there are “the bizarre horn arrangment on Houses in MotionJA and the “Eno-like droner The Overload.” AZ Eno had worked earlier on some of David Bowie’s records, but the Talking Heads “are an even better foil for him” JA as they go for “full-blown sound collages.” JA

That’s never more apparent “than on the exquisite Once in a Lifetime,” CL “the greatest song Byrne will ever write.” RC The song “suggests a pan-international sound without expressing it aurally. Post-modern alienation was never so danceable.” CL The single flopped initially, but “a striking video, its inclusion in the band’s 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, and its second single release (in the live version) because of its use in the 1986 movie Down and Out in Beverly HillsAMG finally led to it scraping the bottom of the American charts.

Once in a Lifetime

The album was a “New Wave watershed” RS500 offering evidence that “Talking Heads were connecting with an audience ready to follow their musical evolution” AMG which was “clear-eyed, detached, almost mystically optimistic.” RC


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Friday, October 3, 1980

The Police released Zenyatta Mondatta

First posted 3/22/2008; updated 10/6/2020.

Zenyatta Mondatta

The Police


Released: October 3, 1980


Peak: 5 US, 14 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: new wave/alternative rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me [4:04] (9/19/80, 10 US, 11 AR, 2 CL, 1 UK, 2 CN, 3 AU)
  2. Driven to Tears [3:20] (3/28/81, 35 AR, 14 CL)
  3. When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around [3:38] (21 CL)
  4. Canary in a Coalmine [2:26] (13 CL)
  5. Voices Inside My Head [3:53] (33 CL)
  6. Bombs Away (Copeland) [3:09]
  7. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da [4:09] (10/25/80, 10 US, 4 CL, 5 UK, 5 CN, 6 AU)
  8. Behind My Camel (Summers) [2:54]
  9. Man in a Suitcase [2:19]
  10. Shadows in the Rain [5:02]
  11. The Other Way of Stopping (Copeland) [3:22]

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 38:16


The Players:

  • Sting (vocals, bass)
  • Andy Summers (guitar)
  • Steward Copeland (drums)

Rating:

4.136 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the finest rock albums of all time.” – Greg Prato, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

The Police’s first two albums reached the top 30 in the U.S. and were platinum sellers, but one could be forgiven for thinking they might not do much better. From a singles standpoint, their only entries on the Billboard Hot 100 had been the top-40 hit “Roxanne” and “Message in a Bottle” which stalled all the way down at #74.

They were much more successful in their native UK where their debut album Outlandos D’Amour reached #6 and the follow-up, Regatta De Blanc went to #1, thanks to two #1 singles with with “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon.” The came Zenyatta Mondatta. The album title is comprised of two made-up words. Stewart Copeland said, “It’s not an attempt to be mysterious, just syllables that sound good together.” WK

The music must have sounded pretty good to UK and U.S. audiences. It was the band’s second consecutive #1 album in the UK and gave them another #1 single with Don’t Stand So Close to Me. This time, however, the Police were ready to break big in America as well.

The “haunting” AMG “Don’t Stand” single spun a tale of a teacher lusting after a student, a la Lolita (a book referenced in the lyrics). Despite its creepy theme, the beat was undeniable and the U.S. public sent the song into the top 10. The album followed suit, reaching #5. Come Grammy time, voters named the song Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

“ While other tracks follow in the same spooky path (their second Grammy-winning instrumental Behind My Camel and Shadows in the Rain), most of the material is upbeat.” AMG That includes Canary in a Coalmine, Man in a Suitcase, and “the carefree De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.” AMG The latter, the second single from the album, proved “Stand” wasn’t a fluke hit as it followed it into the top-10 in the U.S. There were even bigger hits to come with their next two albums.

Like its predecessors, Zenyatta showed the band’s reggae and punk influences. However, this was also Sting’s first foray into more “politically charged lyrics.” AMG Driven to Tears offered up commentary on poverty while Bombs Away referred to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. WK Those and When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around “all observe the declining state of the world.” AMG

The album was recorded in four weeks during the Police’s second tour. The band members were disappointed with the end result because of the time pressures. Sting expressed that the album was “not all it could have been.” AMG and Stewart Copeland said, “We had bitten off more than we could chew…we finished the album at 4 a.m. on the day we were starting our next world tour.” WK They even went so far as to re-record the two singles in 1986, releasing the new version of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” on their Every Breath You Take – The Singles compilation.

The Police may not have been satisfied, but the critics were. All Music Guide’s Greg Prato calls it “one of the finest rock albums of all time.” AMG Rolling Stone’s David Fricke called it “near-perfect pop by a band that bends all the rules and sometimes makes musical mountains out of molehill-size ideas.” WK

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