Musicheads Essential Artists: Talking Heads

Talking Heads
For their hybrid approach to new wave and experimental music, Talking Heads are a Muischeads Essential Artist (Courtesy of the artist / MPR graphic)

Each day during Minnesota Public Radio's Spring Member Drive, The Current will highlight a different artist who has made a significant contribution to the music world and a lasting impression on the music we listen to today. We call them Musicheads Essential Artists.

Art-rockers? Intellectual pop band? New wavers? Experimental funkateers? World-music popularizers? Talking Heads has earned those and many other hybrid categorizations. From their formation in NYC in 1975 to their fractious dissolution in 1991 (three years after their last album, Naked), the band's music was always evolving, bookended by the early twitchy and tightly-wound minimalist riffs and the expansive splendor of their polyrhythmic pulses and lush sonic palette. The focal point was David Byrne, the guitarist/vocalist/primary songwriter who combined an agitated stage presence with rather idiosyncratic vocals, and was vitally complemented by bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Harrison. Their restless creativity powered engaging and idiosyncratic songs that stimulated the brain and the body. Talking Heads' ambitious work inspired U2 (who opened for them on a 1980 U.K. tour) and Radiohead (whose name came from a Heads song), and their influence can be heard in the widescreen works by LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, and Vampire Weekend. Talking Heads still sound as fresh — and essential — as they did when they debuted nearly four decades ago. – Lou Papineau, Minnesota Public Radio member

Fun fact: Before moving to NYC in 1974, Byrne, Frantz, and Weymouth lived in Providence, R.I., and had a band called the Artistics.

Essential albums: Talking Heads: 77, Fear of Music, Remain In Light

Essential tracks: "Life During Wartime," "Once In a Lifetime," "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)"

The Current's Mark Wheat on Talking Heads:

Musicheads Essential Artists


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