Sun Spin: Remain In Light


Remain In Light (1980), the fourth album from Talking Heads is arguably one of the single most important albums of the past quarter century, and the crown atop one of the greatest three-album streaks in rock's history. A cross continental, genre slashing, funky throw down, Light illuminates the tumultuous, anxious atmosphere of the '80s on the eve of their arrival. With a P.O.V. that was both prescient and eerily eternal, the album encapsulates a great deal about modernity, social disassociation and the ongoing blending of musical cultures brought about by an ever-shrinking globe.

Yesterday was bassist-singer Tina Weymouth's 58th birthday, and the occasion affords us a chance to look back at the band Talking Heads, which the years following their dissolution have often slanted to view of "David Byrne and those other people." All songwriting credits on Remain In Light are attributed to Byrne, Weymouth, Chris Frantz (drums), Jerry Harrison (guitar, keys, vox) and producer Brian Eno. A fully collaborative feel permeates and it makes one sigh that it was Eno's final effort behind the boards, following the nearly-as-brilliant More Songs About Buildings & Food (1978) and Fear of Music (1979). With Weymouth in particular, there's much to be said about the impact of her positively insinuating bass work, two-fingered keyboard stabs and girlish chirp – a terrific and often uncredited counterpoint to Byrne's manly mumble – on Light, not to mention the myriad other touches Frantz, Harrison and guesting fellow travelers like Adrian Belew (guitar), Jon Hassell (trumpet, effects) and Nona Hendryx (backing vox) add to the album. This is FAR from a Byrne solo construction.

Bands of every stripe - American, African and otherwise – are still living out the ripples cast by Remain In Light almost 30 years on. It remains a thrilling listening experience that never feels dated despite its age. Byrne quickly positioned himself as "the mastermind" of the band soon afterwards, beginning to stake out his claim on Speaking In Tongues (1983) but quickly moving to the sole songwriter credit by Little Creatures (1985) and True Stories (1986). Even tossing the others a "Music by" nod on Naked (1988) couldn't reignite the group dynamics that fueled Light and their earlier releases. As much as any tremendous novel or film, this album is a wide-angle sweep of contemporary life that's at once joyously busy and tremulously scary.

Track listing:

Side One
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
Crosseyed and Painless
The Great Curve

Side Two
Once in a Lifetime
Houses in Motion
Seen and Not Seen
Listening Wind
The Overload

Just as the album begins, we launch the visual portion of our remembrance with "Born Under Punches," captured at a blazing show in Rome in 1980. Adrian Belew is delightfully unhinged here. And check an equally devastating "Crosseyed and Painless" from the same concert here.

Speaking of "Crosseyed," here's Phish on German television in 1997 doing the track, which provides a kind of blueprint for a certain school of jamming followed by Phish, RAQ and many others in the years after Remain In Light.

We dial the time machine back to 1980 for the Heads on German TV doing "Once In A Lifetime."

One more piece of Phish for y'all: "The Overload" from their legendary Halloween '96 show.

Returning to Rome on that amazing 1980 Talking Heads European tour, we conclude with the ants-under-your-clothes jitter of "The Great Curve."

[Published on: 11/23/08]

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peaton Sun 11/23/2008 11:35AM
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Best band of the 80's. I wish Byrne would come around and reform them though. I'm diggin the new Byrne and Eno though. "Strange Overtones" is one catchy tune.

1048 starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/23/2008 11:51AM
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Remain in Light is one of the best records of all time.

iwantstogetfunkedup Sun 11/23/2008 12:32PM
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That clip of Phish doing Crosseyed is sick!!!

Tpetty starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/23/2008 12:41PM
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Cant Wait to see David Bryne this friday!

oldfartatplay starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/23/2008 12:50PM
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great talking heads clips, love this line-up with adrian belew, this guy walks on fucking water, seriously, check out catching his appearance with primus was a surprise highlight of bonnaroo '04.

iwantstogetfunkedup Sun 11/23/2008 02:10PM
+10 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Glasssworks- Noone gives a fuck that you're going to see Phish or that you're a homophobic dipshit.

michaeljackson Sun 11/23/2008 04:12PM
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Glassworks, please upload a picture of yourself so I can kick your ass and give your tickets to someone else at Hampton. Thanks.

Jokerman starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/23/2008 04:13PM
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Props for listing the tracks as they appear on the vinyl and props for acknowledging how much this was "a band" album and not just "a byrne" effort.

robbot Sun 11/23/2008 05:48PM
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Tina is hot

Flat5 starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/23/2008 09:32PM
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schofizzl Mon 11/24/2008 12:13AM
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lol glassworks doesn't have any friends, rofl.

alw7 Mon 11/24/2008 04:01AM
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This just in researchers discover that glassworks is an idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

redhed starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/24/2008 06:31AM
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"the feeling returns whenever we close our eyes" Love the Heads. This Just In: Talking Heads, Phish, Roger Waters, Prince, and Sly to headline the festival in my mind.

mmmFriedFrogLegs Mon 11/24/2008 07:56AM
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one of my favorite talking heads albums, second only to "speaking in tongues' actually .great album. great band. unique and prolific psychedelic funk. also david byrne has the best dance moves in the business ;) happy belated b-day to tina, who is actually in my top 10 bass players of all time list. and phish halloween '96 is absolutely amazing

kirkbrew starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/24/2008 09:16AM
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That Rome 80 show is out there on the torrents. It is really good. Tina is freakin hot and Belew tears it up.

And if you have not seen Byrne on the latest tour, DO IT!!! Incredible show. Houses in Motion was amazing.

As for Phish, love the band...but their Crosseyed sucked. VOcals terrible and they never really took the song anywhere. All totally dwarfed by the Heads - but that shows you how amazing the Talking Heads were as a band. Stop Making Sense has yet to be equaled in any way, shape or form.

TheJuice starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/24/2008 09:44AM
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I bet tina still looks more better than a plate of neckbones. I've got the rome DVD from some site. Maybe here

tons of bootleg dylan/beatles/stones/hendrix and other random audio and video

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/24/2008 09:45AM
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I wish I could have seen the Heads live... Love me some Crosseyed and Painless!

futhepharmer starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/24/2008 09:50AM
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I've always said that Talking Heads should reform and do the festival circuit. They would be THE ultimate headliner. I would defy even the most lethargic among us to not dance to that.

Talk about a band that was years ahead of it's time. The african rythyms that permeate this album have become requisite with many of todays most danceable bands. This record blew my mind when I first heard (especially because it was such a departure for them. way differant then Fear of Music). The uncomparable Adrien Belew was a definate plus. His insane solos on The Great Curve are unbelievable.

Like I said...years ahead of their time.

On another note.

Glassworks...boasting about your phish ticket again and again. You probably had to spend all of the money that you stole from your parents to get those WAY overpriced tickets. I hope they don't kick you out of the house.

mikemac9317 Mon 11/24/2008 10:41AM
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Glassworks=douchebag #1! Well done on getting tickets, we all know that you are going, now stop beating off to Phish and talk about the Talking Heads. This is a great write up on one of the best albums I have ever owned.

theguykeator Mon 11/24/2008 12:21PM
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Crosseyed and Cities are two all time funky tunes. Great band!

kirkbrew Tue 11/25/2008 05:55AM
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Heads will never get back together. Byrne does not associate with the rest of he band. Apparently, there were some real problems between them when they got back together to play R+R Hall. I have heard that they played and that they didn't. Not sure what happened, but afterward, Tina said something like: "Byrne is an ass. Unless he thinks that you are of use to him, he will not have anything to do with you." She also said something to the effect of "Byrne, Eno and Bowie will be each other's only friend because they are the only people who think that the others are as smart as they are."

But I MUCH rather see the Heads get together than Phish. In 20 years, the Heads will be revered for how they changed music and art. If Phish is remembered, it would be for breaking up/getting together over and over and the string of unoriginal sound alikes they left behind.

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/25/2008 10:38AM
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Those clips from the Rome concert have an unbelievable amount of energy that make me want to rush right on over to Amazon and purchase that DVD.