Oxfam Jams #4

by Liam Hill

Talking Heads - 77

Forty years ago this month, David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison, also known as Talking Heads, released a debut album which would become one of the most definitive and inspirational albums of the New York new wave era. Undoubtedly enthusing and encouraging the likes of Blondie’s Parallel Lines and The Knack, Talking Heads: 77 is not only a brilliant album, it’s an important album.

For those unfamiliar with Talking Heads, their sound is brilliantly distinct. With jagged guitars, eccentric vocals and global influences, they created timeless hits, even from the outset. Tentative Decision for example showcases Byrne’s incomparable vocal, the steel pan and percussive arrangement of First Week/Last Week… Carefree encapsulates the wider inspirations for the band and the melodic bass line of the stupendous Psycho Killer highlights that not only are Talking Heads are band that embodied the alternative music scene, they also knew how to write an infectious pop hit.

77 is only a short album, coming in at less than 40 minutes. But it’s 40 minutes of near perfection. From the opening track Uh-Oh Love Comes To Town setting the scene of the beautifully imaginative creations of Talking Heads to the weirdly whacky ending, Pulled U,p resolving the album as an essential part of the history of alternative music, Talking Heads defied traditional pop rules whilst creating a purely brilliant pop album.

Following in the footsteps of Patti Smith, The Ramones and the likes from the New York scene that preceded them, the physical album itself also ranks as one of my favourites. Its simple yet bold. The block bright red cover instantly catches your eyes with the simplistically engaging italic ‘Talking Heads: 77’ hovering centrally at the top of the 12 inches of scarlet card in near Stabilo green. Whilst the copy with Oxfam has slight wear to the sleeve, it remains in one piece and it by and large in very good condition. The same can be said about the inner sleeve featuring two photos of the formally clad foursome overlaid with lyrics.

Talking Heads deliver an abstract, jaunty and somewhat minimalistic debut yet it is rife with excitement, engagement and thirst. Whilst the physical condition of this album is not mint, it is more than playable, and is incredibly reasonably priced. At only £6.99 it’s cheaper than buying it from iTunes, yet you also get the wonderful joy of a physical copy to either add to your record collection, decorate your room with or join a growing and endearing community of collectors.

On that note, I wish happy 40th birthday to the release of Talking Heads’ fantastic debut album and encourage you to give it a listen, whether it be for the first time or in honour of its anniversary.