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30 Best Loved Albums - More Songs About Buildings and Food

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #24 of the list...

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24. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978)

As a follow up to their critically acclaimed but generally overlooked first album, the Talking Heads enlisted Brian Eno of Roxy Music to produce an album that would capture the Heads’ manic stylings and suffuse it with a funky dance beat. The end result was More Songs About Buildings and Food and an album that not only beat the dreaded “Sophomore Slump? but sent the Talking Heads off in a musical direction that would be much deeper explored in their follow-up albums Fear of Music and Remain in Light.

During the early to mid-80’s I listened to this album all the time. It was great headphone music and was great at parties. The album was solid from start to finish, had a hit everyone know with Take Me to the River, and was an album that generally guys and the ladies liked equally. As I started to transfer my music away from albums to CDs however, More Songs kind of got lost in the shuffle and besides hearing Take Me to the River on the radio, I probably didn’t even think about this album for a good 15-18 or years. By that time I was trying to fill my I-Pod with music and remembered how much I liked this album. It immediately became a must have.

I’ve always liked the Talking Heads rhythm section with Chris Frantz on drums and Tina Weymouth on bass guitar and Eno really showcases them in More Songs. This is one funky album and there isn’t a song that doesn’t have interesting drum work, highly compressed snares, or other percussional tricks. Tina anchors each song with a heavy base that typically overshadows the lead guitar. David Byrne’s lyrics are as geeky as ever and it’s this album that really cemented his reputation as a nerdy musical stylist.

Although the entire album is excellent, it’s the 4th track that really gets me. Warning Signs is a trippy song with dense lyrics and some real cool guitar work. The opening is classic as the bass and guitar take turn introducing the song and only after a good 65 seconds do the lyrics come in and they sound as though they are being sucked out of David Byrne’s mouth. The guitar in the song Artist Only has a cool punked up Velvet Underground riff while I always imagined that the next two songs, I’m Not In Love and Stay Hungry, were mainstays at trippy NYC art school parties where the booze, pills, and drugs were just as important to what was playing on the turntable or what you were wearing. Take Me to the River isn’t the strongest song on the album, but the most famous and is an excellent cover of the Al Green Motown standard.

The album ends with the song, Big Country and it has David Byrne in an airplane looking down at the country as he blandly describes the dull life that is going on below. The song is an indictment of consumerism in general and specifically a slam of generic modern day suburban life. The chorus is about as biting as any kiss off ever Bob Dylan sang (I wouldn’t live there if you paid me/I wouldn’t live there no ah sir-ee/I wouldn’t do things the way those people do/I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to). The song ends in baby-talk as David sings out goo goo ga ga ga in unison with Chris Frantz’ staccato drums.

As an album of full of great songs and an album that laid the groundwork for further Talking Heads greatness, More Songs about Buildings and Food deserves a place on my most beloved 30 albums. What do you think of the album or of the Talking Heads?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List

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