Front Cover is a Life-Size Photomosaic

th_web2Talking Heads
More Songs About Buildings and Food
Sire Records

Talking Heads records shouldn’t be passed up if you’re lucky enough to find them out there in the wild. Especially their pre-Remain in Light output, which is material that is must-have quirky.

More Songs About Buildings and Food was the band’s first with producer Brian Eno, who knew just how to exploit lead singer David Byrne’s hyperactive persona and choppy guitar riffs – in fact, this is an electric guitar record. But in ’78 you didn’t hear electric guitar played the way it is on this album.

If you have it, put it on and listen with ears from 1978 – its a mind-bender. And, if you did hear it back then it was probably worrisome and troubling and disturbing – though its none of these things now in 2016. What did you listen to in ’78? If you were STUCK, like me, you probably listened to Charlie Daniels, Jackson Browne or any other sounds of safety. I’m sorry I missed that whole CBGB influence but I was raised in suburban Geneva, IL and, unless you were slightly more adventurous (or had a sibling or friend who was), Talking Heads wasn’t even on the radar.

My first exposure to Talking Heads was in 1980 when I bought Remain in Light and my life changed because of this record. I started there and moved to the band’s obscure live double LP The Name of this Band is Talking Heads and then, in ’83, Speaking in Tongues. Then I jumped back to Fear of Music because, for me, post-Speaking in Tongues (except Stop Making Sense), the Heads became too radio-friendly and their fan base annoyed me – ‘music for college-bred intellectuals’ and the like. Not the Heads fault, certainly, but the ‘fans’ turned me off to the band.

So when I ran into More Songs About Buildings and Food at my local Naperville Half Price Books, I actually debated with myself if I should drop $10 on this or $10 in PIL’s Album.

So I asked myself – which album will probably have more listenable longevity for me. Album has the fantastic song Rise and the players on the record include Steve Vai and Ginger Baker. Lydon’s voice is also stellar on this disc. It has been on my hit-list for a long time.

Yet…my mind went back to my initial love for the Heads and, since this was their first excursion with Eno and was before Remain in Light and included the coolest rendition of Take Me to the River…and the iconic jacket artwork, which is a life-size photomosaic of Talking Heads that consisted of 529 close-up Polaroids….plus I’ve never seen it in local used stores until this encounter at HPB..and, oh yeah, The Big Country…so, shithead, I thought…More Songs About Buildings and Food is the clear winner.

There won’t be any debate of this sort when I finally encounter Talking Heads: 77. PIL or not…

© 2016 Chris Barry


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