Talk Talk

When you take a listen to today’s music you probably think to yourself “hm, seems like most of the great ones aren’t around anymore”, and you’d be right. There’s a lot of great music out there produced by bands who disapperated long before their time (while those fuckers in Third Eye Blind soldier on). On the one hand, it is sad to have missed the opportunity to see them in the flesh. You blew it! For a lot of 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s acts (depending on how old you are) you could have seen them if you’d have just known about them when. But take heart–this is a great time to look more closely at any pop act of the period as whatever audio and video they produced is easy to find and watch.

I’ve been on a real Talk Talk binge lately. I liked them ever since Allie got me Natural History in the early 90’s, when I was just becoming musically aware. It’s a great compilation, and you don’t have to take my word for it because you can stream it for free on YouTube.

The band had commercially ceased to exist by that point and I didn’t get any more of their stuff for a long time, but over the last few years I’ve gotten most of their albums, and seeing the band develop over time is something else. They started out pretty synth-y and drum machine-y, and if you squint they look a little like fringe members of the New Romantic set. But by the mid-80’s they’d become something else entirely. Songs got longer, more musically varied, more organic. For me, the peak was probably 1986’s The Colour of Spring and, wouldn’t you know it, it is also free to stream on YouTube.

After this the band got more adventuresome and less conventional. There’s beautiful stuff there but it is generally less accessible to me, and it drove the record companies crazy because they couldn’t figure out how to get a single out of it. I like them best right in the middle, at the peak of their career, like a slugging corner outfielder with a standard aging curve. I got Asides Besides, the B-sides and rare tracks double CD (what’s a CD?) set, a few weeks ago, and it has some more music from that period that I’d never previously heard. I think Disc 2 of the set would be my second favorite Talk Talk album if it were an actual album. The piano version of Call In the Night Boy is a lot better than the original, and if you look in the YouTube comments apparently the guy who played the piano on this track has showed up and made a few comments.

For What It’s Worth is like a really good Roxy Music Avalon-period song. You can’t have too much really good Roxy Music if you ask me. Singer Mark Hollis has a distinctive voice that might be expected to produce strong reactions; I really like it, and like Thom Yorke’s, the fact that I generally can’t tell what the lyrics of most Talk Talk songs are is probably a positive.

The whole back half of the set is really stunning. And you can stream that too.

I give all of these albums five Pochaccos and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

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