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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Talking Heads FEAR OF MUSIC

On their third album, Talking Heads abandoned their minimalist art-punk sound for something much looser, darker and more intense. “The music had this disturbing hue to it”, remarked frontman David Byrne. Forty years on, Neil Crossley assesses the merits of this enduring masterpiece
The band’s New York cool prohibited smiling: (L-R) Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz and David Byrne

On the evening of 19 May 1977, the four members of the Ramones – one of the most hotly anticipated bands of the moment – were crammed into the dressing room at Eric’s, the venue on Liverpool’s Mathew Street right opposite the site of the legendary Cavern Club. Squatting on the loor in one corner of the dressing room, amid the assembled clothes, bags and touring ephemera, and quietly leaing through a magazine, was a rangy and intense 25-year-old called David Byrne, whose band Talking Heads were the support act that evening.

As contrasting line-ups go, the bill that night took some beating: the raw cathartic minimalism of the Ramones, preceded by the preppy, clean-cut crispness of Talking Heads. At irst glance, the only thing the two bands shared was the same label, Sire Records. But when Byrne and his band took to the stage that night, they displayed a ierce, unsettling intensity that was every bit as stark and confrontational as the headliners, and one which chimed efortlessly in those combative times.

Talking Heads were quirky and unique, blending punk, funk and disco into an enthralling hybrid all of its own. Their irst two albums were revelatory, eclectic and unique. But it was their third album, Fear Of Music, in 1979, that really set the band apart. On this release, Byrne looked inward to examine his own private, paranoid universe. The result is an album that, 40 years on, still resonates strongly.


Like countless bands across the decades, it was the liberal environs of art school, in this case Rhode Island School Of Design, that served as the breeding ground for the band that would become Talking Heads. It was there in the winter of 1974 that Byrne, born in Dumbarton, Scotland but raised in Maryland, USA, met Kentucky-born Chris Frantz, a fellow student and drummer. The pair formed a band called he Artistic. Within weeks, at Frantz’s request, they had recruited fellow RISD student and California native Tina Weymouth, an early admirer of the band. The bulk of their set was 60s covers with the occasional David Byrne composition included. One such composition would go on to become a classic.

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About Long Live Vinyl

It's Just Rock 'N' Roll! Issue 30 of Long Live Vinyl celebrates the 25th anniversary of Oasis' stellar debut album, Definitely Maybe. Our exclusive collector's covers, shot by Oasis photographer Michael Spencer Jones, allow you to choose between Noel and Liam editions – or buy both! Inside, some of the band's closest allies talk us through the making of an album that sold 7 million copies and changed the face of British guitar music. In our packed interviews section, we sit down with Black Francis to hear why new Pixies album Beneath The Eyrie is among the best records they've ever made, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard take a rare break from recording to talk us through their new LP, Infest The Rats' Nest. Elsewhere, we meet one of the hottest new bands of 2019, WH Lung, and the founders of Sub Pop, the Seattle label that put grunge on the map. You'll also find an in-depth look at Talking Heads' 1979 classic Fear Of Music as well as 40 Essential Dream Pop albums to add to your collection. If all that's not enough, we bring you the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue, turntable and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today…