Talking Heads gradually become known for the avant-garde nature of the band publicly, especially of their front-man and main lyricist David Byrne. In a quirky mock-interview he conducts with himself over the release of their ‘Stop Making Sense’ concert DVD (below), he shows us through his mockery that Talking Heads aren’t another media-manufactured, profit guzzling sell-out band. When asked when they will tour again (by himself), Byrne says “When there is something new to say”. Yet it’s funny how 18-years later Byrne stayed true to this sentiment, refusing to tour with ex-band members after their mini-reunion in 2002 because he saw it as simply profiting off the band’s name.
Throughout their incredible influence of American ‘New-Wave’, primarily through the 1980′s, Talking Heads left a significant mark on the industry. So much so in fact, that the globally-recognised band Radiohead adopted their name from the TH track ‘Radio Head’ from their 1986 ‘True Stories’ album. In 2002, each of the four members were inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’, where together they played a few of their major hits after having disbanded in 1992. Rolling Stone placed four Talking Heads albums in their ’500 Greatest Albums of All-Time’, and ranked them #100 in the ’100 Greatest Artists of All-Time’.
Only 5-minutes of TH’s 1984 ‘Stop Making Sense’ Concert will make you a fan:
Their surf/punk-rock sound was that of the most “compelling music” of the 1980′s, to quote David Bowie, and acted as major inspiration for iconic artists such as Kurt Cobain and many others. It was their 1993 break-up that allowed Nirvana to complete the job that Pixies had started; to ignite a wave of alternative-rock throughout the UK and across Europe. Their construction of seemingly simple, yet now-infamous tracks like “Here Comes Your Man” or “Where Is My Mind” reflects the purity of their dynamics as a band, despite the conflict they at times had with each other personally. Much of the controversy that surrounded Pixies had to do with the direction of the band’s music at the beginning of the 1990′s. With bassist Kim Deal wanting to incorporate more of her own songs into the band’s live shows and albums, tension began to form between her, Francis and Santiago, leading to their split.
Pixies brought us emotionally roaring choruses, and warming imperfect melodies with rememberable, quirky lyrics from the combined minds of four musically-gifted musicians. The 1991 album ‘Trompe le Monde’ was their last-released album before the break-up, despite their reformation in 2004 to play several incredible live shows across the UK and Australia for the first time. Rumours of a reunion album were quickly dismissed through, revolving around Kim Deal’s reluctance towards the idea. Yet speculation began to stir during May, 2011, after Santiago told ‘The Guardian’ that after they finish touring, it could “be time”.
Time to just sit back and wait.
An iconic performance of ‘Hey’ in 1988, at the Town & Country Club, London:
An advocate for underground-music, Kurt Cobain is one credited with bringing widespread recognition to Daniel Johnston. After photographed wearing one of his trademark ‘Hi, How Are You’ shirts at the 1992 MTV Music Awards, speculation on the man exploded. In an era before the internet, this was a gigantic, yet momentary, spotlight on Johnston, where beforehand his only notoriety had come from handing out his cassettes to people at shows. At the time though, Johnston has just been released after a year being forcefully institutionalised. The reason? While being flown by his father in a small two-seater plane, Johnston suffered a manic delusion and believed he was Casper the Friendly Ghost. He then went on to wrestle for control of the plane, took the keys from the ignition and threw them out the window. Luckily, his father was able to crash-land amongst some trees, almost killing them and leaving the plane in shreds.
The insanity of Johnston’s life is uncontrollably mesmerising, and I can only beg that more people watch the incredibly-made documentary on him, ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’. The documentary covers the breadth of his life, his personality, his music, his idols and his dreadful, suffocating delusions. It covers his obsession with the Beatles, and John Lennon especially, a love reflected in his track ‘Lennon Song’. Johnston is an actual rarity, not with his own take on a genre or style, but just simply attempts to control his demons through an avenue he knows how too; music.
Johnston’s MTV performance, completely nervous, but with an adoring crowd:
B.B. King’s mother left his father before he’d grown past age 10, and was brought up by his religious mother and grandmother. It was a preacher who saw King’s interest in the guitar, and taught him his first ever lesson; teaching the E, A and B chords. His mother died when King was 10, and his grandmother at 15, leaving King to take control of his own and barely survived on a pitiful working salary. ‘We were poor people’ King stated to David Letterman in an interview about his life & childhood, confiding that always he was hoping that ‘one day we’d be better off than we were then’. This innate drive of King hasn’t left him still at age 86, where he still tours the globe and performs, having seen over 15,000 performances and only 3 months of holiday in 48 years.
Being an early pioneer of blues on electric guitar through his methods of fluid string bending and bringing an almost noble class to soloing, King is a pure musician’s musician. Guitar-God Jimi Hendrix listened to his father’s B.B King albums as a child and gives credit to him for his blues-styled method of playing, which of course led him to the no.1 guitarist spot by ‘Rolling Stone’. Yet King proudly and almost obviously declares himself as a ‘Sinatra-nut’, respecting him greatly for how many ‘white-only’ venues he brought black-artists into.
Other known musicians who credit B.B. King as their influence are George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter and figuratively every blues-inspired guitarist to-date.
The King of Blues presenting ‘The Thrill is Gone’: