Think of it this way; before the release of this album (in 1977), there was no such thing as Talking Heads. Impossible to ponder! Yes, the band existed before that, but not before the eyes of the world. Best known for the hit single "Psycho Killer," 77 is loved by many equally for the album cover as well as the music. You can't get anymore stark or attention getting than this; both design and album title indicate a leaning toward the minimal, in a maximum kind of way. A 70's version of the The Beatles' 'white album' cover designed by David Byrne, no less. Before the mammoth growth, before the media made a star out of the vocalist, before new directions took its toll on the band, four young musicians named Chris, Tina, David and Jerry made a very fun record. It was unlike anything else then, as it also is now. Before this record was Important, it was really just a fun record made by four friends, which is all too easy to forget. It is perhaps burdened by its own reputation for greatness.
This record manages to exist within two directions of time; it is very much frozen in the place and era of its origin, New York City in the mid 1970's, and it simultaneously propels itself endlessly into the future, ala the obelisk in 2001. A pretentious thing to say, but this album was so forward-motivated upon its arrival (9/16/77), that it's still ahead of the rest of us. Even its four creators must continually find ways to compete with it. Think about it, has there ever been such a ground breaking debut release since? Even the amazing Discipline by King Crimson in 1981 was a reformation effort, and they got their new guitarist, Adrian Belew, from an older band...Talking Heads. Only The Smiths could manage to capture the torch when the Talking Heads were done.
Talking Heads were the last truly great, gigantic 'makin'-the-cover-of-Rolling-Stone' mainstream rock band (equaled only perhaps by XTC), and we are way overdue for the next badass mofo's who are gonna shake up our world. In the meantime, you can get nostalgic for the future with one of the greatest, funniest, and most daring albums ever made, Talking Heads:77.
- Bucks Burnett