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Talking Heads

More Songs About Buildings And Food

The qualities of 77 (Talking Heads debut) were all bumped up a notch on the followup More Songs About Buildings And Food. Everything from the awkward title to production to album cover design seemed to put a knife in the back of the sophomore slump. Surely Brian Eno, by then a few years out of Roxy Music, is to be somewhat credited, but to a point. The songs and spirit of More Songs...seem very much a sequel to 77. As a band that would never sound very much like itself on each following album, More Songs...and 77 are perhaps the only twins of the Talking Heads family.

The cover is amazing. Easy to take for granted 29 years later, over 500 Polaroid close ups of areas of faces, arms and legs, assembled together, create a group portrait that is both inviting and monsterous. And the title - what could be more hilarious? If the band already had a utilitarian image going for it, this title nailed the name tag to the work shirt. One can imaging David or Chris making sandwiches for the band, spreading out the bread in two rows of four to make eight, then neatly applying each ingredient to each slice of bread, so that all the tomatoes are used first, then the cheese, then the sliced ham, and finally, the other eight slices of bread. But anything perfunctory is shot down, right outta the gate, by the opening number.

"Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" is without a doubt the most joyous, over the top exuberant album opener in the Heads catalog, maybe anybody's. David is singing high, clear and abandoned, sling-shotting his heart through the clouds on this one. For barely two minutes we are treated to one of the most jubilant rock songs ever recorded. And then it stops.

"Warning Sign" is another highlight, a bit dark but loveable, intense in a hooky way. And of course, "Take Me To The River" reinvents Al Green's version, while giving the Heads a smash hit for album number two. This album, though a bit punchier and developed, would not be different enough to win over any converts who did not care for 77. But if you listen closely, there are many subtle differences. This would be the last truly sparse, quirky guitar dominated album by Talking Heads. With More Songs...Talking Heads made it clear that, in spite of their great debut, their job was to keep exploring. And they weren't wasting any time; Songs...was released less than ten months after 77.  -  Bucks Burnett

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