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Talking Heads

Fear Of Music

This is the one where Talking Heads became an officially great band. Whereas the first two albums were wholly unique, this album finds the band stretching harder and going further - where no band had gone before. Their second collaboration with producer Brian Eno starts off with the hyper-jubilant "I Zimbra," their first full on embrace of world music. This song could've been sung by natives in Africa and might've been written by Paul Simon had the mid-80's happened before the late - 70's. It is an utterly fantastic chant and never fails to get one's blood going.

Equally fantastic is the futuristic "Life During Wartime" which for years was humorous until it predicted 9-11 with a fair degree of accuracy. A damned hummable tune, end of the world aside. This is the kind of song most bands spend their entire career waiting for and not getting. The Heads got it effortlessly and began writing the next several.

Not to say that this is a perfect album; almost a third of the songs are of a plodding nature, not really getting anywhere once they start. In particular, "Heaven," although a great concept lyrically of an unchanging utopia, seems to drag on for, excuse the pun, an eternity. "Electric Guitar" also is an example of a good idea underexplored. David sounds bored, so who can blame the listener for agreeing.

But even if the record were missing its grooves entirely, the album cover alone would be worth the price of admission. Designed by guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison, the cover mimics the heavy water meter lids found in sidewalks everywhere. The CD format simply cannot convey the dead on accuracy achieved by the LP embossing. In a discography that includes no weak design concepts, this cover takes first prize. Thanks to Mr. Harrison for creating a classic.

Fear Of Music is absolutely the turn taken by a band onto its path of irreversible greatness, toward new sounds, new realities. None of us have been the same since.  -  Bucks Burnett

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