Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Talking Heads 2: More Songs About Buildings And Food

For their second album, Talking Heads began a collaboration with Brian Eno that would dominate the next few years. For now, the change wasn’t a great departure, and they chose to underplay it with the mildly generic title More Songs About Buildings And Food.
For the most part, David Byrne still yowls like somebody with a severe neurological disorder. On “With Our Love”, whatever’s bothering him threatens to come to a head, but the change in dynamics of the chorus calms him down. Even if we’re not sure why “The Girls Want To Be With The Girls”, at least his guitar and Jerry Harrison’s organ blend well for a full sound.
After a while, Eno’s influence comes through: the clattering percussion on “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel”; the gang chorus on “The Good Thing”, credited to Tina and the Typing Pool; the processed drums on “Warning Sign”, the synths that take over “Stay Hungry”. Steel drums heard over the long fade of “Found A Job” seem to be the only connection to recording in the Bahamas.
Overall, it’s a danceable album, thanks to the rhythm section, starting at a boppy tempo and staying there for all of side one and most of side two. Unfortunately, that means a lot of the songs sound alike. The dramatic stops and starts in “I’m Not In Love” (not the 10cc song) are approximately where the albums starts to get out of its own way, made even more so with the relentless groove in between.
The final two tracks finally provide something different. The band’s slight deconstruction of Al Green’s “Take Me To The River” sounds very different from the rest of the album, almost as if they’re trying to impersonate another band. “The Big Country” has a sleepy slide guitar suggesting country music, with a more relaxed vocal and pointed lyrics (“I wouldn’t live there if you paid me”) that would soon become another trademark.
More Songs About Buildings And Food finds Talking Heads still developing. Then again, it was an era when the record labels let their artists figure it out as they went along. The expanded CD helps illustrate this, with a version of “Stay Hungry” left off the first album, and alternate versions of three other songs.

Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings And Food (1978)—3
2005 CD reissue: same as 1978, plus 4 extra tracks

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