Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Songs About Buildings And Food Show # 440

In 1978, Talking Heads released their second full-length album More Songs About Buildings And Food. The album was the first to feature producer and future collaborator with the band Brian Eno (it was the first of many releases with Eno). Overall the album is much different than their debut Talking Heads: 77. While the album still emphasized David Byrne’s neurotic and nervous energy, the band and music as a whole is more fleshed out from the soul, garage and funk influences that Talking Heads introduced to us in their debut album. Lyrically, Talking Heads were always different than other bands of that era and on More Songs About Buildings And Food, they seemed to focus on lyrics surrounding a certain feeling that is at times serious, but also sometimes executed with a humorous wit. The overall lyrical and music structure on More Songs About Buildings And Food was perhaps best described by Ken Emerson’s Rolling Stone review of the album in 1978 as “a triumph over diversity, while the words spell out defeat by disparities between mind and body, head and heart.”

More Songs About Buildings And Food
back cover - Portrait U.S.A.
The album starts off with “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” a song that displays the rhythm section of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth in top form. The bass and drum section is highlighted on this album in more detail and this song shows the first example of this. Musically the track features wavering keyboards/synthesizers from Jerry Harrison and light jangly guitar rhythms, while lyrically it starts the album off on a positive note. “With Our Love” brings Talking Heads funk influence to the forefront. As the dual guitars in the verses battle themselves in the chorus, the song stops and starts with jagged rhythms and smooth soulful basslines. Lyrically Bryne attacks the very psychology of love, how it can blur peoples point of view and how that feeling can make us feel with lyrics such as “Had they forgotten what this all means” and "You're really special/And they can't face the feeling and they can't really tell”.     

“Warning Sign” is different from the songs that proceed it, juxtaposing musically as we are taken away with watery effects on vocals and guitars. The song is bizarre and scary while at the same time it projects the band’s sense of nervous energy which they are known for, “The Girls Want To Be With The Girls” features marching drum beats and wavering synthesizers while the lyrics question the understanding of relationships between men and women displaying how some just don’t get it with lyrics such as “Girls are getting into abstract analysis/Wouldn't like to make that intuitive leap/They're making plans that have far reaching effects/And the girls want to be with the girls”. “Found A Job” comes next with its opening line “Damn that television”, as the song describes a story between Bob and Judy as they work on scripts and make up stories due to their boredom with television and their relationship, which in turn rejuvenates their relationship. The song once again brings the band’s funk influences to the forefront as the scratchy funky guitars attack the listener and the basslines fills in the gaps with the strong drum work by Chris Frantz. David Byrne’s quirky and often high vocals push the story of this song into our heads. The song ends with in a frantic jam like fashion with Harrison's guitar combating and complimenting Byrne's as it does throughout most of this album.

Take Me To The River single
Other songs such as “Artists Only” with its almost surf/new wave rhythm tackles the creative process lyrically, “Stay Hungry” and “I’m Not In Love” question as mentioned earlier "disparities between mind and body, head and heart”. The last two tracks on this album are the clinchers on this album, which transform the album from being just a good sophomore effort into an excellent one. “Take Me To The River” is an organic song and the most straightforward compared to what the first nine tracks offer. Originally by Al Green, it is placed rather fittingly here.  Al Green’s lyrics are executed in a certain fashion by David Byrne that make it relevant to the themes that proceed it, comparing love to a baptismal religious experience. This song, which would become one of Talking Heads top-thirty singles, has an undeniable, mesmerizing groove that wades through the minds of the listener’s subconscious. “The Big Country” ends the album. The song features folk and country-like rhythms while lyrically it emphasizes the empty feeling of flying over cites and places and feeling nowhere, yet wanting to be somewhere with lyrics such as “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me” and “I'm tired of looking out the windows of the airplane/I'm tired of traveling/I want to be somewhere/It's not even worth talking/About those people down there”.    

I could go on about how the literate lyrics could emphasize or portray certain things, but it is perhaps best to take a look at the front and back cover of this album as further indication to is meaning. The front cover portrays 529 close up Polaroid photographs of the band placed together like a map of the band, while the back cover features the first photo mosaic map of the US, entitled Portrait U.S.A. made of 569 photos taken from space in 1976. Both images are maps that show an overall map of something. One is of the band, one is of the United States and the music on the inside provides deeper detail and meaning to these images. More Songs About Buildings And Food questions the very make up of the body, mind and heart as if it were a map with its refined, yet diverse rhythms and thought provoking lyrics. 

This week's play list:

1. The Remains – Don’t Look Back
2. The Castaways – Liar, Liar
3. Seven Story Redhead – Diamond Geezer
4. Golden BC – The Proof
5. Cold Warps – Stuck On An Island
6. Nirvana – Spank Thru
7. Mudhoney – The Rose
8. The Chemistry Set – Underground
9. Deja Voodoo – Too Cool To Live, Too Smart To Die
10. Simply Saucer – Instant Pleasure
11. Pointed Sticks – New Ways
12. Talking Heads - Thank You For Sending Me An Angel
13. Talking Heads – Found A Job
14. EX~PO – Burn, Burn, Burn
15. Terminal Sunglasses – Terminal Theme
16. April March – Chick Habit
17. Ghost Bikini – Rage In A Cage
18. Thee Rum Coves – Happy Times
19. The D4 – High Voltage
20. Sex Pistols – Substitute
21. The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Smash It Up
22. The White Stripes – Astro
23. The Prisoners - What I Want
24. Magazine – Model Worker (BBC Session)
25. The Clash - Stay Free

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 22. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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