Weymouth advised Kalman that she wanted simple typography in a bold sans serif font. M&Co. complied, with Kalman coming up with the idea of inverting the "A"s in "TALKING HEADS". Weymouth and Frantz decided to use the joint credit acronym C/T for the artwork, while Bender and Fisher used initials and code names because the project was not an official MIT venture. The design credits read "HCL, JPT, DDD, WALTER GP, PAUL, C/T". The final mass-produced version of Remain in Light had one of the first computer-designed record jackets. Psychoanalyst Michael A. Brog has called its front cover a "disarming image, which suggests both splitting and obliteration of identity", and which introduces the listener to the album's recurring theme of "identity disturbance"; he has said, "The image is in bleak contrast to the title with the obscured images of the band members unable to 'remain in light'."
The English band Radiohead credited Remain in Light as a major influence on their 2000 album Kid A. The guitarist Jonny Greenwood had assumed Remain in Light was composed of loops, but later learnt from Harrison that Talking Heads had played the parts repetitively. Greenwood said: "It's played the same exact thing for five minutes, which is really interesting. And that's why it's not exhausting to listen to because you're not hearing the same piece of music over and over again. You're hearing it slightly different every time. There's a lesson there."
Part of the power of that 1980 Rome concert stemmed from its purposefully stark presentation; few external visuals and simple lighting allowed the band to see one another. "It was about the joy of everybody onstage and the playing," Harrison says. There were also a few practical reasons for this, including that band members knew they'd be playing large festivals, sometimes in the middle of the afternoon with no time or room to set up anything too technically elaborate. As Harrison recalls, even if the band wanted more, it probably wasn't feasible. "We didn't have any money," he notes. Stripped of theatrics - which served Talking Heads even better when the Stop Making Sense Tour rolled around a few years later - the 1980 Rome show was the start of something new for the band.
More Songs About Buildings and Food [Sire, 1978]Here the Heads become a quintet in an ideal producer-artist collaboration--Eno contributes/interferes just enough. Not only does his synthesized lyricism provide flow and continuity, it also makes the passive, unpretentious technological mysticism he shares with the band real in the aural world. In fact, there is so much beautiful music (and so much funky music) on this album that I'll take no more complaints about David Byrne's voice. Every one of these eleven songs is a positive pleasure, and on every one the tension between Byrne's compulsive flights and the sinuous rock bottom of the music is the focus. I have more doubts than ever about Byrne's post-hippie work-ethic positivism--on one new song, he uses the phrase "wasting precious time" and means it--but if it goes with music this eccentric and compelling I'm damn sure going to hear him out. A
The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads [Sire, 1982]Live albums by essentially nonimprovisatory artists who do definitive work in the studio are always slightly extraneous, but the choice songs and prime performances compiled on this twofer (one disc 1977-79, the other 1980-81) may turn out to be definitive themselves. David Byrne seems more outgoing and somehow normal in this context, yet also more eccentric--his collection of animal cries is recommended to Van Morrison. Five years and not a misstep--think maybe they're gunning for world's greatest rock and roll band? A-
Speaking in Tongues [Sire, 1983]With Eno departed, the polyrhythms no longer seem so portentous--this funk is quirkily comfortable, like the Byrne-produced B-52's or the three-piece of Byrne's earlier primitivist period. Unfortunately, the polyrhythms no longer seem so meaningful, either. Though God knows there's no rock and roll rule that says playfulness can't signify all by itself, the disjoint opacity of the lyrics fails to conceal Byrne's confusion about what it all means. Yet side two lights me up nevertheless, sandwiching the purest anticapitalist song he's ever written and the purest prolove song he's ever written around two pieces of typically ironic-optimistic futurism. A-
His latest project, titled Contemporary Color, is a multi-medium marriage of color, light, music and movement based on the rural American tradition of the color guard. For a brief series of events earlier this year, Byrne brought out Nelly Furtado, How to Dress Well, DevHynes, Zola Jesus, Nico Muhly, Ira Glass, St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, Lucius, and Ad-Rock and Money Mark of Beastie Boys to play live music while flag-waving color guard troupes perform colorful choreographies. 2b1af7f3a8