His next album, "So", was a kind of commercial sell-out capstone to his previous four arty-but-unsuccessful records. The cover featured a beautiful black and white photograph of Gabriel's handsome, unobscured face by Trevor Key, and was designed by Peter Saville see also: New Order.
Perhaps it is Gabriel's sly commentary on capitulating to pop machinery. Yes, "In Your Eyes" is nice, but it's pretty much "Wallflower" part 2, with the strange blood subtracted and replaced with treacle.
The singles are lame, and are basically Gabriel singing about his dick, supported by gimmicky videos. This, from the guy that had done "Biko" just a few years prior. Naturally, "So" was a smash hit -- the biggest of his career -- and marked the end of his truly interesting and challenging work.
It sold 5 million copies in the USA alone. Finally, Geffen Records was happy. Gabriel's soundtrack to Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" is also fantastic, but has no songs or vocals, and is largely about timbre and vibe. His subsequent solo albums were attempts at recapturing either the success and sounds of "So", or "Security", or trying to fuse them together. Gabriel has a great voice, writes good or great melodies, hires top-notch players, and meticulously crafts his records.
But a certain fire, or perhaps perversity, seems lacking post-Security. Aside from lessons observed from Gabriel's career, "Security" showed me how you can make strange things into pop songs, and how the fire of personal obsessions can drive you to interesting places. And perhaps, how selling out can make you rich at the expense of your weird little soul. Some records define their own genres. So it is with Talk Talk's apex, "Spirit of Eden".
It was produced by Colin Thurston, notable not only for engineering Bowie's "Heroes", but for having just produced the fantastic debut album of Duran Duran.
Both records are full of Simmons electronic drums, chorused bass guitar fretless on Talk Talk's record! Talk Talk would even support Duran Duran on tour in And Talk Talk's pop songs were quite good. While the band didn't particularly like that first record, I love it. I saw the video for the song "Talk Talk" on Rock N America, a small, late-night syndicated video show, and was immediately interested.
I ended up buying a vinyl copy of the album and devoured the songs. I taught myself fretless bass by learning to play all the bass parts on that record.
They continued to write great songs, albeit with less consistency and less pop rigor. At the time, I found the lack of wall-to-wall pop songs disappointing.
But "The Colour of Spring" held my attention in other ways. In particular, there was "April 5th", a moody, piano-driven track that drifts off into strange clouds of sound. I played it over and over. The mostly white album cover focused the band's typical surreal artwork every single one of the band's album covers and singles contained artwork by James Marsh and suggested something naturalistic.
I can still remember the smell of the air, the sounds of the leaves blowing outside, how I felt, as the first notes of the album started. This wasn't a new wave pop album. It wasn't even "rock". I didn't know what it was.
It was Woodwinds and trumpet. Wailing harmonica. Yes, some electric and acoustic guitars and drums, but fitting with this larger band. There were 6 songs, which had some kind of structure, but it wasn't chunks of 16 bars. It almost felt improvised. It was dynamic, ranging from barely audible to crashing volume increasingly rare in pop music.
And it was largely rubato, freed from a click, pulse, drum machine, or steady beat. While it was unusual, it wasn't difficult to listen to, or abrasive, or noisy for noise's sake. It was composed, in every sense. Emotional, contemplative, and alive. Just under 41 minutes. It finished. I wasn't even sure how to respond. Did I like it? I played it again. By the time it ended, I knew it was a masterpiece. Nearly every musician I have met and I know a lot!
You will find this album on countless musician's lists of most influential, important, desert island, etc. There's plenty to be read these days about the unique way the album was made, or what a commercial failure it was supposedly the record executive cried when he heard the record, because he knew it was brilliant but he also knew it wouldn't sellor how difficult Mark Hollis had become by this time. But for a long time, the record just existed as a statement of what was possible.
Here's this great art for you, world. I just listened to the album again as I wrote this. There's still nothing like it, except the next, final record Talk Talk would do -- "Laughing Stock", which is every bit as good as "Spirit of Eden", and the single brilliant Mark Hollis solo album which was originally intended as a Talk Talk record. Hollis retired from the music business after his solo album was released inand he died in at the age of Another band and artist that moved from pop towards something unique, making undefinable music for a machine that largely had no idea what to do with it.
Talk Talk showed me your best work comes from doing what you want. It probably won't LP you a ton of money, but it will make you great art. Find 45 minutes where you can give it your attention.
Put some headphones on or sit in front of your stereo and listen to it, all the way through. Don't use YouTube, try to find a source with decent fidelity.
Talk Talk was also a great band prior to "Spirit of Eden". One of my friends put "Taking The Veil" on a mixtape. I was entranced by its sophisticated chords, its fretless bass, meticulous production, and lyrics referencing Max Ernst a favorite artist. I bought the double vinyl LP used at a local record store. The gatefold's front cover suggested something vaguely mystical. An amulet? Some kind of religious symbols? The album is two discs.
The first is seven long-ish songs. They are quite a step away from Japan's New Romantic pop songs. While they still have verses and choruses, the harmonic choices are more interesting, the melodies go in unusual directions, and Sylvian sings in his deeper "mature" voice.
There's nothing you'll dance to, and the melodies aren't exactly built for singing along. The record is practically adult contemporary. It's got great players Robert Fripp! Bill Nelson! Mel Collins! Kenny Wheeler! Steve Nye! It has a jazzy, almost easy-listening vibe.
The title track is the one exception, which weds a more angular melody to little more than Fripp's skronking bent-metal guitar. It reminds me a bit of Sting's "The Dream of The Blue Turtles", which was recorded around the same time and was another example of a pop singer trying to establish a solo career by "going jazz", growing up, and moving in a slightly smoother direction. Though I think Sylvian's record is by far more interesting and timeless. A fixture in the Kansas City music scene, his Pacific harmonies, and intricate vocal and instrumental structures capture the polite malaise of Americana as it is lived in the mid-sized cities of the he Detours and Dead Ends Vol.
At various times you read more ». On his fourth Kool Kat label release, Ed Ryan once again demonstrates his trademark unmistakable sound, but at the same time, puts the accents slightly differently on each record. The Manchester, UK-based singer-songwriter recorded it in a studio in rural Wales early last year.
And in a sense this ruralness permeates throughout the album itself. It represents a period of introspection for Lung, where he He then went on to play Birthed during the pandemic ofthis collection paints from a broad palette of tonal colors and stylistic modes that at times harkens back to the golden age of AM radio yet does not sacrifice the modern pop And after just one li Choosing the pop-centric Bleu as a producer proved to be a master stroke!
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Inhe helmed Los Lobos' The Neighborhood; two years later, he and Blake reunited with the group for Kiko, a densely textured and adventurous record which heralded a quantum leap in their sound. From there, Froom moved on to Vega's The new Froom-Blake aesthetic -- with its signature reverbed vocals, distorted textures, and junkyard percussion -- continued to blossom on acclaimed efforts including American Music Club's LP Mercury, and inthe duo joined with Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Louie Perez in the side project Latin Playboys.
Productions including Cibo Matto's celebrated Viva! Froom continued to work steadily during the late '90s and early s, helming records with high profiles Sheryl Crow's Globe Sessions, and Binaural from Pearl Jam as well as up-and-coming artists like Mia Doi Todd and Phantom Planet.
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