Having spent a short while yesterday discussing the downright ludicrous demands of a major label, I figured it was time to dip back into the big business side of our skanky assembly, and who better to lament such a moment than the group who once put a Hugo Ball poem to an afro-disco beat?
While many of their contemporaries were immersing themselves in the world of reggae, Talking Heads took the dadaist’s lead, delving deep into African musical traditions whilst simultaneously recreating the relentless rhythms of punk’s one-time arch nemesis, disco.
That’s not to say reggae was out ruled in their output, in fact there’s more than a nod to it’s sensibilities in various earlier TH outings like First Week/Last Week… Carefree or Electric Guitar but whilst their often offbeat and jerky approach to pop seemed the perfect place for a reggae reflex, they lacked it’s actual jerky offbeats.
That is until 1983’s LP Speaking In Tongues which featured the lanky skank of I Get Wild/Wild Gravity recalling Grace Jones’ high-sheen take on steppers and rockers rhythms. Jones was in fact recording her Nightclubbing LP next door to Talking Heads offshoot project Tom Tom Club which may explain the influence.
On a side note but still worthy of mention, it was recently brought to my attention that when Rasta founder Leonard Howell 1st returned from NYC to spread his new found ideology in Jamaica, he came with the poet, political activist and sometime dadaist Nancy Cunard in tow. The significance of her influence on the movement is open to dispute but it ties this post up nicely so stop complaining, now go ahead and pull the curtains…