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Laughing Stock

93 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 19, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazing 1991 swansong. Universal.

Dreamy and loose, Talk Talk's Laughing Stock turns 180 degrees away from the '80s pop sound of It's My Life and runs headlong into a web of Brian Eno, avant-garde, jazz, and experimental structure. The songs ache with languid phrases and the naked, vulnerable voice of Mark Hollis, the only element of the band that remains perceptible from their verse-chorus-verse past. The bashing, off-time clatter of "Ascension Day"; the impossibly patient organ motif snaking into a wailing guitar string in "After the Flood"; the terrifying, beautiful silences that engulf "Runeii" and "Myrrhman"; and the teetering, defenseless vocal Hollis lays down on "New Grass"--it all adds up to a stellar, shockingly original work that shreds all pretense of genre limitations, finding a transcendence in the light and shadow of musical color. --Matthew Cooke
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 19, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polydor
  • ASIN: B000001FZK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,572 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. St Thomas on March 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is how music should be.
I will never tire of Talk Talk's final album Laughing Stock. From their first album until The Colour of Spring (1986) Talk Talk very definitely held my attention. The Colour of Spring is one of the best albums of the 8o's, no questions asked. And then they released 1988's Spirit of Eden. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. A total departure from where 'Life's What You Make it' seemed to say they were heading. I love Colour of Spring, but Spirit of Eden is something else. The first three songs from that album are worth the price alone.
And then there is Laughing Stock. It takes off where Spirit of Eden began, and i have heard nothing like it since. I've heard some acts emulate it, or incorporate its textures (Cowboy Junkies, Portishead come to mind), but no one will ever come close to what Talk Talk achieved on Laughing Stock.
I remember listening to this album for the first time, and realised that this is how the music industry should always have been. Displaying great pieces of creativity with support and pride. yeah right, like you can expect that. And that this album got deleted immediately is no surprise. 6 songs in all, but this album is so beautiful it goes beyond words. It incorporates Delta Blues, Mingus jazz, psychedelia, orchestral bombast and subtlety all in 6 songs. I have never heard anything like it before or since, and I miss Talk Talk as a group ever since. But if this is how they chose to go out, I can only commend them for going out with a style that is rarely seen in the music business.
The main theme of Laughing Stock seems to be about Redemption. Anyone familiar with Christian doctrine regarding Revelations will know what Ascension Day may refer to. This whole album seems to wrestle with the divine and the human.
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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Nom DelaNom on April 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I bought this album in 1992 I wasn't ready. I was a huge fan of Talk Talk, right up until the album that came before (Spirit of Eden, which is brilliant by the way...). I loved the departure from pop for them. In fact, it was the quiet, dark, atonal moments in the previous albums that, for me, made Talk Talk stand out. But Laughing Stock was thick where I wanted thin, liquid where I wanted solid. I sold it a year later feeling sure it was brilliant and that I was missing out on something wonderful, but unable to appreciate it.
Laughing Stock was an album you couldn't be prepared for because there was nothing like it. Even it's predecessor Spirit of Eden couldn't prepare the listener for the murky, uneasy, passionate journey that Laughing Stock is. Other reviewers have said it was ahead of it's time. If that was true in 1992, it's even more true now. Mainstream music is, with the exception of the last 3 Radiohead albums, still ignorant of this album. Laughing Stock is like pure grief in that the only way to make sense of it is to let go, let it wash over you and not try to make sense of it at all. It is painfully brilliant, hugely musical and very peace-inducing if you can surrender to it. It's not an album to dance to, or to try to decipher in one evening and I don't think there's one hook on the whole thing. It's the kind of album you put on over and over again until suddenly you notice that everything else starts to sound kind of hollow and trite in comparison.
I once read an article with the engineer who explained that every instrument was recorded from a distance (most instruments in pop music are recorded with the microphones only inches away) and almost always in mono.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Wilson on February 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Talk Talk were dropped by EMI after a row over their previous album, the equally brilliant SPIRIT OF EDEN. They turned to Polydor's jazz label, Verve, to release their final album, but executives on the label must have despaired when they realised they had acquired some of the most uncommercial music ever recorded by a rock band. The album was deleted within three months!
Fortunately another label has stepped in to rescue this extraordinary piece. Talk Talk had already entered into studio lore for spending a long and expensive day recording a large brass section, keeping only the sound of a trumpeter clearing spit from his mouthpiece.
This is dark music, set to Mark Hollis's lyrics about sin and redemption. I don't bother too much with words personally -- Hollis never makes it very easy for us to follow what his fragile voice is singing about. The music is simply tremendous: spiritual, improvisatory, overflowing with ideas. This is Hollis's LOVE SUPREME. It is in the same vein, but in my view much better, than Radiohead's KID A.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By fetish_2000 on May 25, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Formed in the U.K. in 1981.....Talk Talk have seeked out their own increasingly individualistic path of music. With a sound and structure that would encompass 'New Wave', 'Post-Rock', 'Jazz', 'Classical'...(and later on) 'Ambient'. Theirs is a sound that centres around the fractured vocal dynamics of vocalist "Mark Hollis", and with each album becoming more increasingly harder to catergorise & define. Which centered around largely uncategorizable sound informed, by pieces of various downtempo genres reworked and composed to fit within their increasingly selective musical sensibilities, and seemingly committed to making huge musical (and artistic) strides with each successive album.

Although probably best known for their U.K. hit single "Life's What you Make it", which was a gloriously uplifting piece of sophisticated reflective experimental/Post-Rock. The album "Laughing stock" instead takes off from where the equally breath-taking "Spirit of Eden" finished, with elegant, organic and engaging electronics, fleshed out tunes of simply beautiful understated grace and mood. Here things are taken a step further...comprising of Six distinct parts, each is arguably a stand-out in their own right. "Myrrhman" is a song with the barest sketches of ambient instruments, and compositions of equal parts minimalist guitar & piano. With Mark Hollis adding fractures of vocals over the top, in the subtlest way possible....its cerebral without seeming pretentious, moving without feeling forced, and a statement of artistic endeavour over commercial appeal.

"Ascension Day", is considerably more uptempo...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


Topic From this Discussion
Very Nice Album for those introspective moments, but....
One of the problems of such business is that when they invest in a group, let's say $200,000, they do planning expecting $1M in return, anything below that is considered a failure. This seems insane to most people but it is the case here, and quite a bad behavior can be expressed by executives... Read More
Apr 26, 2011 by Constantine |  See all 2 posts
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