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4.5 out of 5 stars
More Songs About Buildings & Food
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
More Songs About Buildings And Food sees the Heads moving away from their poppier first album and, under the guidance of Brian Eno, discovering that there had always been a dance element to their music. It's an inspired move - whereas before Byrne had been the focus of the band, the formidable Weymouth / Frantz rhythm section relly makes its presence felt here: from With Our Love through Found A Job up to Stay Hungry, they just keep churning out those grooves. Retrospectively, this was an element of their music that was already there just waiting to be expanded upon: several of the songs featured on the album had already been written, sometimes as long as two years before the release of the record, and were already (I think) part of the band's live repertoire. Byrne's lyrics and way with a chorus are not forgotten, however - Good Thing has an absolute monster of a chorus. Another excellent feature of the album is that many of the songs crescendo at the end with an absolutely storming vamp that you want to continue forever.
The Big Country deserves special mention because it showed that the band still had much more to explore - it's a melodic, country tinged, slightly balladic (although not actually a ballad - they didn't do one of those till their seventh album) song about an idealised American heartland; although in typical Byrne style the narrator of the song doesn't seem to find the vision particularly appealing ('I wouldn't live there if you paid me'). They wouldn't really travel in this direction again until Little Creatures, although nothing on there is as good as The Big Country.
Overall, the album is excellent. As with Fear of Music, Remain In Light and Speaking In Tongues, if you're a music fan of any sort you should consider getting it. If you scroll up you'll find some preview links - I suggest you click them.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2001
For a band that produced many fine and innovative studio recordings, I can say without hesitation that this is their absolute best. David Byrne's lyrics are scalpel-sharp, especially on "I'm Not in Love." Other songs feature his quirky observations, such as in the "Big Country" or "The Girls Just Want to Be With the Girls." The music is tight, with expertly timed stop-starts, unusual chord changes, and hypnotic riffs. I find that the songs "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel" and "Found a Job" are the true stand-outs. However, those who are only vaguely familiar with the Talking Heads will zero-in on the cover version of "Take Me to the River," which though it brought the band some much needed attention, had the effect of overshadowing what was otherwise perhaps the finest album recorded in the decade of the 70s.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2004
The musicianship on this - the Heads' second release - is amazing. Perfect, really. By the time you're into the second song - "With our Love" - you know these guys mean business:

"Forgot the trouble, that's the trouble -
forgot the trouble, that's the trouble -
forgot the trouble and that's the trouble,
With our Love, With our Love."

An achingly painful sentiment, expressed in the confines of an intense wall of guitar chops and a bone-jarring refrain. Eno synth sounds are lurking around the second verse, too. Sort of makes you feel ... nervously happy - nervous because music shouldn't be so intense, happy because the perfectly punctuated bass, percussion and guitars deliver the goods. It's a toe-tappingly cool song.

The first six songs are without flaw. Each different from the other - different sounding vocals, synthesizers, reverb, percussion. And Great Lyrics. It makes for unbelievably intriguing music. "Girls Want to be with Girls" is a hoot - with a sort of an electronic choir of angels forming the refrain. Goofily irresistable.

"Found a Job" then smacks you in the face.

"Damn that television, what a bad picture -
don't get upset, it's not a major disaster."

The raunchy guitars repeatedly jab your ribs. And they don't let up. Get up and DANCE YOU FOOL!!

Side Two (on vinyl) - beginning with "Artists Only" - misses the mark with a few throwaway songs. Redeemed by "Stay Hungry" and "The Big Country." ("Take Me to the River" has been way overplayed).

Overall this is solid stuff that has - truly - stood the test of time. This release is now 26 - that's 26 (!!!) years old. Eesh. Though the gray hairs have multiplied, this album of my youth retains its sinewy strength. A tasty cut of Grade "A" Alt-Rock.

Four Starz **** - check it out Holmesqueeze.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Talking Heads is one of the most neglected bands of all times. Everything they did and everything they touched was fantastic, fresh, bold, artful yet always very accessible. This band evolved with their sound getting bigger, fatter, more complicated, more percussive and funky, the instrumentation more daring with each and every subsequent release.

"More Songs About Building and Food" came at a great time in this band's history. It smack dab in the middle of their tuneful yet more simple debut "Talking Heads 77" and the start of exploring world music and polyrythyms of "Fear of Light".

On this album, Talking Heads is confident, road-traveled and sticking to the most conventional and raw/organic sounds you will hear from their catalog. When this stuff debuted, I was young and focused only on the melody of the songs yet, in hindsight, there is wonderful instrumentation, unique arrangements and producer Brian Eno captured the band perfectly. David Byrne's simple and minimalistic guitar playing explores an ironic virtuasity that will later be explored by more celebrated players like Andy Summers from The Police and The Edge from U2. The bass/drum interplay outshines most rock/pop bands or their era and is indicative of funk which, once again, will be more common place at the turn of the century (while it is common today for bassists to be challenging the sound of the guitarist, in the 70's so many bass players only played the root of the chord that the guitar player was focused on).

There are only strong songs on this excellent album. "The Big Country" is a highlight not only because the band is trying their hand at a different sound, but it is simply a great ballad-type song. "Warning Sign" is a fantastic tune with interesting change of tempos. "Take Me to the River" is a classic that not only rethinks and reworks a soul standard, but the Talking Heads took that tune over from Al Green.

What I love about this band is they achieved so much artistically without showing off. I love what they did musically more than the catchiness of their songs. What Paul Simon did, and was thought as an innovator, in adopting African sounds on "Graceland", these guys did it a decade earlier...and really never explained themselves, never bragged, never did much other than sneak cool new stuff into their songs.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 1998
More Songs about Buildings and Food is Talking Heads' best album, not only because it combines punkiness evident on their first album (77) but because it expands on that format to include funkiness and a more rounded sense of songwriting. "Found a Job" is still my favorite Heads song ever, and my other favorites are "With Our Love" and "I'm not in Love", which show David Byrne's obvious discontent with love and lovers. "Thank you for sending me an angel" kicks off the album sprightly, and "Stay Hungry" showcases an energy that even Heads emulators couldn't duplicate. Other highlights are "Take me to the river", the Al Green cover that later became a hit, and the album closer, the definitive "Big Country". More Songs showcases the Heads during their earlier period, before the synths dominated the music and before Byrne started parodying his own nasal, affected delivery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 21, 2006
After hitting the ground running with their stunning debut, the Talking Heads decided to enlist the assistance of Brian Eno for their second album, "MOre Songs About Buildings and Food". In all likelihood, this was a wise move-- following up a debut as fresh and superb as "Talking Heads '77" was a difficult task, and in Eno they had someone who could grow their music. The partnership would last through the next two Talking Heads albums, a collaborative effort between Eno and Byrne ("My Life in the Bush of Ghosts") and Byrne's "Catherine Wheel". The one thing that's pretty much consistent throughout is that the union of Byrne and Eno produces high results.

In many ways, all Eno did was encourage natural outgrowth from the last album-- certainly the debut record was a quirky and timeless effort and more than a superb springboard to work from and pieces such as "Stay Hungry" (in fact originally attempted for the debut left unused) and "Artists Only" recall the best of '77'. But Eno also seemed to encourage more diversity, pushing the band in a number of different directiosn-- opener "Thank You for Sending An Angel" uses march rhythms and high energy, "With Our Love" hints at Eastern European sounds and the Ramones, "Warning Sign" bubbles with a frantic power that sounds like the successor to Eno's "Third Uncle" and the cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" slinks into a deep organ groove with Byrne bringing a quite unexpected vocal to the table for the gospel-infused monster (and proved to be the first major exposure the band got). But perhaps closer "The Big Country" is the best of all of them-- Byrne sinks into a more calm and melancholy delivery over a laid back and yet somehow still energetic groove. Like the debut, there's some less than fantastic material, but even that is very listenable ("Found a Job").

This reissue is in the dualdisc format with both the CD side and the 5.1 DVD audio side remastered to provide a crisp, clean sound that is a huge step forward from the early '90s issues of these albums. Additionally, both sides are augmented with bonus tracks-- four unused alternates (including the 1977 recording of "Stay Hungry") on the CD side and two live video clips on the DVD side. All in all, a quite worthwhile upgrade.

The collaboration between Brian Eno and the Talking Heads would continue to yield superb results-- in many ways, this is as much a debut as the previous album was, and like the debut, is equally essential. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2003
I give this one the biggest thumbs up in the Talking Heads catalog. It's sort of like, I dunno, "Rubber Soul"--an in-the-middle album: they're still young, but not for long. That said, what is great about this album is that David Byrne wrote songs from his heart about relationships. Sure I love "Fear of Music," but after 20 years, the experimental lyrics there don't do it for me. But the music on that album was great; "Remain in Light" took "Fear" to another level, but not building upon the lyrics of "More Songs." I can't tell you how many times I listened to this album in the late 1970s...I simply can't. Good to the last drop. Their masterpiece? Perhaps. Indispensable? You know it. Another side of the seventies.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2006
The Talking Heads' debut album, Talking Heads: 77, clearly stood the test of time like few punk and proto-punk albums. But if 77 was one of the best creations of the punk genre, then with their second album, More Songs About Buildings And Food, David Byrne and co. achieved a sound of their own that transcended time and genre, and assured their place in the pantheon of rock n' roll.

In no small part, thanks are due to producer Brian Eno; though he was only four years older than Byrne himself, Eno had a rich career behind him, not only as a former member of art-school heroes Roxy Music but also as a collaborator with varied artists such as David Bowie, Devo, John Cale and Robert Wyatt. Eno helped the Heads mature their style, giving Jerry Harrison's keyboard a more important role than in 77, and Harrison carries many of the songs on his wonderful playing. But Eno or no Eno, the show still belongs to Byrne, and he matured greatly in his singing and most notably in his songwriting from the first album. The angst and cynicism of Psycho Killer and Don't Worry About The Government is still there, but it's more subtle, more low-key, and much, much nastier. In fact, the beautiful The Big Country may just be the meanest piece he has ever written.

Not all the tracks on More Songs are standouts; in fact it starts out pretty mildly. The first three tracks - Thank You For Sending Me An Angel, With Our Love and The Good Thing - are relatively lukewarm, nice little tunes with good and intelligent lyrics, and aren't as powerful and straightforward as most of 77. But when Warning Signs hits, it's clear that the change that went over the Heads is not a mellowing of their first album, but on the contrary - Byrne merely sharpened his knives. Warning Signs is a phenomenal song and a strong one, and once the album hits its stride, it doesn't let go. Warning Signs is quickly followed by the brilliant Found A Job, that remains one of the Heads' greatest songs, and one of Byrne's best lyrical inventions, telling the story of a problem couple who start creating their own TV shows at home; the song is sharp and cynical, and in its subtle ways the message is more powerful than in straightforward anti-social numbers like the classic Psycho Killer. The next three tracks - Artists Only, I'm No In Love and Stay Hungry, are consistently engaging and challenging and keep the album running smoothly, even if Stay Hungry might have felt more at ease on 77.

The last two tracks show just how much the Heads have grown in the past year, and how much they have increased their versatility. The cover version of Al Green's Motown classic Take Me To The River instantly became the Heads' biggest radio hit, and even if it's not one of the best tracks on the album it's easy to see why; it's a fantastic cover version, done with every bit of respect and love for the original and for the Motown sound, but infusing it with new life and modern sounds. Byrne and co. prove on that track just how talented a group of musicians they were, setting themselves completely apart from punk rockers like the Sex Pistols or the Ramones; the Heads were capable of instrumental grooves that few punk bands could master. On the other hand, the epic The Big Country is the best showcase of Byrne's song craftsmanship, and it remains one of his greatest creations. Byrne's mild and subtle sarcasm on The Big Country is immensely stronger and nastier than anything on 77, and it's perfect in composition and in delivery both. The Big Country is the best track on More Songs, and it would be the springboard for their finest albums.

So even if More Songs About Buildings And Food is not the Heads' best album, it's the beginning of their creative prime, one that would produce the brilliant masterpieces Fear Of Music and Remain In Light, and even if it's not necessarily better on the whole than Talking Heads: 77, in many ways it's the first true Heads album. It's essential for any fan, and a standout album of its time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2002
After their inspiring debut a year earlier, the Talking Heads further proved their capabilities with their second album, 1978's "More Songs About Buildings And Food."
This was the first with producer (and sometimes labelled "meddler") Brian Eno, but his work doesn't outweigh the band's contributions (as it later would); the brilliance of "More Songs..." is that of the Talking Heads, and of the Talking Heads only.
The title of this delicious album self-parodizes their subject matter, one of the examples of the satirical element of "More Songs About Buildings And Food." This is captured on 'The Big Country,' a satire on consumerist America, with a humorous mock-country Western sound.
Another key element in the album's quality is its ability to range from light to grim approaches with a natural flow. Compare the aggressiveness of "Warning Sign" to the naive shine of "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel." The differences are great, but not in a way that would throw the listener's senses off-balance.
The Talking Heads' appreciation for soul is captured with their cover of Al Green's 'Take Me To The River.' The reflecton on their own influences is one of the album's most assuring effects.
Without this album, there would be a void in the Talking Heads' legacy. If "More Songs About Buildings And Food" hadn't been as perfectly written, recorded, and performed, the Talking Heads may have faded into "cult band" status, as did many of those who emerged from the new wave scene.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 27, 2006
Talking Heads didn't make a classic album with "More Songs About Buildings And Food", but they were working on it. This digitally remastered dual disc greatly improves the sound quality from the old cd version.

The cd side sounds great in stereo, but it's the dvd side that will knock your socks off. When you hear "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" in 5.1 surround sound it's like hearing it for the first time again. The other great tracks on this album are "The Good Thing", "Warning Sign", "Artists Only", "Take Me To The River" and "The Big Country". The dvd side also includes two live videos which is good if you missed seeing the Talking Heads in concert like myself.

The four bonus tracks are all marked previously unreleased, and I know I've never heard these versions of four songs from this album. I actually liked the '77 version of "Stay Hungry". The alternate version of "I'm Not In Love" does nothing to improve the song, and the alternate version of "The Big Country" is more stripped down than the original, which didn't do much for me. The alternate version of "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" is likewise uninteresting.

The booklet comes with praises by different popular musicians and a note about the 5.1 remixing process by Jerry Harrison. The lyrics are not included like in the old cd version which I think was an oversight. The price of this remastered dual disc is steep and really ought to be more like $9.99.

All in all, worth rebuying if you're a true Heads fan like myself.
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