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Remain in Light

179 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Product Description

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Way back in 1980, the original wave of Talking Heads fans were pleasantly stunned to hear Remain in Light, produced and co-written by Brian Eno, on which Byrne and company are joined by guitar god Adrian Belew, and funk legends Bernie Worrell (keyboards) and Steven Scales (percussion), among others, for a fuller, funkier sound nobody imagined they had in them. The first three songs are long, layered, full-body dance parties, with incessantly repeated phrases (musical and lyrical), and increasingly catchy melodic hooks that won't let go for days. "Once in a Lifetime" was the big hit, but the rockingest track is the third, "The Great Curve," after which the songs get more linear and subdued. It's still great stuff, right through to the especially Eno-like droner, "The Overload," but the second half is maybe better to sleep to than dance to. Which is fine: after the exuberance of the first three songs, you'll need a little nap. --Dan Leone


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Original Release Date: 1980
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Off Roster
  • ASIN: B000002KO3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,231 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By M. Packham on April 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Remain in Light is perhaps the Talking Heads' best album. Technically it is flawless, and as far as music goes, Remain in Light unifies electronica, African rhythms, guitar riffs and Bryan Eno's signature minimalism to hypnotic effect. The music is captivating and melodic - great dance music, but also great careful-listening music - and David Byrne's halting, discordant voice and thoughtful lyrics transcend each song to a more intellectual and compelling level. Ultimately, Remain in Light is a piece of art as well as a piece of music - Byrne and Eno have carefully layered music, vocals and thoughtful lyrics to create perhaps one of the best albums of the eighties.
The first three tracks are primarily dance tracks, but each one is subtly constructed and multi-layered. `Born Under Punches' combines repetition, African rhythm and a variety of eclectic instruments Tom Waits would be proud of. The end result is a dance track with a political slant: "Take a look at these hands... I'm a tumbler/ I'm a government man... I'm so thin... all I want is to breathe." `Crosseyed and Painless' is another dance track, however the weakest of the three. `The Great Curve' is perhaps one of the Heads' best work - it is an exemplary piece of music that showcases the great song-writing and compositional aptitude of the band's frontman, David Byrne. The Great Curve is a haunting, melodic and multi-layered work that stays with the listener for a long time - but, if you like, you can get up and dance to it because it's got one hell of a rhythm pounding through it.
The next five songs are exceptional, however the focus shifts from dance to more of an art-rock.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Shotgun Method on September 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The Talking Heads, members of 1977's CBGB scene, certainly carved a unique niche in the music world. While the Ramones were pounding out 3-chord witty anthems and Television and Richard Hell were making literate punk rock, the Talking Heads were pioneering their own blend of dancy art-rock. While every album from Talking Heads '77 to Speaking In Tongues is classic material, if I was forced to choose their best album I'd have to side with Remain In Light. Although some gripe over Brian Eno's increased role in the band (some have said that he is the "fifth member") there is no denying that under his auspices as producer, David Byrne (vocals), Tina Weymouth (bass), Chris Frantz (drums) and Adrian Belew (guitar, later of King Crimson) released their best material.
Released in 1980, Remain In Light is often considered one of the seminal "New Wave" recordings, but it isn't really. The Talking Heads couldn't be compared to tripe like The Human League or Culture Club. Their music was diverse, intelligent, fluid, weird, and shake-your-hips-FUNKY.
The first half of Remain In Light is highly eccentric and upbeat dance music, sounding like some odd mutation of punk, African bush music, and funk. Wild polyrhythms abound, Byrne's vocals are quirky and neat bits of beat poetry ("I'm not a drowning man/I'm a tumbler!") and brilliantly inventive guitarist Belew unleashes sounds more remiscient of wild animals and electronic effects than the buzzsaw blast of punk. The second half, beginning with mainstream hit Once In A Lifetime (propelled by that timeless music video on MTV) progressively slows down the blistering pace with more moody and introspective pieces, ending with the dark dirge of The Overload (written by Eno, and very unlike the rest of the record).
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By D. Knouse on May 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD
polyrhythm(n): the simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in a musical composition
polyrhythmic(adj): 1: having many rhythms 2: having two or more rhythms proceeding simultaneously in different musical parts
Keep those definitions in mind when listening to this masterpiece from one of the most interesting bands I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. From the galloping multi-rhythmic opening song, "Born Under Punches(The Heat Goes On)," it becomes glaringly obvious that this is very original music. After pushing the Polyrhythmic Threshold with their previous albums, with varied success, Talking Heads shatter all their previous efforts with this epic and wholly amazing album. Along with their concert DVD, "Stop Making Sense," owning this album is absolutely essential to reach a full appreciation of this remarkable band. Both are exceptional experiences. My favorites from this CD are the faster tracks but the last two songs close the album with a somber, ethereal tone. The song "Listening Wind" is haunting, while "The Overload" is like walking around in a daze amid the ruins of some cataclysmic event. For the beginning fan I would suggest buying the DVD "Stop Making Sense" first, but soon after you should purchase this excellent album in a state of euphoria. I wish more bands would embrace polyrhythms and incorporate them in their songwriting. The songs on this album are crammed with them. Thank you.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alan Koslowski on December 30, 2000
Format: Audio CD
During the early 1980s, Talking Heads were among several artists who incorporated "World Music" elements into a pop context. Though this lead to some interesting music, few artists were able to synthesize these elements with complete success. Of all these artists, Talking Heads most fully realized their ambitions and this album stands out as their artistic peak.
Remain in Light is African poly-rhythms (and other World Music elements), exotic instrumentation, electronic sounds, applied to clever, highly literate songs. All of these complex elements are synthesized seamlessly by producer Brian Eno. While this album is nominally a Talking Heads record, David Byrne and Brian Eno deserve all the creative credit. The songs were written primarily by Byrne and Eno (who contributes musically to every track), with the other Talking Heads serving to accompany the other studio musicians.
A few other reviewers have remarked that this album sounds like mush, with elements thrown together without haphazardly. Nothing could be further from the truth. The World Music elements, pop elements, and studio effects are used judiciously to create music the feels effortless. It obviously isn't entirely spontaneous because there are so many exquisite sonic details and each song is precisely crafted. Every time you listen to Remain In Light, you will notice something you haven't heard before.
What makes Remain In Light even more remarkable is how endlessly listenable it is. The song structures are atypical of most popular music and Byrne writes some bizarre, esoteric lyrics. But Byrne sings with a quirky, often subtly humorous (that often isn't recognized) irony that makes the songs palatable. The songs are highly literate and impenetrable, yet infectious at the same time.
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