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Rei Momo

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 27, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

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Rei Momo by David Byrne

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The former Talking Head's first real solo album (not counting collaborations with Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Brian Eno) is one of the more charming examples of cultural cannibalism to date. Byrne's now nearly old-fashioned concern with the rootless, consumer-driven insubstantiality of everyday life assumes a goofy irony when sung quirkily over deep Afro-Latino grooves and throbbing choruses cowritten and performed with salsa greats like Willie Colon, Johnny Pacheco, and bassist Andy Gonzalez. Byrne's best songs, "Make Believe Mambo" and "The Call of the Wild," are highly pleasurable if rather anxious demonstrations of the limits of taking the entire world as artistic fodder. His 1989 album sometimes sounds as though he were merely checking items off a list, like a dissatisfied customer trying on countless pairs of shoes in hopes of finding a perfect fit. --Richard Gehr
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 27, 2012)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros. Label
  • Run Time: 64 minutes
  • ASIN: B000002LIV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,732 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This album contains one of pop music's most double-take inducing opening lines (find out for yourself). Soon, though, the lyrics blend amazingly with the rich latin-hued music that dominates the entire album. The fun never lets up until the meditative and insect-accompanied 'I Know Sometimes A Man is Wrong' closes the party.

This wasn't really David Byrne's first 'solo' album. But since he released it after the Talking Heads' rather anti-climactic breakup (no farewell tour or big press releases accompanied this sad event, but perhaps it surprised no one) the album easily gets subsumed this way (1985's all-solo - i.e., no Brain Eno - 'Music for the Knee Plays' technically fulfills this function; this unjustifiably still remains unreleased on CD).

When 'Rei Momo' came out in 1989 some critics complained that Byrne had left his Talking Heads heritage behind. They wanted more 'Cities', 'Once in a Lifetime', and 'Psycho Killer' (who can blame them?). But this release should not have come as too much of a surprise given the Talking Heads' latin pop-tinged final album, 'Naked'. 'Rei Momo' completes the structure that 'Naked' began building. Many said it then: Byrne has gone 'latin loco'.

David Byrne fans will recognize his style in every song, regardless of the musical tone. Though the off-kilter 'Independence Day' may initially throw some listeners for a loop. Give it time, give it time.

The energy never lets up. From 'Independence Day's' beautiful and surprising violin solo the beats roll and tumble at you, inspiring wiggly behavior humans often associate with dancing and joy. This is a very musically happy album. Dance.

Inspired by the South American pop Byrne featured on his Luaka-Bop albums (The 'Brazil Classics' series, Tom Zé, etc.
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Format: Audio CD
Ahead by a good ten years, I'd say. The fact is, that no matter how you come to it, if you get a chance to be exposed to Latin rhythm and culture, it is worth it from my POV. As a Mexicana, I am honored that Byrne would so faithfully reproduce the sounds I loved when I lived in "Nueva Yor", as I call it.
The lyrics are the real draw here. Witty and incisive, they play off the exotic tapestry of sound. I cannot begin to mention all the great ones, but here are a few:
"My bed is flyin' out the window, I'm pullin' up my covers to the rain. And down below cats are howlin', it's a family affair." (from Independence Day) "This compass points in two directions, and North and South are both the same." (same) "Maybe you'll pray, but God isn't home, and there's no guarantee that justice be done" (Dirty Old Town) "Like a pizza in the rain, no one wants to take you home" (Loco de Amor) "Messin' round like monkeys and apes... they turned 'em loose, they turned into people" (Good and Evil)
And on it goes. For someone like me, a fan of Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan, this is a feast. But to combine with Español and back it with a Latin beat (take your pick: salsa, samba, rumba, charanga, to name a few) is irresistable. I've loved this album ever since it was released in 1989. Not a bad cut on it, but the afforementioned, plus "Rose Tattoo", "Make Believe Mambo", "Don't Want to Be Part of Your World", and "Lie to Me" also make my list of favorites here.
Please do NOT judge this by any preconceived notions, not let others' negative reactions influence you. This is the thinking man's approach to cultural synthesis, and as such, is an unqualified TRIUMPH.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a pioneering effort that more high level artists should have the courage to attempt. Perhaps they haven't because they don't possess the unique combination of musicianship, literacy, wit, and broad and empathic appreciation that David Byrne does. I suppose they also are afraid to go their own way with their own label, like he has.
As good as some of his songs may be, for some reason I find it hard to picture a pure pop musician like Lenny Kravitz, for instance, doing something as experimental as this..... Like the Beatles, David Byrne at his best is not only one of the most popular at what he does, he is also one of the BEST as well. And that's the real challenge for a serious pop musician, isn't it?
It is clear that Byrne has genuine respect and love for this music, as well as other forms of world music. He obviously has a better sense of humor than Peter Gabriel, however, and isn't afraid to shake his populist ... with the masses. That only makes him more appealing.
Snobs, like our Spanish writing reviewer, will see this album primarily as an Anglo intrusion, as cultural imperialism. What a shame. David Byrne has probably done more to break down barriers with his label, concerts, and other activities than almost any other major musician. David Byrne is a true fan and I'm very glad that he has enough respect for his audience to share nothing but the best. He does this live too...I saw him here in Hawaii early in 2002, and the place practically exploded with love for him.
This is not a completely perfect record. But is that really the point? The things that DO work on this record are absolutely intriguing, unique, and put on wax the exact sort of hybridity that will mark the twenty-first century and beyond.
Kudos to DB for being such a sly MF.
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