Every Friday from 6-8 p.m. on WCWM Radio’s “This Ain’t No Picnic,” DJ Kevin Sumner gives a landmark album a spin for listeners to rediscover aural bliss.
The Sept. 12 edition paid tribute to Talking Heads with its 1980 future-funk masterpiece, “Remain in Light.”
With “Remain in Light,” Talking Heads achieved its own creative high-mark while simultaneously inviting listeners to shake their hips in tune to the beat.
The band, with assistance from mainstay producer Brian Eno, displayed a sound nearly unrecognizable from its days at the legendary CBGB’s.
It may have been colleagues with the Ramones, Blondie, Television and a bevy of other bands that thrived at the club, but, on this LP, the Heads occupied a peak no other collective was sure to climb.
Vocalist David Byrne may have spewed mantras that others were already aware of, including that “the world moves on a woman’s hips,” but listeners still smiled because it was a truth that bears repeating. With music emerging from all directions, every song sounded vital as the album progressed.
Side A, featuring “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” “Crosseyed and Painless,” and “The Great Curve,” punished the listeners with an incredible sense of directness that only the Heads could produce.
Side B, however, demonstrated the true genius of the band. “Once in a Lifetime,” with Byrne’s paranoia reaching an all-time high as he warbles “And you may ask yourself / Am I right or am I wrong / And you may ask yourself /. My god! … what have I done?”
The four songs that followed “Once in a Lifetime” may not stand alone well as individual moments, but they defined the mood and the scope of the record perfectly.
“Listening Wind,” in particular, with its blend of African polyrhythms and distant guitars, built an ominous tone that led toward the perfect minimalistic closer in “The Overload.”
The Heads served as the perfect soundtrack for the nation’s introduction to the 1980s, a time where many questions would rise and few would have logical answers to those questions.
There will never be another album quite like “Remain in Light,” period.