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Vital overtones

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  November 25, 2008

Five essential Byrne-Eno collaborations

TALKING HEADS | MORE SONGS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND FOOD [1978] | The duo's first encounter came when Eno produced Talking Heads' second album. While largely an extension of the jittery geek-chic anthems from the band's debut, it also features a simmering, funky cover of Al Green's "Take Me To the River," hinting at things to come.

TALKING HEADS | FEAR OF MUSIC [1979] | Here's where it all changes. Though much of the album features muscular takes on songs that could have fit on the previous recordings ("Cities," "Memories Can't Wait"), it also introduces elements that give the band new direction. The African polyrhythms of the album-opening "I Zimbra" provide the underpinning of a new sound, and the mantra of "Life During Wartime" — "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around" — became the band's first great chant-along chorus.

TALKING HEADS | REMAIN IN LIGHT [1980] | A masterpiece in a catalog of great albums, Remain in Light takes elements introduced on Fear of Music and forges them into a brooding, bracing, hypnotic tour de force, full of dense rhythms and impressionistic, paranoid lyrics. "Once In a Lifetime" became one of the band's signature songs, and the video, featuring Byrne at his absolute twitchiest, established Talking Heads as leaders of the new visual age.

BRIAN ENO AND DAVID BYRNE | MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS [1981] | Deconstructing ideas explored on Remain in Light, and reassembling them in disorienting and disquieting ways, Bush of Ghosts manages to coalesce into a funky, fascinating collage of samples, stray sounds, and disembodied voices that served as a template for later works by artists like Beck, the Beastie Boys, and Moby.

DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO | EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY [2008] | The duo's most recent collaboration stands as a sharp departure from previous work. While some knotty layers of rhythm remain, the album is marked by lush melodies and Byrne's plaintive croon. Still, there are wry nods to the past, as in "Strange Overtones," where Byrne sings "this groove is out of fashion/these beats are 20 years old.

Related: Same as he ever was, Severed Heads, David Byrne and Brian Eno, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Brian Eno, The Beastie Boys, Al Green,  More more >
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