Down The Dumper – The 80s Part 23.

This is another group who did some pioneering things in the 80s. Talking Heads were formed in New York in the mid-70s, although their frontman David Byrne was actually born in Scotland. A few of their albums made the lower end of the UK chart in the 70s, but they first really got noticed when in February 1981 “Once In A Lifetime” was released, which reached no. 14.

This is remembered for the video, which was the kind of thing that MTV was invented for, and this has also been much parodied. One example I found online recently featured a computer games character (I must admit I’ve lost track of that kind of thing), and someone had taken the time to remake this shot-for-shot. It was all rather odd, but this did leave a lot of people impressed.

And there was also the spin-off group Tom Tom Club. In June 1981, “Wordy Rappinghood” was released, which reached no. 7. This meant that there was the rather bizarre situation of the spin-off from Talking Heads having a Top Ten hit single in the UK before the main one. Their October 1981 follow-up “Genius Of Love” is rather great too, and it’s a surprise that this reached only no. 65, although this has been sampled by several other acts.

Tom Tom Club’s only other hit single was August 1982’s “Under The Boardwalk”. Around this time, Talking Heads released more singles, but they missed the Top 50. But in October 1985, “Road To Nowhere” was released. This reached no. 6, to become their first (or maybe second) Top Ten hit in the UK. I am also fond of the video, I do think that it’s up there with “Sledgehammer” for its creativeness and originality.

Curiously, some of their better known songs, including “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down The House” were never hit singles at all. But in February 1986, “And She Was” reached no. 17. However, their hits would start to drop off again after this, and they didn’t make the Top 40 again. 1986’s “Wild Wild Life” was another good one, but this wasn’t very successful.

1987’s “Radio Head” is best-known now for inspiring the name of a successful group, and 1988’s “Blind” was just about their final time on the chart. There was only one more minor hit in 1992, and they carried on following the departure of their frontman as The Heads, which lasted about five minutes. But in 2002, Byrne returned as the guest vocalist on X-Press 2’s “Lazy”, which reached no. 2, giving him his biggest hit over 20 years on from “Once In A Lifetime”, and he has also made several solo albums.


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