[14] De Lux, ‘Oh Man The Future’


Speaking – a bit – of Talking Heads, here’s LA’s De Lux being all David Byrne and itchy disco. Junior reckons it’s a “bit annoying when he says ‘oh man the future’ again and again… It seems to go on forever. He’s a chatterbox.”

Sean Guerin does rabbit on, shoehorning as many words as possible into each ranting verse, but then he’s got a lot to tell us. The future’s a big place and plenty of stuff is going to happen. Oh man. It’s happening now.

Talking Heads, ‘Life During Wartime’

David Byrne and Brian Eno

For all Talking Heads’ – and Brian Eno’s – clean lines, ‘Life During Wartime’ has a touch of the melodramatic. Equating living in Manhattan with enduring life in a city under siege is extending a metaphor until it’s stretched enough to believe in itself, but David Byrne is a panic-eyed master of the paranoid, and here he and the rest of the ‘Heads scratch and jerk until they’re a twitching bug of insecurity.

Maybe New York felt like that in 1979 if you were strung out enough. After all, they were CHANGING THE FACE OF POPULAR MUSIC. “You oughta know not to stand by the window,” not while the style mag snipers are perched on the rooftops.

But how does it feel, coming to Talking Heads cold in 2012? “My head is talking right now,” is Junior’s literal response. More abstractly she and her sisters dissolve into a mess of muso faces and electroshock shimmies – a reasonable reaction to ‘Life During Wartime”s troublefunk.

After it fades there’s a moment of reflection before Junior decides the track is “in the middle”. But they were at the vanguard! They were pushing rock forward! “It sounds like a song from the olden days.”

[1] Talking Heads, ‘Once In A Lifetime’

Talking Heads

Rarely less than astonishing anyway, this is Talking Heads’ entrant for the pantheon – a dizzying, harebrained time-travel through our psyches from David Byrne, set to the finest groove ever laid down by our Tom Tom Club friends at No.20. Hell, it’s just the finest groove ever laid down. Period, I think they say. From the eternally exciting bass-pull at the beginning through to the howling, treated guitars spinning us around “Same as it ever was…”, this is music from the future we all wanted.

Junior may’ve found herself sitting on the backseat, wearing a tiger mask.

My God! What have I done?

[20] Tom Tom Club, ‘Genius Of Love’

Tom Tom Club

This is a hindsight Top 20, taking place a year before I started buying my own records and making my own tapes and obsessing over Duran Duran and the Top 40. 1981 was the year my sister began to record the chart rundown, introducing me to the wild sounds of Landscape and, erm, Alvin Stardust. Up to this point, all I knew were Beatles and Boney Ms, ABBAs and Brotherhoods Of Man. Now we had a dead Beatle and a declining, rended ABBA.

Partners in rhythm Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz were no longer satisfied with merely pushing the very corners of rock’s envelopes in Talking Heads’ engine room – or perhaps David Byrne and Brian Eno left no elbow room – and Tom Tom Club was the joyous diversion. Mixing funk, bags of funk, with pop, rap and world music, they revealed a sunnier side nowhere brighter than on the glorious ‘Genius Of Love’. It’s a tribute to a spiffing boyfriend wrapped up in loyal dedication to their funky forebears, and in a nice piece of symmetry has become one of the most sampled records – seized upon by trailblazers from Grandmaster Flash to, yes, Mariah Carey.

‘Genius Of Love’ locks into a groove, but Junior ain’t for dancin’. Apparently her baby sister “doesn’t want me to,” which is an impressive bit of inter-sibling communication – and we thought all they did was laugh at each other. But what does she think of the song? “I don’t like it; it makes me sad.” I’ve got it all wrong.

Talking Heads, ‘Once In A Lifetime’

At some stage, scrabbling around for a theme, we were going to do Jukebox Junior’s Top 10 Greatest Singles Of All Time but, what with ‘Young Americans’ already gone and now this, I’m throwing them away cheaply. This would be Number Four. Probably.

Also, I should’ve done this on a day that Junior was wearing oversized clothes with huge shoulders – not an uncommon occurrence – and not when she’s in her just-right denim dress. All in all, I’ve made a right pig’s ear of it. Junior’s not quasi-autistic like her dad, fortunately, so she couldn’t give two hoots about the circumstances. She’s right there with David Byrne’s nervy, scratchy paranoid funk twitches, even clapping at “there is water at the bottom of the ocean”. She finds the sublime in the ridiculous.

This is so far ahead of its time, I’m surprised it wasn’t drowned as a witch. Music caught up 10 years later when rock bands found dance elements to their music and Paul Oakenfold got rich. Talking Heads never needed help.