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When Talking Heads formed in 1974, art school and punk rock collided. Although they didn’t sport the spiked hair and pinned shirts of punk fashion, they perfectly embodied outsider outlandishness and their stuttering vocals, choppy rhythms and detached lyrics fit right in at CBGB’s. But David Byrne’s smartly subversive songwriting was bound to find an audience bigger than the punk rock elite of New York. With Fear of Music (1979), Talking Heads began to radiate a somber power as they beefed up their previously lean sound with African rhythms. Remain in Light, one of the most striking albums of its or any other decade, with meticulous yet completely driving rhythms. Though highly experimental, the production had enough conventional flourishes to make the single “Once in a Lifetime” a radio success. With the blueprint set, the band built on its success over the course of the 1980s, featuring among other things a 1984 concert film that’s widely considered one of the best of the breed. The music of the Talking Heads is so immediate that its world beat-inspired sound feels unique in whatever context it’s heard. Talking Heads officially disbanded in 1991, bringing an inevitable close to one of the most creative and experimental success stories in rock ‘n’ roll.

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