Retrospectively speaking …
If often amazes me when I read reviews of bands/artists/musicians from back in the day. I read the content and wonder if the review has been mistitled? Am I actually reading about this and that band/singer?? Well, yes. More often than not, the title is correct, and the anti-sentiments ARE indeed directed at the artist(s) in question. I use the term “anti-sentiment” predominantly because I feel that a lot of these subjective commentaries are made as a result of some gagging, heaving reflex that some journalists have when a new talent comes on the scene, especially those who appear to be the apple of the record labels eye – something which befell Talk Talk after they signed to EMI and were heavily promoted as being the next big thing.
It was unfortunate for the group that they were stable mates of New Romantic royalty Duran Duran; it was even more regrettable that lead singer, Mark Hollis, had adopted a closed-eyed, head shaking stage persona, whose mannerisms were hugely resonant of Bryan Ferry, something for which he was continuously ridiculed (but who is parodying the parody?).
Spewing out casual under par verbal vitriol seemed to be par for course. It’s a lot easier to make a sweeping criticism than actually take the time to pen a musically intelligent review – maybe that was part of the problem, maybe some of these folks were lacking in musical intelligence. Or maybe, it was more hip to be a bit “outré”, a bit anti-establishment; man and his weapon of mass destruction – a manual Remington.
In light of their success (and let’s face it, Talk Talk were successful enough to allow Hollis to effectively retire in 1998 at the age of 43), I’m fascinated to know if the opinions of these wunderkinds of music media have changed over the years?
How did these music journalists feel when their words proved wholly inaccurate, when their predictions fell flatter than the tone in which they were written? Hmmm….
Let’s mix up some commentaries made about Talk Talk over the years and see how they panned out! Fancy some music, while you’re mulling over these words of wisdom? Sure thing 🙂
Anonymous from the “Record Mirror” 17th April, 1982.
“Watery reflections of Duran Duran and Simple Minds, a contrived looking image of pretty boys all in white – gee, is virginity making a comeback? – and that’s about the size of it. The next big what? Don’t make me laugh”.
Mike Nicholls “Record Mirror” 17th July, 1982.
“Nothing to Say” Talk Talk :”The Party’s Over”
“The Party’s what!!??? Hang on, I can see their point. Meticulously packaged as EMI’s brightest new pop-age futurists yet with two non-hits behind them, Talk Talk must be wondering if they haven t already shot their gleaming poisoned arrow. Except there’s no poison, just the bland leading the bland down a foggy thoroughfare of synthesized nothingness. Okay, so they’re young and singer-songwriter Mark Hollis should get over his Ferry fixation and adolescent lyrics.
Rather than regarding themselves as pretty boys – which is just as well – Talk Talk adopt the pose of serious artists but just end up making complete bozos of themselves … if they are to get any farther these guys should seriously contemplate their roles in the universe as we know it.”
Jim Reid “Record Mirror” 13th November, 1982.
I say…I say
Loquacious Talk Talk meet garrulous Jim Reid.
“Mark Hollis is very earnest about his music. Though his band have often been written off as shallow and plastic, there is a seriousness and honesty about Talk Talk’s approach that will help them to outlast their more lauded rivals. Simply, Talk Talk put their music first and worry about the trimming later. Mark stands in contrast to the other, younger, members of the band, having a more restrained, reflective attitude to life.”
Stand up that man, Jim Reid – the only one of three (out of several) writers for “Record Mirror” to get it! And let’s face it, Mike Nicholls was just plain rude. There was no relevant context to the piece – it was just a negative rant about nothing. And as for anonymous, well, the anonymity says it all really. I totally dig the fact the JR gets that it was all about the music, and moreso that he “got” where Hollis was coming from. Back in 1982, all shiny and new Rom electronic noise, “restrained, reflective” weren’t really done! So respect for getting that and the 10/10 for the prediction: “Talk Talk’s approach that will help them to outlast their more lauded rivals”
Fast forward –
And here we go again……….Would you like some more noise? Course ya would!
Anonymous from the “Melody Maker” 11th January, 1986.
Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It”
“Talk Talk (to the best of my recollection) used to be a poxy synth band with grandiose ambitions and though this, their first record for ages, is choked in a stranglehold of production intricacy, the underlying song seems better than their burbling twaddle of old.
Sophisticated but not too clever-dick, the song doesn’t boast a great deal of personality, but it’s one of those that insinuates its way onto the airwaves and makes if perpetrators very rich indeed.
Probably worth keeping an eye on.”
Gavin Martin, “NME”, 22nd February, 1986.
“Hark! First Cuckoo” Talk Talk: The Colour of Spring (EMI)
NME: 22nd February 1986
Talk Talk music moves so warily, so slow, sombre, and stilted that they seem to actively decry any drive or warmth. Bestriding the huge empty husk of progressive rock they attempt to piece together a sparkling, meaningful sound picture, but are trapped by the dreary Hollis poetry (all there on the sleeve in scrawny schoolboyish handwriting) and the way they make everything sound like a long, gruelling journey through Hades.
Still, they have the straining despair and moribund conventional approach that passes for rigorous intellect and challenging pop in some quarters. A sad reflection on the dumb, dull mega-market but Talk Talk could become this year’s Tears For Fears.
Anonymous from the “Melody Maker” 10th May, 1986.
Talk Talk’s “Give it Up”
“Secretly, I’ve spent many a quiet hour with the ravishing Talk Talk album, one of those really great records that sneaks up on you unawares to become a family favourite. This band are so clever and so understated, full and rich with textural style that is never loud or jarring but relies on intricacy and sensuality to convey its delicate flavours. It’s my humble opinion that Talk Talk are a pocket of unsung genius in this often uninspired realm of pop. Let the single swirl around you as a taster of their infinite variety.”
Anonymous 1 is hedging his bets. He is staying with the negative grain ( he reminds me of a resentful Communist – oh those Capitalists making money, oh poor me!) whilst admitting in a rather oblique way that the song has potential.
Gavin Martin – really? Is this the best you can come up with?? “scrawny schoolboyish handwriting” – how childish are you?? Is this a music review or playground nah-na-nahs!
And oh – “A sad reflection on the dumb, dull mega-market” – who are you insulting there dude?? The sad market that bought the NME and now no longer does, methinks and wonders why!
Anonymous 2 – well, thank you. You listened to the music and you appreciated it. And beyond that, you actually commented on it! Not on the look, the attitude, the record company, the facial expression, the sales or otherwise. Just about the music.
Like Talk Talk always were….about the music.
Where are you now? And what do you feel/think/opine…..answers on a postcard to Anonymous@wordpress !!!
I’ll leave you with this piece of musical wondrousness……only you can make up your own mind whether these dudes of the day, were wrong or right. I know where I stand.