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Life's What You Make it,
Celebrate it,
Anticipate it
-- Talk Talk
Talk Talk
Mark Hollis (vocals, keyboards),
Lee Harris (drums), Paul Webb (bass)
( 1981-1991)

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"In which the tale is told of how shiny pop also-rans from the early 80s ended up recording some of the loveliest sounds of that or any other decade. It’s a story apt to confuse. People familiar with early Talk Talk might be surprised by their later work. What connects, say, 1982’s single, ‘Talk Talk’ and ‘I Believe in You’, a track from 1988’s Spirit of Eden album? Apart from the distinctive, mournful voice of chief songwriter Mark Hollis, the immediate answer appears to be, not a lot. The first is snappy, effervescent pop; the second is not really a song in the verse-chorus-verse sense. If the term had not been abused, you might even call it ‘mood music,’ instruments providing ‘colour’ as much as musical structure. It’s a good tale, then: one of a band learning on the job, finding new styles even though the old one was fine and bankable enough.

Hollis formed the band in 1981 with drummer Lee Harris and bassist Paul Webb. Hit singles, ‘Talk Talk’ and ‘Today’ quickly followed. At the time, they dealt in a superior version of electro dance, bolstered by a smart grasp of melody. It worked well, though Hollis’s voice suggested he was suffering from something. Or maybe he was just pondering the next move. 1984’s It’s My Life followed in a similar vein, but 1986’s The Colour of Spring hinted that there might be life beyond the short pop song. Hence, Spirit of Eden, released two years later – less a collection than a suite of sounds...."
-- Robert Yates, Q Magazine

  Talk Talk Discography - Album / CD Reviews

***¼ 1982: The Party's Over

"Originally made up of Hollis, keyboardist Simon Brenner, bassist Paul Webb, and drummer Lee Harris, the band formed in the U.K. in 1981 and released their debut album The Party's Over in 1982 during the height of the New Wave era. This record spawned their first hits, Mirror Man and Talk Talk, though today it sounds a tad superficial. During sessions for the next album, the band was reconfigured without Brenner. "
-- Mac Randall, Yahoo! Launch

***½ 1984: It's My Life audio
"After an unremarkable debut, Talk Talk regrouped and refashioned themselves more in the style of sophisto-era Roxy Music while developing their own voice. It's My Life shows a great leap in songwriting, the band making highly personal statements with a sexy, seductive groove and a diversity that transcends the synth-pop tag. Synthesizers still play a dominant role, but the music is made far more interesting by mixing 'real' instruments and challenging world music rhythms seamlessly with the technology. Still pulling off the catchy single (like Dum Dum Girl and the title track, as well as the simply sublime Does Caroline Know?) on It's My Life, Talk Talk also proved themselves capable of achieving a cohesive album... "
-- Chris Woodstra, AMG

***½ 1986: The Colour of Spring audio
"As it happens, sitting between the post-new romantic pop of 1982’s The Party’s Over and 1984’s It’s My Life, and the studiously esoteric, minutely crafted offerings that were 1988’s Spirit of Eden and 1991’s Laughing Stock, this 1986 album is perfect vinyl-junkie fodder. Songs as sweetly sophisticated as ‘Happiness is Easy’ and ‘Give It Up’ are never going to sound good confronted with pre-CD problems such as dust and static, but the rolling groove and echoing guitar of ‘Life’s What You Make It’ and the bluesy, hammond-heavy ‘Living In Another World’ could never sound as deeply warm in any other format. "
-- Q Magazine

**** 1988: Spirit of Edenaudio
"Ages away from their debut synthpop release, Spirit of Eden sees Mark Hollis confidently guiding his band into more textured, atmospheric and ambient music, sounding almost like David Sylvian's solo releases. With Hollis' velvety mournful voice being the only element linking Spirit of Eden to The Party's Over, Talk Talk willingly step away from the pop charts success, never to revisit it again. While the album stands as a solid piece of work as a whole, I Believe in You and Desire might very well be two of the best songs Talk Talk ever produced."
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 6/02

**** 1990: Natural History: The very Best of Talk Talkaudio
A collection of hits and outstanding tracks taken from Talk Talk's first three albums.

**¾ 1991: Laughing Stockaudio
(...) Laughing Stock is an album produced from artistic struggle, the work of men fighting to claim the peripheries of their pop remit. Untouched by contemporary trends – you will find no indie-dance, grunge or shoe-gazing here – Talk Talk were quite simply doing their own thing, following dark paths that will surprise anyone who remembers them merely for their brush with chart fame and the long-coated appearances on Saturday Superstore’s Video Vote.
From the opening ‘Myrrhman’ – a haze of strings and guitar – to the improvisatory squall and swell of ‘After the Flood’, it’s clear that the singer’s concerns stretch beyond mere love and into the spiritual realm. You could see it as the deconstruction of the relatively conventional hook-driven ‘Life’s What You Make It’. Tracks such as ‘Taphead’, the soulful ‘Ascension Day’ and ‘New Grass’, with its string flurries, rise slowly from a mist of instrumentation, but the emotional heat here stops Laughing Stock from being mere academic indulgence.
Most vitally, though, this is music brimming with ideas, unafraid to turn from populism to musical libertarianism.
-- Victoria Segal, The Times
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Recommended Links:

Spirit of Talk Talk
Another World: Talk Talk & MarkHollis
 
Similar/Related Artists:

Mark Hollis | Duran Duran | David Sylvian | Japan | The Psychedelic Furs | Classix Nouveaux | Roxy Music | Bryan Ferry

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