Talking Heads Albums Ranked Worst to Best
For the decade and a half that they held it together, Talking Heads led a charmed musical career as the most creative and sonically adventurous band to come out of the New York punk scene. We rank all eight of their studio albums from worst to best.
David Byrne (guitar/vocals), Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drums) met in the early ’70s as students at the Rhode Island School of Design. They moved to New York City and quickly fell in with the burgeoning scene centered around CBGB. After being signed to Sire and releasing the single “Love → Building on Fire,” they picked up Jerry Harrison, a guitarist/keyboardist who had been with Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.
Over the course of eight records, the group grew to embrace R&B, pop, funk, Afrobeat and other world music – incorporating bizarre permutations of each into their tightly wound sound. And somehow – amid being fiercely experimental and writing songs about serial murderers, conservation and midlife crises – Talking Heads had actual pop hits (partially thanks to MTV). Despite the commercial success of songs such as “Burning Down the House” and albums like Speaking in Tongues, most of the cool kids didn’t start calling for their, ahem, heads. Byrne and company pulled off the nifty trick of being immensely popular while simultaneously having their albums held up as paragons of forward-thinking pop-rock.
But how do those albums hold up now, more than 25 years after the band’s swan song was released? Let’s do some Heads-scratching and rank Talking Heads’ studio albums from worst to best.