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May 13, 1988 - Image 30

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-05-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

a lush, natural Eden: "If this is paradise," com-
plains the narrator, "I wish I had a lawnmower."
"The Democratic Circus" takes a nasty swipe at
the American electoral process, calling it a "big top
imitation of life," and describing political adver-
tising as "Stealing all our dreams / Dreams for
sale / They sell 'em back to you."
Most of the material, however, is open-ended.
Some of the details in "Mommy Daddy You and I"
seem to be drawn from Byrne's past, but the action
of the story is unclear. "Blind" and "Ruby Dear"
combine images of decay with the shards of cliches
that Byrne seems to collect, twist and recycle.
What do they mean? Whatever the listener de-
cides. "I like it when it surprises me," says Byrne.
"When it sounds fresh and surprising and I can't
quite pin it down and say quite what it is and where
it came from. If you can pin it down, often it's not
going to get inside of you, like it will when it has
some mystery to it."
Musically, the album represents both a return

Expanded band, off and on
stage (1980): Frantz, Busta
Jones, Harrison,
Weymouth (above left,
rear); Steve Scales,
Dolette McDonald,
Adrian Belew, Byrne,
Bernie Worrell (front)

and a departure. "Naked" moves away from the
spare sound of the last two Heads albums-"True
Stories" and "Little Creatures"-and what Harri-
son calls "investigations of American song forms."
This record packs sounds and instruments togeth-
er into the kind of density heard on "Remain in
Light" (1980) and "Speaking in Tongues" (1983).
Sixteen people play on "Mr. Jones" and 12 on "Big
Daddy." The fewest on an individual track is six-
"The Democratic Circus" and "Cool Water."
But this album goes far beyond the funkatized
music heard on "Remain" and "Speaking." "Na-
ked" was recorded in Paris, using an international
cast of guest musicians, including keyboardist
Wally Badarou from Benin, guitarist Yves
N'Djock from Cameroon, percussionist Abdou
M'Boup from Senegal and guitarist Johnny Marr
(formerly of The Smiths) from England. In addi-
tion to simply wanting to hang out in Paris, the
band wanted to tap into the city's cosmopolitan
music scene. "There was a real cultural ex-
change," says Weymouth. "We went over there
and played their styles and they played our styles.
And between the two we created a cultural hybrid
that crosses cultural boundaries."
Sometimes the juxtapositions are breathtak-
ing. U.S. meets Africa on "Totally Nude," when
the country-western swooping of American Eric
Weisberg's pedal-steel guitar intertwines with
the joyful chattering of N'Djock's electric guitar.
African and Latin percussion flavor the entire
album, and "Mr. Jones" uses a salsa-based horn
arrangement. Yet the album definitely sounds
like Talking Heads. Unlike Paul Simon's "Grace-
land," which immersed the singer in the musical
context of foreign musicians, "Naked" immerses
foreign musicians in the musical context of
Talking Heads.
Choosing how to record "Naked" was a major
decision for the band. Because they create music
organically, gradually evolving from starting
point toward the final result, Harrison says, "We

Byrne from the concert
movie 'Stop Making Sense':
Well suited


MAY 1988

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