TALKING HEADS ’77 Turns 40

Monday, September 18, 2017
Talking Heads 77

40 years ago this week, Talking Heads released their self-titled debut album, an effort which put the NYC-based band on the map straight out of the gate.

Recorded at Sundragon Studios in New York City, TALKING HEADS ’77 may have been rapturously received by critics, but it took some time before the band managed to find their way to Sire Records, the label which would serve as their home for the duration of their career.

Formed from the ashes of a band called The Artistics, which featured David Byrne and Chris Frantz among its members, Talking Heads came together after Byrne, Frantz, and Frantz’s girlfriend, Tina Weymouth moved from Rhode Island – where they’d been going to the Rhode Island School of Design – to New York City. When Byrne and Frantz couldn’t find a bassist, Frantz suggested that Weymouth consider the gig and told her to listen to Suzi Quatro albums and learn how to play bass, which she did. They started playing around NYC in 1975 and secured enough buzz to record some demos for CBS Records, but they ultimately went nowhere. Thankfully, Sire saw something in the band (and, one presumes, the following they were building) and signed Talking Heads in late 1976, releasing their first single, "Love ? Building on Fire," before the end of the year. Jerry Harrison entered the mix a few months later, after which they recorded their debut album.

TALKING HEADS ’77 didn’t set the charts alight, sadly. In fact, it didn’t chart at all in the US, and even in the UK, where tastes are famously more eclectic, it only climbed to #60. The album did, however, find a certain amount of success with one of its singles, “Psycho Killer,” which hit #92 on the Billboard Hot 100. No, that wasn’t a massive hit, either, but it helped the band enter the public consciousness, and once they’d done that, they were on their way to future success.

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