Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Archivist - Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden

I was a big fan of the late 70s early 80s electronic movement. I loved Talk Talk from the first album onwards. If ever a band grew in brilliance over just 5 albums, then this was THE Band. From simple formulaic beginnings they became a seminal band who influenced many a musician thereafter.
The debut album, The Party's Over - included the hits Talk Talk & Today and was very much in keeping with what was popular back in 1982. Most saw another pop band. I saw something a bit deeper. A good grasp of melody and a willingness to explore.


As was proved with the next album, It's My Life in '84. It spawned 3 hit singles, It's my Life, It's a Shame & Dumb Dumb Girl. The band, made up of vocalist & multi instrumentalist Mark Hollis, Lee Harris on Drums & Paul Webb on bass were increasingly supplemented by Tim Friese-Greene's keyboards. And became a further step away from their synthpop beginnings. The songs were more intricate and the sound was expanding.
But nobody expected what was coming next.
Now two years later and with Tim Freise-Greene becoming an uncredited member of the band,  Talk Talk made a giant leap forward with The Colour Of Spring.
The band now bringing in more acoustic instruments and relying less on electronic keyboards, this was a huge leap forward. The album proved to be THE turning point for the band, with ALL the songs now being written by Mark Hollis & Tim Friese-Greene, it resulted in a more organic and 'human' sound and approach, it also resulted in 3 hit singles with Life's What You Make It, Living In Another World & Give It Up. I loved this album and played it to death but even I didn't expect the Masterpiece which was going to be their next album. Released in 1988, it was Spirit Of Eden.

Now it's not many albums that can bring a tear to my eye but Spirit Of Eden WAS one of those very special albums. I remember the first time I played it. It left me speechless. It WAS like a spiritual experience.
It was almost jazz in places. Free form music that Hollis & Friese-Greene had accumulated through many days of improvised playing. But it had a stately, elegiac presence that was SO far from their beginnings that you wondered how the hell they were going to follow it. Where else was left for them to go? There was only one single released from the album, the beautiful, 'I Believe In You' but was edited down for single release. Taking much of it's impact away. Here's the full version.
Again, with all the songs written by Hollis & Friese-Greene, the album contained only 6 songs with all but one being over 6 minutes in length. It is very dynamic. Ranging from very quiet, almost hushed vocals to loud soundscapes. Although the overall feel is of intense delicacy. With a multitude of instruments including a choir.
Talk Talk would release one more album, Laughing Stock. This was much in keeping with Spirit Of Eden. And signalled the final glorious sounds of a band that had reached its nadir and had nowhere else to develop into.
Frontman Mark Hollis did release a solo album called Mark Hollis in 1998 and then 'Did A Rimbaud'.
What music would have been produced by Talk Talk or Mark Hollis, God only knows but one thing's for sure, it would have been unexpected.
By the way.


  1. Love this album Nick. I put it on at work when things start to pile up... It's the opposite of caffeine!

  2. great stuff - the solo lp took it to its natural conclusion ending with a period of silence. Colour of Spring is still the high point for me