Talking Heads: 77

After "Love → Building On Fire" bounced onto the singles charts we expected great things from Talking Heads' first full effort, and the first half of "77" uncompromisingly fails to achieve them. David Byrne, if you're as smart as the lead track alleges you are, then where did you come up with such patent gibblegabble like "love is simple as 1-2-3"? Did you crib notes off the Jackson 5? By "No Compassion" I'm ready to break the disc into pieces except the local shop won't take fragments on trade-in. And then, just after that nadir, just when I've started thinking about how stupid this album is sounding and how they fooled us all, then the good stuff starts. "The Book I Read" is still a little lyrically imbecilic, but I'll give him points for humour (if this was meant for a real author, then I'd love to see the restraining order) and the band for some actual musical feeling and complexity. When he talks about the laws in this country that are his favourites and the civil servants that are his loved ones ("Don't Worry About The Government") this right-wing capitalist bastard wonders if he's really serious, but if it's snark it's witty and if it's earnestness it's certainly original. And then there's "Psycho Killer," which teaches all of us the finer points of being a homicidal maniac au français. The two stars isn't (just) because half the songs are bad; it's because this should have been an EP, and given what they've demonstrated they're capable of they have no excuse. The reissue adds "Love → Building On Fire," which, being programmed onto the second half, means you can go right on skipping the first. (Content: no concerns.)