“Remain in Light” 33 Years Later: Carter Alan on Talking Heads’ Expansive Live Shows

Carter's Catalog | Video by Matt Dolloff, 100.7 WZLX

Alt-rock legends Talking Heads, led by David Byrne, released 8 albums during their relatively brief run and didn’t reach their true commercial breakthrough until their 1983 album Speaking in Tongues. But it’s their 1980 LP Remain in Light that towers above them all with its wild mix of sounds and styles, impeccable production and imagination by Brian Eno, and standout classic single “Once In A Lifetime”.

For the latest Carter’s Catalog, our own Carter Alan talks about the album and its effect on the Talking Heads’ live shows. They were already known for energetic live sets when they were merely a three-piece band, which Carter saw originally at the former home of the Rathskeller club in Boston.

But the expansive sound of Remain in Light, which accompanied World Music and African rhythms, among other styles and techniques, almost forced David Byrne and Co. to expand their original lineup to as many as nine members for live shows.

Carter saw Talking Heads live after the expansion, and he describes their performances as simply “unbelievable”, picking all the right musicians to fill in for the extra sounds and bringing relentless energy to the venues where they performed.

As a band known for their unique and powerful live performances, Remain in Light certainly produced plenty of great studio tracks as well, and ultimately cemented the band’s reputation as one of the best live acts of their time.

Carter’s Catalog is a regular web video series featuring WZLX Music Director and rock historian Carter Alan, who examines the impact and legacy of classic albums, often drawing on his own personal experience with famous artists. See much more from Carter here on WZLX.com.


Photo Credits:

Michael Markos [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jean-Luc (originally posted to Flickr as Talking Heads) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

More from Carter Alan

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