Talk Talk

Talk Talk

A history of a forgotten group from the eighties

For ten tears, from 1981 to 1991, this group went from celebrity to obscurity, despite their musical evolution and depth. What started out as a stable mate to boy’s band Duran-Duran, and a sound that was decidedly mainstream, this group slowly evolved over ten years and five studio albums into one of the best groups of the eighties. Laughing stock, their last album, sold less than half a million copies, but is one of the best albums of the last 25 years.


Mark Hollis, Lee Harris, Paul Webb ,Simon Brenner, de facto member Tim Freise-Green along with Henry Lowther, the jazz legend , the career of whom spans from Hawkwind to Keef Hartley to Talk Talk appears on three albums. This then was the nucleus of Talk Talk.

Five albums, ranging from pop to new wave to jazz.

The party’s over- hit single ‘talk talk’

Its my life – hits ‘such a shame’, ‘its my life’

The colour of spring hit ‘life’s what you make it’

Spirit of Eden had no singles

Laughing stock had no singles

The last album was 1991

Then silence for 6 years and the lead singer launched a solo album, Mark Hollis. The group had broken up, become Portishead, O.rang and Heligoland. Hollis ‘retired’ from music and left behind these classics to treasure.


Albums and Writers

Rolling stone magazine compared and listed their top 100 artists of all time, ranging from “Talking Heads” at 100 all the way to number one,  who are ,rather predictably “The Beatles”

They asked stars from current rock groups to write a piece about their idols, except for Little Richard who wrote about himself.


For The Beatles appreciation, written by Elvis Costello, a phrase hits you in the middle of the mind. Costello says the songs of The Beatles aren’t their songs any more, but everybody”s songs. The crowd’s reaction is one of the collective unconscious.


This got me thinking. Are there books like this, which aren’t the author’s anymore, but everyone’s?

I thought about “1984” by George Orwell. Or “Great Expectations” by Dickens. Or even “Hamlet” by Shakespeare. Or perhaps works like The Bible, The Qur’an or other religious works. Books which don’t belong to the author, rather to everyone.

Generally I’m not a big fan of top 100 things as Its rather subjective, except for the best in any field. Most people would agree that The Beatles were the best pop group. Best artist of all time? I’m not so sure. It almost seems to say ‘There is no point trying to do any better, because  you can’t’  but I think other people did and will do. Besides, the list forgets Classical music. It’s  rather like making a list of best painters of all time, and then just including painters since 1950.

Writers for everyone? Songs for everyone? Are we more likely to hear someone humming ‘Penny Lane’ or quoting a poem or a passage from a long lost tome. Doesn’t it all boil down to the same in the end?

‘The boy stood on the burning deck’ or ‘Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes’

What are the best books anyway?

lists the best selling books, but if they are the best, its debatable. And some books aren’t on the list, like The Qur’an, The Bible or even the Ikea catalog.

Well then, how about most influential books?


or the best books


I’ve a feeling I could trawl through theses lists, and come out at the end with a list of the 100 lists.

Is it the case then?

Songs are just books to music? Or is it books that get put to music to make songs?

The best songs are also written about on Rolling Stone,

along with lists of best albums, best Beatles songs etc.

In the end, you are none the wiser, and still unswayed, sticking with your opinion, and your ideas. And still quoting Larkin instead of McCartney.