July 1978: Talking Heads Release MORE SONGS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND FOOD

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

New York post-punk pioneers Talking Heads had made a splash with the band's debut album, Talking Heads: 77. The menacing but compelling single, "Psycho Killer," was able to crash the Hot 100, peaking at #92 over the week of March 11, 1978 (FUN FACT: the #1 song in America that week was Andy Gibb's "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water").

The group was eager to get back into the studio for album number two, this time with a new producer twiddling the console knobs: Brian Eno.

"What makes Eno a great leader is that he's willing to share everything he knows," bassist Tina Weymouth told CREEM magazine in 1979.  "Eno thinks our albums are hoovering music, which was suggested by David's manner of moving around in the studio. David moves around the studio as if he were a janitor cleaning up and vacuuming while whistling an idiotic tune. His second description of our music is 'music to do your housework by.' Even though we had confidence in ourselves, Eno knows how to make people do things they would think impossible. He's very disciplined."

While in the studio, Eno helped shaped Talking Heads' distinctive sound, honing in on the rhythm section of Weymouth and her husband, drummer Chris Frantz. His unorthodox approach lightened the mood during the proceedings, incorporating anyone in the vicinity into the process.

"On the last album he turned us from complete novices to naturals in the studio," Weymouth said. "He had all the black bohemian receptionists and typing people in the studio, 'cause he had a crush on one. David said we should call the album Tina And The Typing Pool!"

Released on July 14, 1978, More Songs About Buildings and Food was another sensation on the underground rock circuit. It was also the album to introduce the band to the mainstream charts, with the LP peaking at #29 on the Billboard 200 over the week of November 25, 1978. The biggest full-length in the country that week: Billy Joel's 52nd Street.

"We broke the ice for a lot of bands," Chris Frantz told CREEM in 1979. "We were the first of the new wave bands to make the charts. It meant we had a bigger hit single than even Elvis Costello!"

Helping propel the album was a stark, ominous take on Al Green's 1974 classic, "Take Me to the River." The breakout single took the long way up the charts, ascended all the way to #26 over the week February 10, 1979. In stark contrast, the #1 song on the chart was Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Regarding the album's memorable title, Weymouth revealed that it sprang fully formed from the mind of her beat-keeping husband: "When we were making (third studio LP Fear of Music), I remembered this stupid discussion we had about titles for the last album. At that time I said, 'What are we gonna call an album that's just about buildings and food?' And Chris said, 'You call it more songs about buildings and food.'"