Talk Talk

Talk Talk was an English art-pop band that released the 1982–86 EMI albums The Party’s Over, It’s My Life, and The Colour of Spring, followed by the 1988 Parlophone release Spirit of Eden and 1991 swan song Laughing Stock. They scored UK–European hits with “Today,” “Such a Shame,” “Life’s What You Make It,” and the eighties evergreens “Talk Talk” and “It’s My Life.”

Members: Mark Hollis (vocals, piano, organ, guitar, variophone, Mellotron), Lee Harris (drums), Paul Webb (bass, backing vocals, 1981-88), Simon Brenner (keyboards, 1981-83)


Background

Talk Talk formed in 1981 when Tottenham musician and composer Mark Hollis teamed with keyboardist Simon Brenner and the rhythm section of the unrecorded Essex ska act Eskalator: bassist Paul Webb and drummer Lee Harris.

Hollis (1955–2019) first appeared in 1977 fronting The Reaction, formed at the encouragement of his older brother, DJ and producer Ed Hollis, then-manager of Eddie and the Hot Rods. The Reaction cut the taut, aggressive “Talk Talk Talk Talk,” included on the multi-artist punk compilation Streets, released on Beggars Banquet. Their second and final release, the pile-driven mod-rocker “I Can’t Resist” (b/w “I Am a Case”), appeared in 1978 on Island.

After the initial wave of punk, Hollis took an interest in symphonic-rock, post-bop, and the third stream collaborations between Miles Davis and Gil Evans. The spacious intricacy on Miles’ 1959–60 albums Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain inspired Mark’s next band, named after the 1977 Reaction song.


The Party’s Over

Talk Talk released their debut album, The Party’s Over, on July 13, 1982, on EMI.

1. “Talk Talk” (3:20)
2. “It’s So Serious” (3:19)
3. “Today” (3:28)
4. “The Party’s Over” (6:10)

5. “Hate” (3:56)
6. “Have You Heard the News?” (5:05)
7. “Mirror Man” (3:18)
8. “Another Word” (3:12)
9. “Candy” (4:40)

Credits:
Mark Hollis — vocals
Paul Webb — bass
Lee Harris — drums
Simon Brenner — keyboards

Mike Robinson — mixing
James Marsh — cover art
Bill Smith — design
Colin Thurston — producer, recording engineer

February 1982, “Mirror Man” / non-album “Strike Up the Band”

B. “Strike Up the Band” ()

March 1982, “Talk Talk” / non-album “?”

B. “?” ()

“Today” / “It’s So Serious”
Released: June 1982


“My Foolish Friend”

On March 7, 1983, “My Foolish Friend” / “Call In The Night Boys”


It’s My Life

Talk Talk released their second album, It’s My Life, in February 1984 on EMI.

1. “Dum Dum Girl” Tim Friese-Greene, Mark Hollis (3:51)
2. “Such a Shame” Hollis (5:42)
3. “Renée” Hollis (6:22)
4. “It’s My Life” Friese-Greene, Hollis (3:50)

5. “Tomorrow Started” Hollis (5:57)
6. “The Last Time” Ian Curnow, Hollis (4:23)
7. “Call in the Night Boy” Simon Brenner, Hollis (3:47)
8. “Does Caroline Know?” Hollis (4:40)
9. “It’s You” Hollis (4:41)

Recorded 1983

Mark Hollis – lead vocals and backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Paul Webb – fretless bass (except on “The Last Time”), backing vocals
Lee Harris – electronic drums

Additional personnel
Tim Friese-Greene – synthesizers, piano, programming and drum machine
Ian Curnow – keyboards
Phil Ramocon – piano
Robbie McIntosh – guitars
Morris Pert – percussion
Henry Lowther – trumpet on “Renée” and “Tomorrow Started”
Phil Spalding (uncredited) – bass guitar on “The Last Time”

“It’s My Life”
Released: 6 January 1984

“Such a Shame” / “Again, A Game…Again”
Released: 26 March 1984

B. “Again, A Game…Again” ()

“Dum Dum Girl” / “Without You”
Released: July 1984

B. “Without You” ()

Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) 2
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) 3
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) 4
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 27
UK Albums (OCC) 35 


The Colour of Spring

Talk Talk released their third album, The Colour of Spring, on February 17, 1986, on EMI.

1. “Happiness Is Easy” (6:30)
2. “I Don’t Believe in You” (5:02)
3. “Life’s What You Make It” (4:29)
4. “April 5th” (5:51)

5. “Living in Another World” (6:58)
6. “Give It Up” (5:17)
7. “Chameleon Day” (3:20)

Recorded 1985, London
Studio Battery Studios, Videosonics Studios

Mark Hollis — lead vocals, piano (3, 5, 6, 7), Variophon (1, 4, 7), organ (4), Mellotron (track 6), electric guitar (8), melodica (8)
Lee Harris — drums (except 4, 7)
Paul Webb — bass guitar (2, 4, 5, 6, 8), backing vocals (3, 5)

Additional personnel
Tim Friese-Greene — producer, piano (1, 2, 8), Kurzweil Synthesizer (1, 4, 7), organ (tracks 3, 6, 8), Variophon (4, 7), Mellotron (3)
Ian Curnow — synthesizer solos (2, 6)
Martin Ditcham — percussion (1, 3, 5, 6, 8)
Mark Feltham — harmonica (5)
Alan Gorrie — electric bass (1)
Robbie McIntosh — guitar (1, 2, 5, 8), Dobro (4, 6)
Morris Pert — percussion (1, 2, 5, 8)
Phil Reis — percussion (1)
David Rhodes — guitar (3, 5, 6)
David Roach — soprano saxophone (2, 4, 5)
Gaynor Sadler — harp (2)
Danny Thompson — acoustic bass (1)
Children from the school of Miss Speake — children’s choir (1)
Ambrosian Singers — choir (8)
Steve Winwood — organ (1, 2, 5)

Technical
Dennis Weinrich — engineer
Dietmar Schillinger — engineer
Paul Schroeder — engineer
Pete Wooliscroft — engineer
James Marsh — cover art

“Life’s What You Make It” / “It’s Getting Late In The Evening”
Released: January 1986 (UK)

B. “It’s Getting Late In The Evening” ()

“Living in Another World” / “For What It’s Worth”
Released: March 1986

B. “For What It’s Worth” ()

“Give It Up” / “Pictures of Bernadette”
Released: May 1986

B. “Pictures of Bernadette” ()

“I Don’t Believe in You” / “Does Caroline Know” (Live Version)
Released: November 1986

Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) 3
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 7
UK Albums (OCC) 8
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) 11
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista) 12
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria) 16


Spirit of Eden

Talk Talk released their fourth album, Spirit of Eden, on September 12, 1988, on Parlophone.

1. “The Rainbow” (9:05)
2. “Eden” (6:37)
3. “Desire” (6:57)

4. “Inheritance” (5:16)
5. “I Believe in You” (6:11)
6. “Wealth” (6:35)

Recorded 11 May 1987 – 11 March 1988
Studio Wessex Studios in Highbury, London

Mark Hollis – vocals, piano, organ, guitar, melodica and Variophon (uncredited)
Lee Harris – drums
Paul Webb – electric bass guitar

Additional personnel
Tim Friese-Greene – harmonium, piano, organ, guitar
Martin Ditcham – percussion
Robbie McIntosh – dobro, twelve-string guitar
Mark Feltham – harmonica
Simon Edwards – Mexican bass
Danny Thompson – double bass
Henry Lowther – trumpet
Nigel Kennedy – violin
Hugh Davies – shozygs
Andrew Stowell – bassoon
Michael Jeans – oboe
Andrew Marriner – clarinet
Christopher Hooker – cor anglais
Choir of Chelmsford Cathedral
Phill Brown – engineering, bowed guitar
Tim Friese-Greene – production
James Marsh – cover art

“I Believe in You”
Released: September 1988

Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) 12
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) 16
UK Albums (OCC) 19


Laughing Stock

Talk Talk released their fifth album, Laughing Stock, on September 16, 1991, on Verve and Polydor.

1. “Myrrhman” (5:33)
2. “Ascension Day” (6:00)
3. “After the Flood” (9:39)

4. “Taphead” (7:39)
5. “New Grass” (9:40)
6. “Runeii” (4:58)

Recorded September 1990 – April 1991
Studio Wessex Studios in Highbury, London

Mark Hollis – vocals, guitar, piano, organ, melodica, Variophon
Lee Harris – drums, percussion

Other musicians
Tim Friese-Greene – producer, piano, organ, harmonium
Mark Feltham – harmonica
Martin Ditcham – percussion
Levine Andrade, Stephen Tees, George Robertson, Gavyn Wright, Jack Glickman, Garfield Jackson, Wilf Gibson – viola
Simon Edwards, Ernest Mothle – acoustic bass
Roger Smith, Paul Kegg – cello
Henry Lowther – trumpet, flugelhorn
Dave White – contrabass clarinet

Technical personnel
Phill Brown – engineer
James Marsh – cover illustration

“After the Flood (Outtake)”
Released: September 1991
“New Grass”
Released: 28 October 1991
“Ascension Day”
Released: November 1991


Discography:

  • The Party’s Over (1982)
  • It’s My Life (1984)
  • The Colour of Spring (1986)
  • Spirit of Eden (1988)
  • Laughing Stock (1991)

Sources:

1 thought on “Talk Talk

  1. Original intro (2018) “Talk Talk was an English art-pop band from London that released three albums on EMI between 1982 and 1986, followed by two further albums on Phonogram and Verve between 1988 and 1991. The band achieved its greatest success with the 1982 album The Party’s Over and its lead-off single “Talk Talk,” a radical reworking of the song “Talk Talk Talk Talk” that front-man Mark Hollis recorded five years earlier with The Reaction.”

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