Tuesday, 11 September 2012


     Spirits living in another world

           Dogman, aka David Sands
  A review the first CD of the recently released                         
              SPIRIT OF TALK TALK CD 1’

A double album of Talk Talk songs covered by various artists and released by Fierce Panda (September 2012). fierce panda

Having lived through the decades which saw all the musical output that is Talk Talk and Mark Hollis (solo) to date, and bought everything that is available, I am comfortable with the songs. They are now a permanent part of my long term music-lyrical influences that includes the Shadows, Beatles, Paul Simon, Rolling Stones, The Blue Nile, The Cure and Neil Young with jazz and blues in between. 

When I was told about this tribute project through a Last Dinosaur tweet, and learned later the forthcoming James Marsh illustrated-book, I welcomed them both and looked forward to hearing and seeing them. I have several tributes CDs on favourites like Neil Young and The Stones and enjoy listening to them as 'covers' especially if they are creatively produced.  I should make a point clear. In my opinion there are two types of covers; the first is a mimic of the original and only seems worth doing when it’s for a tribute band/artist to make a living from and the second, a fresh take on a great song. Think ‘All along the Watchtower’, Dylan and then Hendrix - or ‘Nothing compares to you’ Prince and Sinead O’Connor, perhaps two of the finest examples of cover songs ever recorded.

So, here is my review of the first of the two CDs - with that in mind and for what my opinion is worth either nothing or something of interest – as a musician and Talk-Talk-phile.
Incidentally, when I first heard Talk Talk (the song) I hated Mark Hollis’s shouting, snarling vocal…  in contrast to Mirror man - the first single, which I liked. My least favourite Talk Talk song today, perhaps ironically, is ‘Life’s what you make it’. I always thought the song repetitive although I loved the Tim Pope video. I have now heard some covers (and a great live ‘groove’ version at the Launch party at 229, London). It is the only Talk Talk song I have covered and recorded to date. This is because Mikans, my keyboard partner in music, chose it (although I have played Renee live at gigs). My early demo (still in mixing) is here:


The Spirit of Talk Talk CD digipak is designed by Talk Talk’s now symbiotic graphic-artist, James Marsh with the artwork said to be based on a cover created in 1983 for a prospective album 'Chameleon Hour' (which was never released). The musical and production supervisor for the project is Alan Wilder with mastering by Denis Blackham, (who mastered many of Talk Talk’s albums). The Project has been managed by Toby Benjamin.

My opening comment about the Spirit of Talk Talk CD is that it is the first tribute record I have owned where there is more than one version of the same song. I would have appreciated a recorded date or year for each track. 
Incidentally, I listened to the songs of many of the artists as I was writing this review but finished with Mark’s solo album and loved hearing Watershed and A life for the hundredth time.

Here is part one of my review and sourced notes are given in [ ]
Opening Track:

1) Wealth – Lone Wolf

I had previously heard Paul Marshall on MySpace/Soundcloud (from Leeds) and thought this version shows off his great vocal technique and here is kind of in the Mark Hollis style.

[His own track Keep your eyes on the road is ace].

[Wealth is the last track on the Spirit of Eden the 4th Talk Talk album]

2) The colour of spring - Zero 7 (ft Only Girl)

I enjoyed this instrumentally but the female voice doesn’t work well enough for me and, eventually, is has a sterile acoustic-pop feel.

[Zero 7 is a British musical duo consisting of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. The group members began their musical careers as studio engineers and in 1997 formed the group Zero 7ZERO 7

[The opening track on Mark Hollis solo album]

3) I believe in you – Sean Carey

This is one of my favourite Talk Talk songs for many reasons, not the least a personal fact in that one of my four sons has drifted into heroin addiction. It is not so different than the original although Lexi Zunker’s bass flute is a great touch. Sean Carey, from Bon Ivor, gives a very decent vocal but he is not veering much away from Mark’s original vocal-style.

[Track 5 on Spirit of Eden, the 4th Talk Talk album]

Artwork from Spirit of Eden shown as part of a special animation from James Marsh 

4) Dum dum girl - Recoil (ft. Shara Worden)

The instrumental arrangement of this early Talk Talk song is really excellent – the deep drum – indicated to be the work of Martin Ditcham sourced by Steve Monty. The opening vocal seems a bit awkward but then I am not sure a female vocal works on this song even though it is polished.

 [Recoil is a musical project created by former Depeche Mode member, Alan Wilder. Essentially a solo venture, Recoil began whilst Wilder was still in Depeche Mode as an outlet for his experimental, less pop-oriented compositions]

[Dum Dum Girl opens the 2nd Talk Talk album, ‘It’s my life’]

5) Life's what you make it - Duncan Sheik

The arrangements, including atmospheric dulcimer and harmonium, together with shared-vocal between Duncan and Rachael Yamogata makes this cover version a really great track.

[Duncan Scott Sheik is an American singer-songwriter and composer. Sheik initially found success as a singer, most notably for his 1996 debut single ‘Barely Breathing’]

 Duncan website

My James Marsh Art T shirt available online

[third track on the Colour of Spring – the 3rd Talk Talk album]

6) The Rainbow – Thomas Feiner, Fyfe Dangerfield, Robbie Wilson

This should and could have been the opening track on this CD. As a cover version this is so different from Talk Talk and is currently my favourite of the opening tracks. It shares the original soundscape of The Rainbow but creates a fresh drama through a Thomas Feiner dark, brooding vocal which, somehow, brilliantly taps into the spirit of the Talk Talk version. The chorus is enhancing.   

Fyfe with me at the launch party September 2012

[The opening track on Spirit of Eden the 4th Talk Talk album]

7) After the flood - Halloween, Alaska

Starts well enough, with a driving beat, ringing guitar chords and a vocal that captures the merging of the voice as an instrument; in the Mark Hollis style. Then at 2.44 – or worse at 3.00 - it goes into late 80s disco?

[Halloween, Alaska is a Minnesota-based band consisting of James Diers, Jake Hanson, Bill Shaw, and David King. All of the group's members live in the Twin Cities. Original keyboardist and programmer Ev left the band in 2008]

[Track three from Laughing Stock, 5th and last Talk Talk album so far]

8) It's getting late in the evening - Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm and Davide Rossi

Not only my favourite Talk Talk ‘B side’ but this cover is also one of my favourites from this CD. It is lovely and in keeping with the song theme and, if I may dare to use the word again, atmosphere. It breathes and there is great musical air in between!

[released as a B side to Life's what you make it]

9) Give it up – King Creosote

I imagine this version won’t be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but it fits my description of a good cover, different in vocal delivery than Mark Hollis and the waltz like time makes it interesting for me.

[Kenny Anderson, known primarily by his stage name King Creosote, is an independent singer-songwriter from Fife, Scotland. To date, Anderson has released over forty albums, with his latest, Thrawn, released in 2011]

[track six on the Colour of Spring – the 3rd Talk Talk album]

my Give it up 12 inch vinyl cover

10) LIVING IN ANOTHER WORLD - Lights (ft. Darkstars)

This is a melodic cover version – remixed by Darkstars) which works for the female vocal by Ms Poxleitner, because of the repetitive lyric and she has the voice to carry the song forward. After a few listens this cover is growing on me.

[When electro-rock sensation Lights first hit the music scene in 2008, she was just a songwriter with a synth and a dream. Her name may have been pluralized but Lights Poxleitner was a one-woman show who played and programmed her own instruments and sang her own lyrics]

[track five on the Colour of Spring – the 3rd Talk Talk album]

11) The rainbow – Zelienople

This remains close or more faithful to Mark Hollis’s vocal and is dark…
Not as different to the Talk Talk track and less atmospheric than the earlier Thomas Feiner, Fyfe Dangerfield, Robbie Wilson version

[The band website information: The destination was Boston but they only got as far as Zelienople, Pennsylvania. Brian and Matt didn’t make it to the coast during that ill-fated trip in the Summer of ‘95 but a band was conceived during the journey. Over the years the core trio of Matt Christensen (vocals, production, formerly bass now guitar and etc.), Brian Harding (formerly guitar and keyboards now bass and reeds) and the writer (percussion, home-made instruments) have added various collaborators, the most recent being Donn Ha who has been helping us out on organ and keyboards. We’ve also splintered off on our own now and then to work on other creative ideas. Matt has released two solo albums (one under his own name and another as Western Automatic) and a collaboration with John Twells; Brian released a cassette on Plus Tapes and the writer has released a solo album on Barge Recordings last year as well as a collaboration with Scott Tuma and started a new project called Kwaidan (with former Zelienoplian Neil Jendon and Locrian’s Andre Foisy). Matt and the writer also worked with Tuma on the Good Stuff House project (now defunct?) that put out two albums in ‘06 and ‘09]

12) Myrrhman - Joan As Police Woman

I am a Joan Wasser fan, from The Ride and Forever and a year more, and was looking forward to hearing this as a full recording. It’s brooding, sparse, tremeloe-stroked guitar chords but the vocal/voice is too soft and the song is overly long!

[Opens Laughing Stock, 5th and last Talk Talk album]

My framed promotional artwork for Laughing Stock and vinyl

James Marsh and David Sands at launch party

13) Rune11 - The Last Dinosaur

I have messaged Jamie from early MySpace days because I coincidentally recorded and released a song in 2000 called The Last Dinosaur [on Spotify]. I also heard a great track on a compilation made by London DJ, Joe Egg, called The Worst Xmas…  

Anyway, I was looking forward to this cover as much as any on the CD. I heard it and liked it and was playing the CD over making notes when I noticed the track again – not because of the connection - but because it just sounded right. Jamies's sensitive vocal is complimented with the lovely viola wending its way through the song from Rachel Lanskey.


[Website:  DinosaurThe Last Dinosaur is two friends (Jamie Cameron and Luke Hayden with Rachel Lanskey on viola) who stay up very late and make beautiful music, playing all the instruments themselves and letting their imaginations run wild]

The Last Dinosaur

[last track on Laughing Stock, 5th and last Talk Talk album]

[My favourite Last Dino track is 'The Record Player live in the barn' which can be found on youtube]

? - Jack Northover

I had to rush to check my Crash Test Dummies CDs to remember the vocalist's name and then I realised that Jack wasn’t Brad Roberts. His deep, rich voice gives this little known early Talk Talk B side track a new feel.

[Jack Northover is a singer songwriter. Jack's music is known for its hand-made aesthetic and haunting melodies in the folk, blues etc]

[B side to Talk Talk - Talk Talk single and recorded live at BBC Maida Vale Studios for the David Jensen Show]

Club 229 entrance

The launch crowd

Description notes taken from Spirit of Talk Talk on Facebook
FEATURING 30 artists, including: Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode/ Recoil), White Lies, King Creosote, Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Zero 7, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Joan As Police Woman, Sean Carey (Bon Iver), Lights, Goldheart Assembly, Thomas White (Electric Soft Parade), Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots), Thomas Feiner, The Black Ships, Turin Brakes, as well as Ian Curnow, David Rhodes, Gaynor Sadler and Martin Ditcham, all of whom worked with Talk Talk.

TRACKS come from both sides of the Atlantic, and from seven countries in total, featuring some incredible collaborations.

Track listing :

01. WEALTH - Lone Wolf
03. I BELIEVE IN YOU - S.Carey
04. DUM DUM GIRL - Recoil ( feat. Shara Worden )
05. LIFE'S WHAT YOU MAKE IT - Duncan Sheik
06. THE RAINBOW - Thomas Feiner, Fyfe Dangerfield, Robbie Wilson
07. AFTER THE FLOOD - Halloween, Alaska
08. IT'S GETTING LATE IN THE EVENING - Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Davide Rossi
09. GIVE IT UP - King Creosote
10. LIVING IN ANOTHER WORLD - Lights ( feat. Darkstars )
11. THE RAINBOW - Zelienople
12. MYRRHMAN - Joan As Police Woman
13. RUNEII - The Last Dinosaur
14. ? - Jack Northover

CD 2:

01. IT'S MY LIFE - The TenFiveSixty
02. INHERITANCE - Recoil ( feat. Linton Kwesi Johnson & Paul Marshall ) 03. ASCENSION DAY - Turin Brakes
04. TODAY - White Belt Yellow Tag
05. I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOU - Ian Curnow ( feat. Human )
06. CHAMELEON DAY - Goldheart Assembly
07. APRIL 5TH - Matthias Vogt Trio
08. NEW GRASS - Do Make Say Think
09. TOMORROW STARTED - Jason Lytle
10. GIVE IT UP - White Lies
11. TIME IT'S TIME - Lia Ices
12. THE PARTY'S OVER - The Lovetones
13. CANDY - Thomas White
14. RENÉE - The Black Ships ( feat. Amelia Tucker )
15. TAPHEAD - The Acorn
16. I BELIEVE IN YOU - Richard Reed Parry

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