Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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Remain in Light

Talking Heads


A revolutionary reimagination of the American punk movement through the lens of African music.

Talking Heads and their producer Brian Eno shared a love of African music, especially the work of Nigerian firebrand Fela Kuti, who built 15- to 20-minute songs out of repeated funk and jazz riffs. Fela was one of the strongest influences on Remain in Light, which used polyrhythms like no rock record had before. All four band members and Eno played multiple instruments on the album’s eight songs, and they also brought in percussionists, guitarist Adrian Belew, soul singer Nona Hendryx, and avant-garde trumpeter Jon Hassell.

Singer David Byrne’s interest in non-American cultures led him to new subject matter, such as on the atmospheric “Listening Wind,” which describes the stealthy actions of a bomber who targets the colonialist Americans who’ve begun living in his country. The album describes terrorism and danger (and on the last song, “The Overload,” dread as well), but the overall mood of these thick, extended jams is ebullience, in the music as well as the lyrics.