I've been a big fan of the band Talk Talk on and off now for (here's the scary bit) almost 30 years. They were unlike any other band when I was growing up - they had an experimental edge that cut straight through the pink plastic and neon green socks of the 1980s. And they had the odd pop hit too, which kept them firmly on the radar of the John Hughes generation. It started for me when I first heard the (now iconic) piano riff of "Life's what you make it" in 1986. The lyrics kicked in and a tingle ran down my spine in the way that only 12 year olds discovering their music taste can get.
I still get a buzz from those lyrics today. When I'm feeling down they inspire me and when I'm feeling good they make me feel great. Surely that's the pure essence of song writing yes?
Earlier this year several groups including Turin Brakes, White Lies and Zero 7 collaborated on a tribute album entitled "Spirit of Talk Talk", a play on "Spirit of Eden" their highly acclaimed penultimate album (and my personal favourite). I was overjoyed when I heard about this, but at the same time a little scared as I always am when I hear of cover albums. It was unjustified. The album is really great and it gave birth to this cover version, which in my opinion is the best cover I've ever heard of this song...(requires spotify)
So what makes Talk Talk really stand out? They're just another random 80s pop band right?
I first heard "Spirit of Eden" in a smokey student flat in the mid 90s, dropped in somewhere between Dark Side of the Moon and Portishead's Dummy. And boy did it stand out. It's rock, it's jazz, it's psychedelic ambient. Vocals slip in and out of it like ghostly echos. It's an absolute masterpiece of modern experimentation.
And the story behind its creation just adds to the positively captivating aura of the album. Graeme Thomson's article in The Guardian "Talk Talk: The band who disappeared from view" describes it like this:
Some albums are good. Some albums are great. Some albums are a perfect capturing of emotion at a very specific moment in time. Spirit of Eden will always be one of those in my mind.