4. Talk Talk : 'Spirit Of Eden' (1988)

Talk Talk began in 1981 as a quartet consisting of Mark Hollis (vocals), Simon Brenner (keyboards), Lee Harris (drums) and Paul Webb (bass). They were generally associated with the New Romantic movement; more specifically, in their early years, they were often compared with Duran Duran, as both bands not only featured a double-barreled name and a Roxy Music-inspired musical direction, but also shared the same record label (EMI) and producer (Colin Thurston).

Talk Talk - a career in reverse.

In direct opposition to their commercial decline, my interest in the group increased as their more avant garde leanings came to the forefront. It was clear that Hollis in particular was never comfortable wearing the cloak of pop stardom. He became more and more introspective, reclusive and disdainful of all things commercial. We can all see, with hindsight, where his aspirations lay having now heard the later, definitive albums. Here was a man clearly very frustrated working within the confines of the format - something I appreciate myself and which led me to start my own Recoil project in order to alleviate the very same limitations.

'The Colour Of Spring' (1986) was an excellent but transitional album where one could visibly see the band mutating from well-crafted, intelligent pop into something much deeper and more thought-provoking. It reflected producer Tim Friese-Greene's more fluid and melodic keyboard arrangements with a far more expansive production.

However, the revelation that followed - 'Spirit of Eden' - was still totally unexpected. This has to be one of my all-time favourite albums. Mind-blowingly brilliant in its diversity, minimalism, atmospherics, musicianship and topped off with the voice which found it's true position floating painfully over the top (in the best possible way). Whenever I'm stumped for something to listen to, I reach for this album to restore my faith in all that is good about modern music. It encompasses so many of the things I enjoy about sound, postmodernity, sophisticated arrangements, eclectic and unusual songs. Frankly, I'm jealous that I have never been able to make a record which has the confidence to be so exposed.

'Spirit of Eden' was assembled from many hours of improvised sessions that Hollis and Friese-Greene edited and then arranged. While critically praised, the album was not as commercially viable as its predecessors and the band declared they would not tour in support of it. There was obviously little understanding of their creative need from their record company who must have panicked as the sales started to decline. Talk Talk attempted to free themselves from their recording contract with EMI and after many months of litigation, the band ultimately succeeded in extracting themselves. EMI then sued, claiming that 'Spirit of Eden' was "not commercially satisfactory". The case was thrown out of court.

Obviously relations between Talk Talk and EMI never recovered, with disillusionment and bitterness the inevitable result. However, Friese-Greene and Hollis had struck up a rapport which continued into 'Laughing Stock' - an equally impressive follow up to 'Spirit of Eden'. By this time, Webb had left the group and after 'Laughing Stock', Talk Talk disbanded anyway. In 1998, Mark Hollis released one more solo album and then promptly retired from the music industry, never to be seen again. To this day I have no idea what happened to him. I do wish he'd return.


April song
Lilac glistening foal

Ten as one
On the breeze they flow

When it gets my heart out
When it gets my heart out

Nature's son
Don't you know where life has gone
Burying progress in the clouds
How we learn to linger on
Head in sand
Expecting the dour
To redress with open arms
Ascension in incentive end

When it gets my heart out
When it gets my heart out

Nature's son
Don't you know how life goes on
Desperately befriending the crowd
To incessantly drive on
Dress in gold's surrendering gown

Heaven bless you in your calm
My gentle friend
Heaven bless you

01. Television : 'Marquee Moon' (1977)
02. Lou Reed : 'Berlin' (1973)
03. Public Image Ltd. : 'MetalBox' (1979)
04. Talk Talk : 'Spirit Of Eden' (1988)
05. Steve Reich : 'Reich: The Desert Music' (1997)
06. David Bowie : 'Aladdin Sane' (1973)
07. Radiohead : 'OK Computer' (1997)
08. Massive Attack : 'Collected' (1998)
09. Morrissey : 'You Are The Quarry' (2004)
10. Eno : 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy' (1974)
11. The Beatles : 'The White album' (1968)
12. Górecki : 'Symphony #3, Op. 36' (1992)
13. Pink Floyd : 'Meddle' (1971)