A rare thing, a ‘full reimagining’ of a classic album that does not have me reaching desperately for the original. This is superb!
Talking Heads original album was massively influenced by the music of Fela Kuti and Kidjo has taken the music back to its roots and created a fresh and powerful album based on the heavy afrobeat rhythms of her home in Benin. Every track has a new spirit and freshness to it but there is still enough of David Byrne’s vision to understand where the original got its reputation.
This release follows the same track listing as the original album but doesn’t include any of the bonus tracks that were on the remastered CD issue of the Talking Heads album.
One of the first things that strikes you is that Kidjo has a much stronger and more assertive vocal than David Byrne. On a track such as ‘Crosseyed & Painless’ this translates into an instructive lyric rather than an observation and the difference fits the more expansive horn and beats of the reimagined version.
‘Once In A Lifetime’ takes on a new persona, while sticking close to the original. The beats are sharper and the sense of ‘strangeness’ in the original is less overt but the vocals do lose some of the wonder of the original.
Very sharp production, exquisite horns and bass lines and the afrobeat rhythms really bring something new out of a classic album. For once a worthy re-reading of a classic.