Talking Heads, Remain In Light (1980)

The Talking Heads' first six albums are all classics, exhibiting constant growth and reconfiguration, a pretty remarkable run.  (The final two albums weren't terrible, just not in the same league).  And while I truly, truly love the debut (77), my favorite has long been 1980's Remain In Light, where David Byrne's off-kilter experimental pop merged perfectly with producer Brian Eno's visionary sonic landscaping.

As I originally owned this on cassette, I tend to listen to it as a 2-sided vinyl/cassette experience, with two distinct halves.

Side one is three longer tracks, an upbeat whirlwind of funk, world music, and dance pop.  Of these, "Crosseyed and Painless" is the standout, great rhythms and building backup vocals and even a little rap from Byrne.

Side two kicks off with "Once in a Lifetime," almost certainly the single finest Heads track, sheer perfection that hasn't aged a day in nearly 40 years.  But then the album shifts into a slower, scarier direction, seemingly dominated more by Eno's aesthetics than Byrne's.  "Houses in Motion," at least in the chorus, harkens back to side one, with some sly midtempo funk, but the verses are spooky and somber, providing a launch into the run of weirdness that closes out the album -- "Seen and Not Seen," with its spoken-word tale of deliberately altering one's facial features layered on top of burbling electronics and haunting atmospherics; the moody, midnight-drenched "Listening Wind," and finally the plodding, almost frightening "The Overload," perhaps the song most in debt to Eno's ambient music explorations (and the final word from Eno with the band, as this was his third and final production appearance with the Heads).

Throughout, the album is a complex, layered sonic marvel, equally compelling in a dark room with a pair of headphones or at high volumes through kick-ass speakers.

Here's the legendary "Once In A Lifetime" video:
...and a live "Crosseyed and Painless" (from Stop Making Sense):
 Finally, for kicks, how about "Seen and Not Seen" set to Twilight Zone clips?