The Talking Heads helped change the face of music throughout the 70s and 80s. -Courtesy of Flickr user NASTY NAST

Bob Dylan and The Beatles will always have a great influence on music, but to be frank, they get a little boring. They also aren’t the only ones to bring change to the industry. For those who are looking to find a new favorite, here are three bands that changed music and my life forever.

3. The Clash (Favorite Album- “London Calling”)

In the midst of a genre trying to find its way, The Clash emerged in the late 70s and completely took over the punk rock scene. They did not start punk rock. I credit that to the bands Death and The Ramones in years prior. However, they did help bring punk to the mainstream.

The Clash took the punk genre, known for its grit and simplicity, and gave it a pop element. Blending two types of music that are total opposites might seem like it could get messy. Instead, it helped them sell millions of timeless records. “London Calling,” their first album, is widely considered the best album of the entire 1980s.

The band’s first album was essentially the catchiest political rant of all time. Songs like “Guns of Brixton” and “Jimmy Jazz” foreshadowed the riots and police brutality that would trouble London throughout the 80s. Frontman Joe Strummer had a raspy tone that was as hard hitting as it was tuneful.

From start to finish, “London Calling” is a perfect album. Some of it makes me want to rage. Other parts of it make me want to dance. All of it makes me want to scream the lyrics as loud as I can.

Next time you’re drinking some beer with a friend and don’t know what song to put on, try “London Calling” from start to finish. If you’re not hooked right away, drink faster and turn up the volume.

2. Black Sabbath (Favorite Album- “Paranoid”)

Let me start by saying yes, we all know the song “Iron Man.” Most of us know the song “Paranoid.” You can find both songs playing three times a day on the local rock radio stations. I thought I had Black Sabbath figured out until I was about 20 years old: an average rock band that had a few hits but didn’t really do it for me. I was wrong.

Black Sabbath is not only the first ever metal band, but the best ever too. The band’s overall talent is literally scary. In a world where every musician wanted to create the next Led Zeppelin, Sabbath dared to be different.

Led by frontman Ozzy Osbourne, the band was constantly trying to spread a message. The lyrics he sang were fueled by war protests and a lust for a revolution. This was no hippy revolution. The band made this clear with their dark delivery, especially in their song “War Pigs:”

“Politicians hide themselves away/ They only started the war/ Why should they go out to fight? / They leave that role for the poor.”

Backing Osbourne was one of the most original sounding guitar players of all time, Tony Iommi. His playing makes the lyrics even more ominous. One second, chaos and mayhem are raining from his guitar. It makes me want to jump out of my skin. Then I blink, and he somehow brings the song to a catchy hard rock riff that’s stuck in my head for days. It’s a sound that is completely original and changed everything.

Mix that up with some heavy drums and fat bass lines and it becomes the first metal band ever. Put on the song “Hand of Doom” at full volume until the speakers blow out.

1. Talking Heads (Favorite Albums- “Fear of Music” and “Remain In Light”)

The Talking Heads were part of the new wave genre in the 70s and 80s, but today their sound influences every branch of rock music. Frontman David Byrne pieced together a 13 member band that blended the sounds of rock, funk, punk and bopping 80s choruses.

The music is still unlike anything that’s ever been made.

Talking Heads stands out because they managed to make mainstream hits out of psychedelic sounds and feelings that some people didn’t understand. There are layers to the music, including underlying electronic melodies that come off as smooth but add so much depth to a song and hypnotizing synthesizer solos and guitar effects that take the listener for a ride.

On top of all of the talent, the band is daring. They embrace the weird and strange parts of life and help others embrace it too. Some people have Prince and others look to David Bowie. The band that made me comfortable with embracing my weirdness is the Talking Heads.

Put on the albums “Fear of Music” or “Remain In Light” and let it take you on the trip I fell in love with some time ago.

Lyrics from their song “The Great Curve” are emblematic of the band’s interesting take on life: “Sometimes the world has a load of questions/ Seems like the world knows nothing at all/ The world is near but it’s out of reach/ Some people touch it…but they can’t hold on.” 

For questions/comments about this story, email arts@thewhitonline.com or tweet @thewhitonline.

Leave a Reply