Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Genius of Love" (1982)

50. Tom Tom Club, "Genius of Love" (April 10, 1982, #31)

So the husband and wife rhythm section of Talking Heads, for whatever reasons, decides to split off on its own in 1981 for a side quickie project. Something to do with David Byrne's release schedule? It's true that the albums came slower in the '80s, and the various personality conflicts began to harden into what they appear to be today, a great chill. But whatever. They did it. It was fluffy as a pancake and ultimately, with the butter and syrup, just about as filling. But that seemed hard to believe at first. In fact, arguably, this band, this album, this song—take years to fully reveal. It does seem so aimless, doesn't it ... tuneless ... childish, all together or each track on its own, including this. Until the moment when it kicks in, and then you belong to it forever. This is the one that did something extra special right, got peeled off as a single (hey, why not?), and somehow found its way to the top 40. Lord God there is justice in this world. I guess I must be a fan because half the pleasure for me is just that they did it at all and the other half keeps uncoiling still. Longer versions better versions—there are many versions, you know that. It's so almost nothing at all, just tripping on its rhythms and sounds and bouncy beats, until like cotton candy forming on a cone the little grainy wisps repetitively begin to cling and wrap around our heads, fluffy and pretty and sweet, and we just want to hear it again. And what's the hook to all this, the secret ingredient around which it all binds? Chant with me now: "James Brown. James Brown. James Brown. James Brown." Next thing you know Afrika Bambaataa might take a notion too.

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