Prior to this, Byrne has released a string of four great solo albums between 1989 and 1997, culminating with Feelings, the best of them. That period also found me in my late teens and early 20s, a prime musical discovery zone.
Byrne had always explored Afro/Caribbean sounds with Talking Heads (Naked being a great example) but he doubled down on the concept on this album. Every Rei Momo track features a different musical style, which is noted in the track list: cumbia, orisa, salsa, merengue, bomba, rumba, all that good stuff. Today’s SOTD is an example of ‘cha cha cha.’
Apart from Adele, nobody has the four-quadrant appeal of Taylor Swift. She parlayed country stardom into pop superstardom and is now pretty a much a genre unto herself. David Byrne is an indie rock, New Wave and world music pioneer who has influenced scores of modern musicians. Note: For the purposes of this face-off, we are considering only Byrne’s solo work, and not Talking Heads.
Hmm, what are the odds? Eight days after the Random iTunes Fairy served up a track from David Byrne’s 1992 album Uh-Oh, she came right back to the same album.
‘Now I’m Your Mom’ is an odd song, either poking fun at or celebrating the transgender community. I think the lyrics lean toward a supportive stance but the falsetto reading of the title line feels like schoolyard taunting.
Twenty-five years ago, I listened to a shit ton of David Byrne and Talking Heads. The 1992 album, Uh-Oh, on which today’s Random SOTD appears, was in constant rotation. But I’ve probably listened to in only once or twice in the two-plus decades since.
It’s been ten years since David Byrne put out what I would consider a real David Byrne album. That was 2004’s Grown Backwards, which went off on a few tangents but was mostly the sort of tight, quirky, literate world pop album he’d released four other times since 1989.
Those five albums — the kind of David Byrne records I adore — are (chronologically) Rei Momo, Uh-Oh, David Byrne, Feeling and the aforementioned Grown Backwards.
He has released five since (not counting several albums he released in partnership with other artists) but that initial blend of his signature art pop with Caribbean and Latin rhythm tracks hasn’t been topped.
A year before Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints, Byrne mined similar musical territory with equally strong (if less celebrated) results.