A rock-crazed ‘70s kid from the Midwest raised on a balanced diet consisting of the four basic food groups — BOC, BTO, REO and CCR, my palate was becoming somewhat unsatisfied by the end of the decade. As a result, I was craving heartier entrees — the Clash, Elvis Costello, the Police, Joe Jackson, the Ramones and Graham Parker, as well as the up-and-coming collective, Talking Heads.
Despite my public hair band persona in the mid-‘80s, I continued consuming new music from such exciting new groups as ‘Til Tuesday, Gene Loves Jezebel and 10,000 Maniacs. By that time, Talking Heads had earned the distinction as the anointed darling of the international alternative music scene. The band’s impressive string of five consecutive gold and platinum-selling albums had birthed a bounty of college radio staples, including “Psycho Killer,” “Take Me to the River,” “Life During Wartime,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Burning Down the House.” And it was 35 years ago this week (June 10, 1985), when the NYC-based brigade delivered its most successful and arguably finest set, Little Creatures, via Sire Records.
Simply put, Talking Heads wasn’t Ted Nugent. Unlike so many of my worshiped, leather-clad arena rock gods who preached merely a one-dimensional gospel of sex, drugs & rock and roll, Talking Heads tapped into various compelling cultural topics, while incorporating seemingly limitless musical influences. In short, Talking Heads sounded like the World. Possessing both XY and XX chromosomes and boasting an art school nerd persona, the band also looked like the World. Drummer Chris Frantz, keyboardist Jerry Harrison and bassist Tina Weymouth looked like they could have been my neighbors. And even when sporting his iconic over-sized white suit, frontman David Byrne was a dead ringer for the pastor at my little hometown Baptist church. But I digress.
A self-produced effort, Little Creatures has stood the test of time beautifully. In fact, for me, it’s still a perfect alternative/pop/rock record — sparkling production, world-class musicianship and smart, well-crafted songs. From the initial snare crack/“Hey” combo at the tippy of the irresistible opening track, “And She Was” to the bouncy, bass-driven, accordion-splashed “Road to Nowhere,” the nine-song collection zings from start to finish.
Bathed in beautiful brass, the lead-off single, “The Lady Don’t Mind” is just one of the record’s lively highlights, while the crisp piano work pinned to the punchy kick and snare helped make “Stay Up Late” my personal pick. Little pee pee. Little toes. Now, that AIN’T “Cat Scratch Fever,” dude.
Back in the day, I wore out an in-store cassette copy of the album while working at a Florida record shop. Later, my CD copy became one of the crown jewels of my personal music library. And I absolutely was over the moon when I recently snatched up a used copy of the album — on vinyl. Yes, 35 years later, in any configuration, Little Creatures still sounds fresh — remaining as zesty as the day it dropped.
Little Creatures Track Listing:
1. And She Was (3:36)
2. Give Me Back My Name (3:20)
3. Creatures of Love (4:12)
4. The Lady Don’t Mind (4:03)
5. Perfect World (4:26)
1. Stay Up Late (3:51)
2. Walk It Down (4:42)
3. Television Man (6:10)
4. Road to Nowhere (4:19)
Run Time: 38:38
Release Date: June 10, 1985
Record Label: Sire Records