As fresh as it sounds, this track coulda been recorded an hour ago by some hep band of skinny-jeans ‘n slick-backs from Brooklyn. Listen again and you could be forgiven for assuming that it was spawned a decade earlier in the windswept deserts of Africa, playing out tinny AM radios anywhere between Mali and Mozambique.
The more switched-on amongst you could be forgiven for suggesting Can in one of their relatively straightforward moments; foreign chanting, infused with the groove and with nary an eye on the clock. Squint, and it could even be Happy Mondays around their first album; chiming and repetitive, a hands-in-pockets baggy-trousered circular mooch around the scuzziest parts of town. Slow down the little counter riff that plays between the chanted lines and it’s almost the later-era Loose Fit.
Truth is, it was recorded in 1979 by Talking Heads and featured on their 3rd LP, ‘Fear Of Music‘.
Talking Heads – I Zimbra (LP Version)
It’s African in origin – a twin guitar attack – one playing the incessant, loping guitar riff that rises and falls with the tide of the song, the other playing a demented desert blues somewhere beyond the 12th fret, both fighting for ear space with poly-rhythmic Afro beats pinned down by the muscle of Tina Weymouth’s solid ‘n steady bass.
It’s snake-like, enhanced somehow, someway, by sonic architect Brian Eno. He’s credited with adding guitar to the stew, but I doubt we’ll ever really know for sure. Done in the days before his oblique strategies, perhaps he told himself to play more orange, or something like that. Either way, the combination of musicians, producers, instruments and ambience created one groovy mover.
The extended 12″ version is even better…
Talking Heads – I Zimbra (12″ Version)
Gadji beri bimba clandridi
Lauli lonni cadori gadjam
A bim beri glassala glandride
E glassala tuffm I zimbra!
A couple of things….
- On the LP credits for I Zimbra, the conga player is Gene Wilder, Surely not the wild-eyed actor of the same name? Anyone know?
- Drumming ‘Head Chris Frantz once agreed to do a ‘Six Of The Best‘. I must chase him up…
7 thoughts on “Head Music”
It’s not that Gene Wilder. If I remember correctly, the congas were played by a couple of dudes they encountered playing percussion in a park near the recording studio. Too tipsy to find references for you now, but I’m pretty sure that was the story.
Fantastic track by a band who have many many fantastic tracks
The rest of the album isn’t too shabby either
Spot on. Early Talking Heads is where it’s at.
They did come up with some good records
Another astoundingly good piece, bud. I am in complete awe. Re Talking Heads, I still miss them. Nothing ever quite like them before or since.
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