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14Jul

Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and Tina by Chris Frantz review

The trouble with David Byrne ... A revealing inside account of the highs and lows of a band who looked and sounded like nobody else

A winter afternoon, Providence, Rhode Island, 1973. Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz are art students and madly in love. They’re working on their paintings when they’re interrupted by Chris’s new bandmate, an awkward dropout with homemade trousers and home-cut hair by the name of David Byrne. He wants help with a song, and so Tina offers to write a section in French, tossing in as an afterthought the shouted line: “I hate people when they’re not polite”. Chris chips in with lyrics too, and by the end of the afternoon they have come up with “Psycho Killer”, the first defining masterpiece of one of the greatest rock bands of all time – though at the time they are still labouring under the hapless name of the Artistics.

Within a year, all three were living in an unregenerated loft on Chrystie Street, in the wilds of the Lower East Side (1,700sq ft on the ninth floor, with views of the Empire State Building – yours for a cool $289 a month). Weymouth’s car battery was regularly stolen and there was no heat in the building after 5pm, but the neighbourhood was a Who’s Who of the avant garde. Ornette Coleman, Lauren Hutton, William Burroughs, John Giorno and Robert Mapplethorpe all lived on the Bowery, while the painter Robert Rauschenberg owned a former orphanage around the corner. Best of all, there were bands everywhere, from the Ramones to Angel and the Snake, fronted by a local beauty called Debbie Harry.

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