As a personal project, I decided I wanted to try and re-imagine Talking Heads album covers, just to see what I could come up with.
The first one on the list is Talking Heads: 77.
The cover for 77 was designed by David Byrne. It was just a florescent red block that said TALKING HEADS: 77 in bright green type that made your eyes bleed. I have always been curious as to why that colour for the type was picked. Was it for the visually jarring effect? It always made me uncomfortable, and I’m wondering if that was the point. I could rationalize it for days, but I’d really know what he was actually thinking when he picked it. Yellow type was used for the back, perhaps as a complement to the blue background in the photo.
For my version, I did not go with the green and yellow type, and just stuck with a red, black, and white monochrome. For the cover, I wanted to stick with the simplicity of the original.
Psycho Killer is the most significant track on the record, and it would have been very easy to bloody up the album art, turning it into a gruesome slasher poster (and I admit I did play around with that for fun). But the direction I went was a direct homage to a couple classic 1960 Psycho posters, using the crack for the cover as a nice graphic element to break up the space a bit, and pretty much an exact mock up of another for the back.
I think it all turned out pretty well.
If I ever had a chance to have an extended conversation with David Byrne, I’d ask him why the green type, and why the plaid shirt? Both baffle me.
Talking Heads - David Byrne - This Must Be The Place
Possibly the sweetest moment of the Talking Heads legacy, possibly.
I want to make a comic book version of Psycho starring Talking Heads. David Byrne as Norman Bates, Tina Weymouth as Lila Crane, Chris Frantz as Sam Loomis, Jerry Harrison as Arbogast, with a special guest appearance by Debby Harry as Marion Crane.
But that would take a long time to do.
Jay Cocks - Time Magazine, October 27, 1987
"Oh," David Byrne said, "you want to see the African fire ants?" It was deep night out on a Texas plain flat as a pan bottom and just about burned through. A recent rain had slaked the land a little but brought forth legions of ants to infest the ground and pester a nearby film set. Exterminators were summoned, ants dispatched, but one actor, arriving late, felt he had missed out on some fun.
"Follow me," said Byrne sympathetically, as he grabbed a flashlight and walked into the dark. This is a man whose first great song was called Psycho Killer. A man who is the formative force behind Talking Heads, one of the decade’s most formidable bands, a group responsible for the sweetest, strangest, funniest rock to roll over the ’70s and nestle into the ’80s. A man who should be hanging close to the set, seeing to the details of directing his first feature film, not striking out on some weird nocturnal expedition in search of hymenopterous marauders.
He may not resemble the manic murderer in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but he will never be mistaken for Mark Trail either. Is this a man to follow into the night?