We’ve been down the Prince rabbit hole of late, then a glance this week in the Ultravox! direction, but there are some other, bright new, shiny things out there of interest that aren’t even discs of music. I noted last month that Chris Frantz of TVLKING HEVDS and Tom Tom Club fame had written a book about his experiences with music and the life he’s built together with his spouse Tina Weymouth. I was a TVLKING HEVDS fan from the first I heard them  and that band’s first four albums were an impeccable artistic arc pretty much second to none. But the tensions that caused the band to split up after 1980 and only reform a few years later are well known to students of Rock. But I imagine that with 400 pages to unfurl in, that part of the story got plenty of airing. Especially since Tina and Chris have not been shy to unload over the years about the difficulty of dealing with David Byrne on a regular basis.
Of course, Byrne has penned his own [excellent] book about not only the history of TVLKING HEVDS, but a also a larger view of how the music industry worked. As much as Byrne’s own hand painted a picture of a gawky, difficult, young man [d’ya think?!] I’m betting that anything Chris will have to say on the subject [plenty, I’m guessing] may paint a radically different picture. Fortunately, Chris’ story will be much more than that as the book’s title made rather clear.
At the end of the day, Chris’ larger stories are his experiences with his spouse Tina Weymouth. They not only gave TVLKING HEVDS their powerful rhythms, but formed their own band, Tom Tom Club. Who couldn’t have been more different from the band they’d splintered off from. The other pull of Frantz’s book is that it also tells the complimentary story on his life together with Weymouth both on the stage and off, and that’s got to carry an emotional heft beyond fighting over songwriting credits.
From my perspective as a fan, The Great TVLKING HEVDS Schism Of 1981® left the earlier band run aground on the shoals of my indifference, while the solo efforts by Jerry Harrison, Tom Tom Club, Byrne/Eno, and even Byrne solo managed to outshine all of the music that TVLKING HEVDS managed to release after rejoining forces a few years later. I have every Jerry Harrison and Tom Tom Club album. There are mostly great songs in that canon. Okay, so Tom Tom Club stumbled on their third album. It happens. But I might be able to compile a single disc with the highlights of the last four TVLKING HEVDS albums. I don’t even own “Naked” any more and question owning “True Stories” and “Little Creatures.” I’m definitely interested in hearing what Mr. Frantz has to say about all that’s happened in the last 45 years. I caught Tom Tom Club live in 2001/2 and absolutely grooved to their happy family vibe. Better that than the dysfunctional family vibe of their other band.
Recently listened to an interview with Chris about the new book. I really want to read it… can’t they make a little pill you swallow to enable speed-reading of all the books you mean to get to?
He’s never mean, but in the interview he makes it clear that Byrne seems like someone who is blissfully unaware of the consequences of his actions and how they might affect others.
It’s a lousy analogy, but I couldn’t help think that Chris and Tina were like The Office’s Jim and Pam, dealing with Michael Scott.
Couldn’t agree more on your view of the band’s run.. the band put out four great lp’s and then things got continually interesting with Tom Tom club, Catherine wheel / my life in the bush of ghosts and harrison’s work.
bpdp3 – I myself remain nuanced about David Byrne. I’m glad I’ve never been a bandmate, but appreciate what he brought to the party. Most of his solo efforts pass through me. The dynamic between the balanced members of the band and Byrne was probably what gave them their frissons, early on. I must ask my spouse to get this book for me through the interlibrary loan she oversees.
FWIW I enjoyed the HECK out of True Stories and its soundtrack, perhaps in part due to having some different singers (no slam on Byrne, he can tell interesting stories) but also I thought they were pretty solid tunes.
While I certainly agree that the side projects post Remain in Light were mostly very worthy (and brain-bendingly different from one another), I enjoyed the two live albums (especially Stop Making Sense, but that’s because there was a movie to accompany it and I actually finally saw them on that tour). I would argue that Speaking in Tongues was a solid return to their origins, and while Little Creatures has some less-memorable content, it also has some much-loved favourites, especially “Road to Nowhere” and “And She Was.”
As for Naked, I still say there’s some good stuff on there (and guest artists Kirsty MacColl and Johnny Marr helping out), but it’s mostly leftovers served with a side of uninspired, and the first of their albums I was truly disappointed by.
If you’d like a signed copy, you can order one from Rough Trade in the UK, or Premier Collectibles in the US.