Review: Charles Shaar Murray, NME Oct 1981

What are words for, anyway? One could never feel quite the same about Talking Heads after learning that Tina Weymouth – founder- member bassist of that strikingly original and highly individual little ensemble – was required by tall, bony, haunted- looking David Byrne to re-audition for her job after the band landed its first recording contract. A less sweet- natured and reasonable sort of person might well- when subjected to this extraordinarily demeaning demand- have told byrne to go and suck shit, but Weymouth kept her temper and her job, and indeed provided T.Heads with one of their most tangible assets.

Words are – in this case- for asserting that T. Weymouth does not actually need Pointy Heads in order to function as a creative person. Tom Tom Club is a framework created by Weymouth and her husband, T.Heads drummist Chris Frantz, to team up with likeminded souls and create some music. In this case the likeminded souls include Tyrone Downie (keyboards), Adrian Belew (guitar) and no less than three of Tina Weymouth’s sisters (singing).

The album opens with the long version of ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ (this person’s single of the year, thus far) and proceeds accordingly. While still undecided about the name checks bestowed on various popular musical artistes in ‘Genius Of Love’, but in absolutely no doubt about the clipped sweet stutter of the rhythm guitar, the poker-faced breathiness of the vocals and the assertive guile of the bass and drums.

Tom Tom Club music is powerful and pumping without ever degenerating into thrash, it’s intelligent and witty without becoming some cute cerebral parlour game and it combines a lot of wide open spaces with a continuous flow of ideas. Tom Tom Club (centrally Weymouth, Frantz and their co- producer Steven Stanley) make exceptionally elegant use of shifting textures over solid rhythms: change plus continuity.

Particularly Deft touches include using Adrian Belew’s effects laden guitar to play a synth part in ‘L’Elephant’, the vocal deployment in ‘Lorelei’ and the choruses of ‘On On On On’(a title derived from the dub section at the end of the song); ‘Here we come/ on and on / there are scores/ of us.’ An intelligent, innocent journey through funk and reggae, ‘Tom Tom Club’ is a fair facsimile of the knees of the bees. Despite the fact that the cover is hideous, I would be ashamed not to say that I loved it.