Grown Backwards

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Even by his own mercurial standards, David Byrne's latest outing is something of a head-spinner, what with the variety of styles and offbeat collaborations that pack its grooves. Byrne has often turned to realms outside rock for inspiration, and here he connects solidly with his first foray into opera dueting with Rufus Wainwright on "Au Fond du Temple Saint," culled from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers as well as a crack at avant-jazz the brassy, politically charged "Empire," which features the Carla Bley Big Band. As is his wont, Byrne digs deep into rhythmic grooves on several of Grown Backwards's 15 cuts, reaching critical mass on the herky-jerky funk-fest "Dialog Box," ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Even by his own mercurial standards, David Byrne's latest outing is something of a head-spinner, what with the variety of styles and offbeat collaborations that pack its grooves. Byrne has often turned to realms outside rock for inspiration, and here he connects solidly with his first foray into opera dueting with Rufus Wainwright on "Au Fond du Temple Saint," culled from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers as well as a crack at avant-jazz the brassy, politically charged "Empire," which features the Carla Bley Big Band. As is his wont, Byrne digs deep into rhythmic grooves on several of Grown Backwards's 15 cuts, reaching critical mass on the herky-jerky funk-fest "Dialog Box," on which he casts a jaundiced eye on technological overdependence. He's not shy about using modern methods, as evidenced by the chattering loops that pop up here and there on the disc, but most of the atmospherics come from the organic accompaniment of Austin's Tosca Strings, a chamber ensemble that adds moody touches to several songs, including "Tiny Apocalypse" and "Glass, Concrete and Stone." And, like any good godfather, Byrne gives a nod to his art-pop offspring, covering Lambchop's "The Man Who Loved Beer" with warmth and wit to spare. Growth? You bet -- but not a backward-looking moment in sight.
All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
David Byrne, like fellow New York transplant David Bowie, has reached a well-deserved apex in his career. After eight post-Talking Heads solo outings, the eccentric composer, songwriter, artist, and world music entrepreneur has transcended the inconsistencies of his previous efforts and created a genuinely moving and wickedly fun record. Like Bowie's Heathen and Reality, Grown Backwards is a mature work by an icon who has come to terms with his past, present, and future, and there's a joy in the simple act of creativity here that gives even the heaviest of subject matter an effervescent charm. Opening with "Glass, Concrete, and Stone," Byrne finds the perfect middle ground between his orchestral epic The Forest and the South American-inspired Rei Momo -- in fact, it's the latter that informs many of Backwards' arrangements. Texas-based chamber group the Tosca Strings feature on nearly every track, giving the more experimental cuts a much needed fluidity, especially on the arias "Un Di Felice, Eterea," from Verdi's La Traviata, and "Au Fond du Temple Saint," a duet from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. It's no great surprise that the shape-shifting Byrne has chosen opera as his latest foray, but what is surprising is that it works. The Bizet duet in particular, featuring Rufus Wainwright, is lent an emotional resonance by the juxtaposition of the pair's wildly different vocal styles -- when they finally meet in harmony it's like two Central Park bums behind Tavern on the Green, clinking their 40-ounce bottles and weeping into a dumpster beneath a sea of summer stars. The wonderfully acerbic "Empire," with its refrain of "The weak among us perish," is Byrne at his political best, emphasizing the "play" in wordplay like a sinister Paul Simon. While by no means a protest record, it bristles with liberal wit and social commentary, especially on the Broadway-style "The Other Side of This Life," a hilarious and scathing jab at the entertainment empires and their minions. "Tiny Apocalypse" finds Byrne at his surreal best, nearly rapping the lyrics "A three-tone carpet and a Jackie Chan spear/lookin' at a hairdo and a bellyful of beer/well, I ain't no poet, ain't got no rhyme/but I got me a car and I know how to drive" over an easy Tropicalia groove. As with many of the prolific artist's releases, the record could be trimmed by five or six songs, but fans have grown accustomed to these aberrations -- which are still of higher quality that many in the industry -- and are willing to either let them go or let them grow. While by no means perfect, Grown Backwards is the colorful, multiethnic sound of a New York City enthralled with itself, and like a select few of the Big Apple's denizens, Byrne is a perfect conduit for its love.
Entertainment Weekly - Marc Weingarten
Byrne's affectless tenor is a perfect match for the delicate bob-and-weave grooves on this CD. (B+)

Byrne's affectless tenor is a perfect match for the delicate bob-and-weave grooves on this CD. (B+)
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/16/2004
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • UPC: 075597982626
  • Catalog Number: 79826
  • Sales rank: 43,096

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Glass, Concrete & Stone (4:13)
  2. 2 The Man Who Loved Beer (2:40)
  3. 3 Au Fond du Temple Saint (4:49)
  4. 4 Empire (4:12)
  5. 5 Tiny Apocalypse (4:03)
  6. 6 She Only Sleeps (2:57)
  7. 7 Dialog Box (3:31)
  8. 8 The Other Side of This Life (4:00)
  9. 9 Why (2:55)
  10. 10 Pirates (3:53)
  11. 11 Civilization (3:17)
  12. 12 Astronaut (2:55)
  13. 13 Glad (1:57)
  14. 14 Un Di Felice, Eterea (2:55)
  15. 15 Lazy (9:36)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
David Byrne Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Dobro, Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, fender rhodes, Guitar (Nylon String)
Ray Anderson Trombone
Vincent Herring Alto Saxophone
Karen Mantler Organ
John Patitucci Bass
Lew Soloff Trumpet
Bob Stewart Tuba
Steve Swallow Bass
Gary Smulyan Baritone Saxophone
Alex Foster Tenor Saxophone
Stephen Barber Prepared Piano
Jon Blondell Trombone
Georgia Boyd Viola
Patrick Dillett Background Vocals
Paul Frazier Bass
Earl Gardner Trumpet
Greg Lawson Violin
John Linnell Accordion
Phillip Myers French Horn
Keith O'Quinn Trombone
Sandra Park Violin
John Quinn Drums
Bobby Routch French Horn, Soloist
Shelley Woodworth English Horn, Oboe
Freddie Mendoza Trombone, Euphonium
Jane Scarpantoni Cello
Fiona Stephen Violin
Kenny Wollesen Drums
Elaine Barber Harp
Rufus Wainwright Vocals
Ross Godfrey Keyboards
Robert Irvine Cello
Mauro Refosco Percussion, Marimbas, Sampling
Jon Vercesi fender rhodes
Alan Ford Vacuum Cleaner
Andy Waterworth Bass
Joe Cooper Percussion
Lise Aferiat Violin
Tracy Seeger Violin
Sharon Yamada Violin
Barry Burns Synthesizer Guitar, fender rhodes
John H.R. Mills Clarinet, Flute, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Ames Asbell Viola
Sara Nelson Cello
Steve "Syco Steve" Williams Percussion, Drums, cowbell
John Spurney Keyboards
Pamelia Kurstin Theremin
David Hilliard Hi Hat
Leigh Mahoney Violin
Dawn Hannay Viola
Donald Gillian Cello
Jamie Desautels Violin
Douglas Harvey Cello
Tom Burritt Marimbas, Timpani
David Creswell Viola
Katherine Fong Violin
Mike Maddox Accordion
Una McGlone Bass
Mark Nuccio Clarinet
Alan Stepansky Cello
Jeremy Turner Cello
Soohyun Kwon Violin
Technical Credits
Georges Bizet Composer
Giuseppe Verdi Composer
David Byrne Composer, Programming, Producer, drum programming, Drawing
Carla Bley Arranger
Stephen Barber Arranger, Horn Arrangements
Greg Calbi Mastering
Patrick Dillett Producer, Engineer
Kevin Killen Engineer
Tom Mark Engineer
Peter Norris Engineer
X-Press 2 Composer
Kurt Wagner Composer
Michael Wilson Cover Photo
Tony Finno Arranger
Mauro Refosco Sound Effects
Tony Doogan Engineer
John H.R. Mills Horn Arrangements
Steve "Syco Steve" Williams Drum Triggers
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