Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson Anthology

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Barnes & Noble - Douglas Wolk
Twenty years ago, Laurie Anderson was the epitome of the performance-art scene, playing a bizarre handmade tape-head violin and reciting strange little poems in a calm Midwestern drawl, altered though a vocoder: "I saw a lot of trees today... and they were all made... entirely... of wood." Over time, her songs and stories have gradually approached the ideal of Talk Normal's title -- though "normal" is relative for someone whose biggest MTV hit "Language Is a Virus" was based on a William S. Burroughs quotation. This set abridges her seven albums to two smartly programmed discs. In the case of her smashing debut Big Science and its near-pop-crossover follow-up Mister ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Douglas Wolk
Twenty years ago, Laurie Anderson was the epitome of the performance-art scene, playing a bizarre handmade tape-head violin and reciting strange little poems in a calm Midwestern drawl, altered though a vocoder: "I saw a lot of trees today... and they were all made... entirely... of wood." Over time, her songs and stories have gradually approached the ideal of Talk Normal's title -- though "normal" is relative for someone whose biggest MTV hit "Language Is a Virus" was based on a William S. Burroughs quotation. This set abridges her seven albums to two smartly programmed discs. In the case of her smashing debut Big Science and its near-pop-crossover follow-up Mister Heartbreak, the track selection here is just a matter of hitting the highlights, like the unforgettable "O Superman" the strangest No. 2 U.K. hit ever and the Peter Gabriel duet "Excellent Birds." With her later albums, the point is more salvaging decent stuff that works out of context -- the five-LP set United States I-IV is condensed to seven tracks. The essay in the 50-page booklet is light on revelations -- it's based on other publications' interviews with Anderson -- but the copious performance photos of Anderson are terrific. There are no rarities or pre-Warner Bros. material here, but it's a concise survey of the career of a fine American storyteller and a great American weirdo.
All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson Anthology gathers 35 career highlights that range from Anderson's most performance art-oriented material to her poppiest moments. Leading off with "O Superman For Massenet," her unlikely 1981 hit, the first disc pares down Big Science -- itself a distillation of her four-hour piece United States -- to its starkest and most hypnotic tracks, including "From the Air," "Born, Never Asked," and the title track. "Sharkey's Day," "Excellent Birds," and "Langue D'Amour," all from the more melodic, emotional Mister Heartbreak, close out disc one, along with more pieces from United States, including "Walk the Dog," "Cartoon Song," and "Lighting Out for the Territories." Similarly, the second disc picks highlights from the Home of the Brave soundtrack -- "Smoke Rings" and "Language Is a Virus" chief among them -- and includes six tracks from her most melodic, song-structured album, Strange Angels. "Coolsville," "The Day the Devil," and the title track work especially well outside of the album's context and mix nicely with Bright Red tracks like "Speak My Language" and "In Our Sleep." The anthology closes with a sampling of The Ugly One With the Jewels' vignettes, including "The Night Flight From Houston," "The Rotowhirl," and "The End of the World." Though the anthology distills Anderson's work so much that it tends to blur the character of her individual albums, Talk Normal still presents most of the nuances in Anderson's distant yet open, ironic yet emotional style. For new listeners who want a bigger, more representative picture of Anderson's work than Big Science provides, Talk Normal is a good starting point.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/17/2000
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227664824
  • Catalog Number: 76648

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 O Superman (For Massenet) (8:24)
  2. 2 From the Air (4:33)
  3. 3 Big Science (6:24)
  4. 4 Born, Never Asked (4:59)
  5. 5 It Tango (3:05)
  6. 6 Gravity's Angel (6:06)
  7. 7 Excellent Birds (3:16)
  8. 8 Langue d'Amour (6:17)
  9. 9 Sharkey's Day (4:10)
  10. 10 Walk the Dog (6:42)
  11. 11 Cartoon Song (1:13)
  12. 12 So Happy Birthday (6:24)
  13. 13 City Song (3:37)
  14. 14 The Big Top (2:53)
  15. 15 Dr. Miller (5:20)
  16. 16 Lighting Out for the Territories (3:11)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Smoke Rings (7:07)
  2. 2 Talk Normal (5:32)
  3. 3 Language Is a Virus (4:15)
  4. 4 Credit Racket (3:34)
  5. 5 Strange Angels (3:53)
  6. 6 Babydoll (3:39)
  7. 7 Coolsville (4:35)
  8. 8 My Eyes (5:31)
  9. 9 The Dream Before (3:04)
  10. 10 The Day the Devil (4:01)
  11. 11 Speak My Language (3:42)
  12. 12 Love Among the Sailors (2:51)
  13. 13 Poison (3:45)
  14. 14 In Our Sleep (2:35)
  15. 15 Night in Baghdad (3:30)
  16. 16 The Night Flight from Houston (1:35)
  17. 17 The Rotowhirl (3:58)
  18. 18 The Ouija Board (4:13)
  19. 19 The End of the World (5:00)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Laurie Anderson Primary Artist, Percussion, Violin, Keyboards, Marimbas, Stick, Vocals, Synclavier, Hand Clapping, farfisa organ, Vocoder, oberheim, electronics
Scott Johnson Guitar
"Blue" Gene Tyranny Keyboards
Daniel Ponce Bells, Iya, Shekere
Adrian Belew Guitar
Peter Gabriel Background Vocals, Synclavier, Linn Drum
Peter Laurence Gordon Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals, Prophet Synthesizer
Bill Laswell Bass
Bobby McFerrin Vocals
Alex Foster Alto Saxophone
Chris Spedding Guica
Nile Rodgers Guitar
Darryl Tookes Choir, Chorus
Jimi Tunnell Guitar
Lisa Fischer Choir, Chorus
B.J. Nelson Choir, Chorus
Joey Baron Drums
Guy Klucevsek Accordion
Tawatha Agee Background Vocals
Robert Arron Saxophone
Joy Askew Keyboards
Manolo Badrena Percussion
Phillip Ballou Background Vocals, Choir, Chorus
Cyro Baptista Tambourine, Triangle, Surdo, Shaker
Roma Baran Bass, Harmonica, Stick, Hand Clapping, farfisa organ, Casio
Jimmy Bralower Drums
Michelle Cobbs Background Vocals
Greg Cohen Bass
Kenny Kosek Violin
Anne DeMarinis Synclavier, oberheim
Benny Diggs Background Vocals, Choir Director
Brian Eno Keyboards, Loops
Anton Fier Drums
Diane Garisto Background Vocals
Sue Hadjopoulas Percussion
Perry Hoberman Flute, Saxophone, Stick, Bottle, Hand Clapping
Kevin Jones Synclavier
Robbie Kilgore Bass, Keyboards
Brenda White-King Background Vocals
Curtis King Background Vocals
Joe Kos Vocals
Richard Landry Clarinet, Saxophone
Dave Lebolt Keyboards
Tony Levin Chapman Stick
Paulette McWilliams Choir, Chorus
Hugh McCracken Harmonica
Dollette McDonald Background Vocals
Brenda Nelson Background Vocals
Bill Obrecht Saxophone, Alto Saxophone
Janice Pendarvis Background Vocals
Lenny Pickett Tenor Saxophone
Geraldine Pontius Vocals
Robert Sabino Keyboards
Peter Scherer Bass
John Selolwane Guitar
Frank Simms Background Vocals
Mike Thorne Keyboards
David Van Tieghem Drums, Marimbas, Timpani, Roto Toms
Jamie West-Oram Guitar
Gib Wharton Pedal Steel Guitar
Diane Wilson Choir, Chorus
Gerry Leonard Guitar
Bill Buchen Percussion
Lew Del Gatto Baritone Saxophone
Chuck Fisher Saxophone
Angela Clemmons Choir, Chorus
Bakithi Kumalo Fretless Bass Guitar
T-Bone Wolk Accordion
Technical Credits
Peter Gabriel Producer
Bill Laswell Producer
Roma Baran Producer, Engineer
Hugh Brown Art Direction
Greg Cohen Music Direction
Brian Eno Producer
Ben Fenner Engineer
Joe Ferla Engineer
Alec Head Engineer
Dan Hersch Remastering
Bill Inglot Producer, Remastering
Kevin Killen Engineer
David Kumin Digital Editing
David McLees Producer
Ted Myers Annotation
Gary Peterson Annotation
Lenny Pickett Horn Arrangements
Mike Thorne Percussion Programming
Leanne Ungar Engineer
Eric Liljestrand drum programming
Rachel Gutek Art Direction
Bob Bielecki System Design
Shawn Amos Producer
Daniel Goldmark Editorial Research
Cheryl Fugate Annotation
Gillian Gaar Liner Notes
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