Elephant Talk

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"Elephant Talk"
Single by King Crimson
from the album Discipline
B-side Matte Kudasai
Recorded 1981
Genre Experimental rock, funk rock, New wave, post-punk
Length 4:42
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin
Producer(s) King Crimson, Rhett Davies
King Crimson singles chronology
Matte Kudasai
(1981)
Elephant Talk
(1981)
Thela Hun Ginjeet
(1981)

"Elephant Talk" is a song by the band King Crimson and was released in 1981 on the Discipline album. The song is led primarily by Tony Levin's Chapman stick, playing a Go-go-style bass line. The band plays verses, choruses and several guitar solos, the latter of which are deliberately played and processed to resemble trumpeting elephants or squeaky mice.

Adrian Belew sings five stanzas of humorous lyrics, each one beginning and ending with the phrase "Talk! It's only talk!". The other lyrics consist of yelled lexical items for verbal human communication, with each stanza containing words of a different letter (alliteration). The five stanzas progress alphabetically (the first stanza using "talk" synonyms beginning with "A", the second "B" and so on.) Belew's vocal delivery is slightly reminiscent of that of David Byrne, with whom Belew performed in the band Talking Heads.

It was released as a single in 1981. Its tracks are from the album Discipline.

Track listing[edit]

7" version[edit]

  1. "Elephant Talk" (Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin)
  2. "Matte Kudasai" (Belew, Bruford, Fripp, Levin)

12" version[edit]

  1. "Elephant Talk" (dance mix) (Belew, Bruford, Fripp, Levin)
  2. "Thela Hun Ginjeet" (Belew, Bruford, Fripp, Levin)
  3. "Matte Kudasai" (Belew, Bruford, Fripp, Levin)

Personnel[edit]

Live versions[edit]

The song, since before its initial release while the band were still called Discipline, has been a concert staple. The song's structure tends to change very little in the live setting, if at all. However, the recited lyrics, delivered by Adrian Belew, are often somewhat improvised both in order and sets of words used. Occasionally, Belew would comment on the words.

Covers[edit]

Tony Levin would often play this song whilst touring with his band where he would perform the vocals and play Chapman Stick.

In 1988 the song was sampled by hip-hop act 3-D on the album Original Styling.

External links[edit]