More Songs About Buildings and Food

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More Songs About Buildings and Food
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 14, 1978 (1978-07-14)[1]
RecordedMarch–April 1978
StudioCompass Point Studios, Nassau
Talking Heads chronology
Talking Heads: 77
More Songs About Buildings and Food
Fear of Music
Song sample
30 seconds of "The Big Country"

More Songs About Buildings and Food is the second studio album by American rock band Talking Heads, released on July 14, 1978 by Sire Records. It was the first of three albums produced by collaborator Brian Eno, and saw the band move toward a danceable style, crossing singer David Byrne's unusual delivery with new emphasis on the rhythm section composed of bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz.

More Songs established the Talking Heads as a critical success, reaching number 29 on the US Billboard Pop Albums chart and number 21 on the UK Albums Chart. The album featured the band's first top-thirty single, a cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River".

Artwork and title[edit]

The front cover of the album, conceived by Byrne and executed by artist Jimmy De Sana, is a photomosaic of the band comprising 529 close-up Polaroid photographs.[6] The rear cover of the album shows a satellite image (taken by one of the Landsat satellites) of the United States.[nb 1]

Concerning the album's title, bassist Tina Weymouth was quoted in a 1979 interview with Creem magazine:

When we were making this album I remembered this stupid discussion we had about titles for the last album," Tina smirked. "At that time I said, 'What are we gonna call an album that's just about buildings and food?' And Chris said, 'You call it more songs about buildings and food.'[7]

XTC frontman Andy Partridge later claimed, however, that he gave the title to Byrne.[8]


More Songs About Buildings and Food was released on July 21, 1978.[6] It peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. The album's sole single, a cover of the Al Green hit "Take Me to the River", peaked at number 26 on the pop singles chart in 1979. The single pushed the album to gold record status.[9]

The album was ranked at No. 4 among the top "Albums of the Year" for 1978 by NME, with "Take Me to the River" ranked at No. 16 among the year's top tracks.[10] In 2003, the album was ranked number 382 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and 384 in 2012.[11] It was ranked the 45th best album of the 1970s by Pitchfork Media in 2006. It was ranked number 57 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the greatest albums of 1967–1987.

Warner Music Group re-released and remastered the album in 2005, on its Warner Bros., Sire and Rhino Records labels in DualDisc format, with four bonus tracks on the CD side—"Stay Hungry" (1977 version), alternate versions of "I'm Not in Love" and "The Big Country", and the 'Country Angel' version of "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel". The DVD-Audio side includes both stereo and 5.1 surround high resolution (96 kHz/24bit) mixes, as well as a Dolby Digital version and videos of the band performing "Found a Job" and "Warning Sign". In Europe, it was released as a CD+DVDA two-disc set rather than a single DualDisc. The reissue was produced by Andy Zax with Talking Heads.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[12]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[13]
Christgau's Record GuideA[14]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[15]
The Irish Times5/5 stars[16]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[18]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[19]
Uncut5/5 stars[20]

Writing for Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), critic Robert Christgau said:

Here the Heads become a quintet in an ideal producer-artist collaboration—Eno contributes/interferes just enough. Not only does his synthesized lyricism provide flow and continuity, it also makes the passive, unpretentious technological mysticism he shares with the band real in the aural world. In fact, there is so much beautiful music (and so much funky music) on this album that I'll take no more complaints about David Byrne's voice. Every one of these eleven songs is a positive pleasure, and on every one the tension between Byrne's compulsive flights and the sinuous rock bottom of the music is the focus.[14]

Reviewing the album for Pitchfork's "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s", Nick Sylvester said:

More Songs About Buildings and Food transformed the Talking Heads from a quirky CBGB spectacle to a quirky near-unanimously regarded "it" band. New producer Brian Eno can take his due credit for the album's success, smartly tightening up the rhythm section's energy for more dance-oriented beats and a more prominent role in general, though without taking the limelight off head Head David Byrne's nervous sputters. Byrne's own songwriting was, as the album titled suggested, in the same quotidian vein as '77, though perhaps Buildings and Food has slightly more vitriol, especially on album closer, "The Big Country", Byrne's indictment of the South. More Songs About Buildings and Food probably could have survived as a cult album by a cult band, but what really opened up the Talking Heads for a national audience was the band's slinky cover of Al Green's famous "Take Me to the River", which put them on the top 30 singles charts for the first time.[21]

Reviewing the album for Rolling Stone magazine, Ken Emerson said:

Love and work, of course, is what Freud said all of us need, but on More Songs about Buildings and Food, Byrne appears able to imagine the proper equilibrium only in "Found a Job," wherein a bickering couple's relationship improves while collaborating on television scripts. He sings about this improvement with considerable sarcasm, though, and elsewhere on the LP, love and logic are at loggerheads.[22]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by David Byrne, except where noted.

Side one
1."Thank You for Sending Me an Angel" 2:11
2."With Our Love" 3:30
3."The Good Thing" 3:03
4."Warning Sign"Byrne, Chris Frantz3:55
5."The Girls Want to Be with the Girls" 2:37
6."Found a Job[a]" 5:00
Side two
1."Artists Only"Byrne, Wayne Zieve3:34
2."I'm Not in Love" 4:33
3."Stay Hungry"Byrne, Frantz2:39
4."Take Me to the River"Al Green, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges5:00
5."The Big Country" 5:30
2005 reissue bonus tracks
12."Stay Hungry" (1977 version)Byrne, Frantz3:45
13."I'm Not in Love" (alternate version) 5:15
14."The Big Country" (alternate version) 5:01
15."Thank You for Sending Me an Angel" ("Country Angel" version) 2:12



Harrison and Byrne (right) with Talking Heads in August 1978 at Jay's Longhorn Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Talking Heads

Additional musicians

  • Brian Eno – synthesizers, piano, guitar, percussion, backing vocals
  • Tina and the Typing Pool – backing vocals on "The Good Thing"




Year Chart Position
1978 Billboard Pop Albums chart 29[24]
UK Albums 21


Year Single Chart Position
1978 "Take Me to the River" Billboard Pop Singles 26

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[25] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[27] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "The back cover is a reproduction of "Portrait U.S.A.", the first color photomosaic of the United States. It is made up of 569 photos taken from space by the LandSAT satellite. Each photo in the mosaic is made up of four separate photos of different parts of the light spectrum: Green, Red, and two different Infra-red regions. These light regions were chosen because they help bring out the differences in geographical forms and types of vegetation. Each image is made up of many scan lines, much like a T.V. picture ... analog information is converted to digital information and then transmitted to various ground receiving stations. This information is then converted into a black-and-white picture corresponding to each spectral region. These can then be combined to make the color pictures that are used in this mosaic. In the version reproduced on the cover, the information from the green spectral region is printed as yellow, the red region is printed as magenta, and the infra-red region is printed as cyan. This is called a false color image. In this version vegetation appears as turquoise, rocks and soil appear as red, yellow, brown, and towns, roads, and water appear as black. Objects as small as 33 feet are visible on the LandSAT photos if the object is in contrast to its environment. The practical applications of the LandSAT photos are many, some of which are forest-fire damage, regional planning, assessment of land use: Which crops are being grown where, mapping of ice for shipping, mapping and detection of air and water pollution, and monitoring surface mining.
    "Portrait U.S.A." is copyrighted by the General Electric Co., 1976. It was produced by their Beltsville Photo Engineering Lab with the assistance of the National Geographic Society and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration".[Record inner sleeve]


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads". AllMusic. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  2. ^ Smith, Chris (2006). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: From arenas to the underground, 1974-1980. Greenwood Press. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-313-33611-9.
  3. ^ Gittins, Ian (September 1, 2004). Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime, The Stories Behind Every Song. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 39. ISBN 0-634-08033-4. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  4. ^ Grimstad, Paul. "What is Avant-Pop?". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2005). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin. p. 163.
  6. ^ a b Gimarc, George, Punk Diary, p. 148.
  7. ^ Barbara Charone (October, 1979). "More Songs About Typing and Vacuuming". Creem, n.p.c. link. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  8. ^ "XTC on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  9. ^ William Ruhlmann. "More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads – Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  11. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads". AllMusic. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  13. ^ Kot, Greg (May 6, 1990). "Talking Heads On The Record". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X.
  15. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  16. ^ Courtney, Kevin (January 13, 2006). "Talking Heads: 77/More Songs About Buildings and Food/Fear of Music/Remain in Light". The Irish Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Emerson, Ken. "Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings And Food". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 29, 2001. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Talking Heads". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 802–03. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  19. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. p. 394. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  20. ^ Shapiro, Peter (February 2006). "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth". Uncut (105): 82.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ Discogs – Benjamin Armbrister – profile and discography
  24. ^ "Talking Heads Chart History: Billboard 200". 2019. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019.
  25. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  26. ^ "British album certifications – Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type More Songs About Buildings and Food in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  27. ^ "American album certifications – Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.