Naked (Talking Heads album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 15, 1988
Length46:56 (LP)
Talking Heads chronology
True Stories
Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites
Singles from Naked
  1. "Blind"
    Released: 1988
  2. "(Nothing But) Flowers"
    Released: 1988

Naked is the eighth and final studio album by American rock band Talking Heads, released on March 15, 1988 by Sire Records. The band dissolved shortly after the album's release, but did not announce their breakup until 1991.


Wanting to try something different after their use of regional American music and the pop song format on their previous two albums Little Creatures (1985) and True Stories (1986), Talking Heads decided to record their next album in Paris with a group of international musicians. Prior to leaving for France, the band recorded about 40 improvisational tracks that would serve as the foundation for the sessions in Paris.

In Paris, the band, along with producer Steve Lillywhite, were joined by a number of other musicians in the recording studio where they would rehearse and play for the entire day. At the end of each day, one take was selected as being the ideal version of a particular tune. "Paris is a wonderful place to work," observed drummer Chris Frantz in the liner notes of Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads. "We were really embracing world culture fully." In the interest of freedom for the musicians, it was decided that lyrics and melodies would be left until later. The lyrics were not overdubbed until the band returned to New York. Many of David Byrne's lyrics were improvisations sung along with the prerecorded tracks until he found something that he felt worked. In this way, the melodies and lyrics evolved in a similar fashion as the songs themselves.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[3]
Chicago Tribune2.5/4 stars[4]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[6]
Los Angeles Times4/4 stars[7]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[9]
Spin Alternative Record Guide6/10[10]
Uncut4/5 stars[11]

Naked was well-received by critics, who hailed it as a vast improvement over True Stories.[12] Chris Willman from the Los Angeles Times said the band abandoned "the stripped-down four-piece rock approach of late" in favor of a "far more eclectic big-band, world music extravaganza."[7] In Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis called the album "stylistically bold and intellectually provocative," a "dizzying and disturbing piece of work" that "marks a return to the more open-ended, groove-oriented style the Heads defined on Remain in Light." He noted that "the vital human harmony suggested by the international band of players .. is the strongest counterpoint to the album's pervasive themes of alienation and dread." He concluded by interpreting the view of the album's lyrics: "The human race consists of some pretty cool people ... but it's got a very destructive monkey on its back. Human survival is not guaranteed. With humor and good-hearted-ness [sic], hope and fear, Talking Heads contemplate a world on the eve of destruction on this important record — and leave wide open the question of what the dawn will bring."[8]

Naked was voted the 24th best album of 1988 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop poll of American critics nationwide. Robert Christgau, the poll's supervisor, regarded it as "an honest if less than sustaining internationalist gesture" and said "Byrne concealed the ricketiness of his current compositional practice by riding in on soukous's jetstream, but the trick didn't stick", attributing the band's diminished success to a weariness with the music business.[12] In Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990), he wrote, "where Paul Simon appropriated African musicians, David Byrne just hires them, for better and worse – this is T. Heads funk heavy on the horns, which aren't fussy or obtrusive because Byrne knew where to get fresh ones. What's African about it from an American perspective is that the words don't matter – it signifies sonically." However, he called, "(Nothing But) Flowers" a "gibe at ecology fetishism that's very reassuring".[5] Years later, he revised his stance on both Naked and True Stories, "which I once thought overrated. I was wrong. They sucked."[13]

In a retrospective review, Michael Hastings from AllMusic found Naked "alternately serious and playful", allowing Byrne to continue worrying about "the government, the environment, and the plight of the working man as it frees up the rest of the band to trade instruments and work with guest musicians. It's closest in spirit to Remain in Light – arguably too close." He further stated that "the album sounds technically perfect, but there's little of the loose, live feel the band achieved with former mentor Brian Eno. It's quite a feat to pull off a late-career album as ambitious as Naked, and the Heads do so with style and vitality." He concluded that "the album's elegiac, airtight tone betrays the sound of four musicians growing tired of the limits they've imposed on one another."[3] Stephen Thomas Erlewine said it "marked a return to their worldbeat explorations, although it sometimes suffered from Byrne's lyrical pretensions."[14]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by David Byrne, all music composed by Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth.[15]

Side one
2."Mr. Jones"4:18
3."Totally Nude"4:03
4."Ruby Dear"3:48
5."(Nothing But) Flowers"5:14
Total length:22:21
Side two
6."The Democratic Circus"5:01
7."The Facts of Life"6:25
8."Mommy Daddy You and I"3:58
9."Big Daddy"4:01
10."Cool Water"5:10
Total length:24:35 (46:56)

Cassette/CD versions[edit]

2."Mr. Jones"4:18
3."Totally Nude"4:10
4."Ruby Dear"3:48
5."(Nothing But) Flowers"5:31
6."The Democratic Circus"5:01
7."The Facts of Life"6:25
8."Mommy Daddy You and I"3:58
9."Big Daddy"5:37
11."Cool Water"5:10
Total length:52:17

2005 DualDisc reissue bonus track[edit]

12."Sax and Violins"5:51
Total length:58:08


  • Track 8, "Mommy Daddy You and I", was listed as "Mommy Daddy" on the vinyl label
  • Track 12 originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film Until the End of the World


Additional musicians[edit]


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Talking Heads 'Naked': The Band's Last Studio Album Turns 25 Years Old". HuffPost. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  2. ^ Decurtis, Anthony. "Talking Heads - Naked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b Hastings, Michael. "Naked – Talking Heads". AllMusic. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (May 6, 1990). "Talking Heads On The Record". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1990). "Talking Heads: Naked". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  7. ^ a b Willman, Chris (March 13, 1988). "A Talking Heads Extravaganza". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  8. ^ a b DeCurtis, Anthony (April 7, 1988). "Naked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Talking Heads". Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. p. 394. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  11. ^ "Talking Heads: Naked". Uncut: 109. [T]heir swan song, Naked, rekindled former glories with characteristic lyrical playfulness.
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (February 28, 1989). "Dancing on a Logjam: Singles Rool in a World Up for Grabs". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 30, 2003). "Who Needs Boxes?". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (n.d.). "Talking Heads". AllMusic. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  15. ^ Hastings, Michael. "Naked – Talking Heads". AllMusic. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  16. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 304. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  19. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  20. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  21. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  22. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  23. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  24. ^ " – Talking Heads – Naked". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  25. ^ "Talking Heads | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  26. ^ "Talking Heads Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  27. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1988". Retrieved April 13, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  28. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1988". Billboard. Retrieved April 13, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  29. ^ "British album certifications – Talking heads – Fear of music". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Fear of music in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  30. ^ "American album certifications – Talking heads – Fear of music". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.