Sometimes I like picking up a one-hit wonder’s “best-of” CD just to see what else they did, especially if I liked the one single of theirs that got anywhere. While Natural History shows that not every Talk Talk song was worthy of heavy rotation in the airplay, it does show that the band’s one-hit wonder status is probably undeserved.
I try never to let music videos cloud my judgement of whether or not the song is good, but I must admit that least part of my fond memories of the band’s biggest single, “It’s My Life”, include the extremely cool nature-film video with its flock of ink-blot birds throughout the entire song. It ran so far against the grain of what music videos were at the time that I considered it excessively cool (and I know I’m not the only one, either). “It’s My Life” itself is an interesting song the likes of which I haven’t heard since – heavy on synths, but also heavy enough on musicianship and great vocals that it still sounds like an organic whole, not a machine-assembled song.
Other standouts include “Such A Shame”, which has a style similar to “It’s My Life” (or perhaps that should be the other way around, since “Shame” predates it by a year or two), and one of my personal favorites, Life’s What You Make It. Though from the same album as “It’s My Life”, “Life’s What You Make It” has a soulful sound the straddles the styles of Talk Talk and Squeeze, with some excellent Hammond organ work and some great lyrics to go with it.
There are a couple of live tracks, nice ones to be sure, but Talk Talk was at the height of its powers in the studio, not on stage, and butting live cuts up against studio tracks only heightens that contrast.
If Natural History tells us anything, it is that we may have underestimated Talk Talk when the radio industry in general seemed to shrug them off as one-hit wonders.
- Today (3:30)
- Talk Talk (3:15)
- My Foolish Friend (3:18)
- Such A Shame (5:22)
- Dum Dum Girl (4:02)
- It’s My Life (3:51)
- Give It Up (5:19)
- Living In Another World (7:00)
- Life’s What You Make It (4:25)
- Happiness Is Easy (6:29)
- I Believe In You (5:55)
- Desire (6:56)
- Life’s What You Make It – live (4:40)
- Tomorrow’s Started – live (7:45)
Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1990
Total running time: 71:47