[From the vaults: a blog for Pop ‘Til You Drop, 2011]
“Did I see tenderness where you saw hell?”
I can remember the first time I heard ‘The Colour of Spring’. It’s just one of those albums. The sun was streaming through the windows of the record shop where I worked, revealing dust motes in the air and grime everywhere. I fell pretty hard for the whole LP, but ‘Living In Another World’ took a while to grow. Maybe it’s my favourite now.
It’s a fascinatingly structured track. I love the way the chorus suddenly jumps out, unannounced – a kind of ambush. Then we get Mark Feltham’s searing post-chorus harmonica riff. Fresh momentum is achieved in the second verse via the introduction of an ace one-note anchoring bassline. By this point, Mark Hollis is sounding increasingly desperate. When he delivers the pay-off line, “God only knows what kind of tale you’d tell!” I have visions of him in the vocal booth ripping fistfuls of hair out. His post-break-up lyric seems to deal not with the sadness of heartbreak, but with the rage and mystification of it.
At 3.37 a petulantly mis-hit piano chord announces a fifteen second percussive break. I always find myself waiting tensely for those four biting snare cracks that signal the song’s resumption.
Driving the track along throughout is a feverish Hammond part by Steve Winwood. Legend has it the starstruck Talk Talk boys were so thrilled to be working with Winwood they decided furtively to note down the settings of his organ drawbars for future use in the studio. They were amused to discover he had literally pulled out all the stops…to the max. Voila: The Winwood Sound.
The extended twelve inch of ‘Living in Another World’ lacks the jolting urgency of the album version, but is a brilliant arrangement in its own right.
Thank you to my friend James for making me listen to Talk Talk, despite my hatred of their artwork.