began as an early-1980s synth-pop band in the style of Duran Duran. It didn't take long for the group's aesthetic ambitions to come to the fore, though. By the mid-'80s, their music was full of jazz-tinged ambience and extended instrumental sections, pioneering a new, adventurous brand of art-rock. After Talk Talk's breakup, frontman Mark Hollis continued in an even less mainstream vein with some subtly inventive solo work, while bassist Paul Webb and drummer Lee Harris formed O Rang and went on to record with Portishead's Beth Gibbons.
Talk Talk were a popular British music group that were active from 1981 to 1991. In mainstream circles, the group is most well known for their early synthpop/New Wave singles, including the international hits "Today", "Talk Talk", "It's My Life" & "Life's What You Make It". Responsible of an array of sounds from punk to synthpop and post rock, Talk Talk were just ground breaking in every genre.
However, in the music community they are recognised more for the artistic achievements of their later experimental albums, recognised as forerunners to the post-rock genre.
With the exception of a handful of common threads -- chief among them the plaintive vocals and haunting lyrics of frontman Mark Hollis -- there is little to suggest that the five studio LPs which make up the Talk Talk oeuvre are indeed the work of the same band throughout. After beginning their career with records which virtually epitomize the new wave era which spawned them, the British group never looked back, making significant strides with each successive album on its way to discovering a wholly unique and uncategorizable sound informed by elements of jazz, classical, and ambient music; their masterful final recordings, while neglected commercially, possess a timelessness rare among music of any genre, and in retrospect they seem the clear starting point for the post-rock movement of the 1990s.
The story of Talk Talk begins with singer/songwriter Hollis, the younger brother of Ed Hollis, a disc jockey and producer who went on to manage such punk-era bands as Eddie & the Hot Rods. Mark originally planned to become a child psychologist, but in 1975, he left university to relocate to London, eventually forming a band called the Reaction; Ed Hollis called in a few favors, and in 1977, the Reaction recorded a demo tape for Island Records. Among the tracks was a Hollis original titled "Talk Talk," which later surfaced on the Beggars Banquet punk compilation Streets. After just one single, 1978's "I Can't Resist," the Reaction disbanded, and through his brother, Hollis was first introduced to bassist Paul Webb, drummer Lee Harris, and keyboardist Simon Brenner, with whom he formed Talk Talk in 1981
Talk Talk began as a quartet consisting of Mark Hollis (vocals), Simon Brenner (keyboards), Lee Harris (drums) and Paul Webb (bass). They were generally associated with the New Wave movement, and bands such as EMI stable-mates Duran Duran. This line-up released a self-titled debut EP in 1982 which was quickly expanded into a full-length album entitled The Party's Over. The band charted in the UK with the singles "Talk Talk" and "Today", both produced by Colin Thurston (who had also produced hits for Duran Duran and Howard Jones). "Talk Talk", the 7" single reached number 1 in South Africa and spent 4 weeks at the top and became the tenth biggest selling single of 1983.
Brenner left after the 1983 non-LP single "My Foolish Friend", which was produced by frequent Roxy Music collaborator Rhett Davies. At this point, the band added unofficial fourth member Tim Friese-Greene, who became Talk Talk's keyboard player, producer, and Hollis' frequent writing partner. Although a major contributor to the band's studio output, Friese-Greene did not generally play with the band during live shows or appear in publicity material. Talk Talk stopped playing live in 1986.
Talk Talk had a huge success in 1984/85 in continental Europe with the album It's My Life. The accompanying single "Such a Shame" (a song inspired by the book The Dice Man) became a major hit and a number one in several countries during this period, and an icon for many New Wave European listeners. The aforementioned title cut was also a big hit. This album and its singles were relatively ignored in their native UK, even though they maintained a substantial cult following.
They eventually abandoned the New Wave style completely with the minor classic The Colour of Spring in 1986. This became their biggest studio album success in the UK, partly thanks to the Top 20 single "Life's What You Make It", and was again a hit album in Europe, featuring another Top 40 single: "Living in Another World". By this time, all Talk Talk songs were being written by Hollis and Friese-Greene. Guests on the album included Steve Winwood.