More Songs About Buildings and Food is the second studio album by the American rock band Talking Heads, released in July 1978. The album was the first of three Talking Heads LPs produced by collaborator Brian Eno, and saw the group move musically toward a danceable style, crossing singer David Byrne's unusual delivery with new emphasis on the rhythm section made up of bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz.
The album established the group as a critical success, reaching 29 in the US Billboard Pop Albums chart and 21 in the UK Albums Chart. The album featured the group's first Top 30 single, a cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River."
More Songs About Buildings and Food was released on July 21, 1978. It peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. The album's one 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.
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. In 2003 the album was ranked number 382 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2006 it was ranked the 45th best album of the 1970s by Pitchfork Media. It was ranked number 57 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the greatest albums of 1967–1987.
In 2005 it was re-released and remastered by Warner Music Group on their 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.
Writing for AllMusic, William Ruhlmann said:
If the band's sound seems more conventional, the reason simply may be that one had encountered the odd song structures, staccato rhythms, strained vocals, and impressionistic lyrics once before. Another was that new co-producer Brian Eno brought a musical unity that tied the album together, especially in terms of the rhythm section, the sequencing, the pacing, and the mixing. Where Talking Heads had largely been about David Byrne's voice and words, Eno moved the emphasis to the bass-and-drums team of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz; all the songs were danceable, and there were only short breaks between them.
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.
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.
The rear cover of the album shows a satellite image (taken by one of the Landsat satellites) of the United States.
Concerning the album's title, bassist Tina Weymouth was quoted in an 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.'
XTC frontman Andy Partridge claimed in a tweet, however, that he gave the title to Byrne.
All tracks written by David Byrne, except where noted.Note
^[a] - Mixed at Media Sound Recording Studios by Brian Eno and Ed Stasium
Talking HeadsDavid Byrne – lead vocals, guitars, synthesized percussion
Chris Frantz – drums, percussion
Jerry Harrison – piano, organ, synthesizer, guitar, backing vocals
Tina Weymouth – bass guitar, backing vocals
Additional musiciansBrian Eno – synthesizers, piano, guitar, percussion, background singing
Tina and the Typing Pool – backing vocals on "The Good Thing"
ProductionBenji Armbrister – assistant engineer
Rhett Davies – engineer, mixing
Joe Gastwirt – mastering
Ed Stasium – mixing on "Found a Job"
SinglesToadies covered the song "I'm Not in Love", which appears on the soundtrack to the 1996 film Basquiat.
Local Natives covered the song "Warning Sign" on their debut album, Gorilla Manor.
Electric Six covered the song "Girls Want to Be with the Girls" on their cover-album Mimicry and Memories (2015).