Talking Heads - "Psychokiller"
And now an early release amongst the three. This possibly even predates punk, but Talking Heads are credited with paving the way for New Wave and certainly count as that for me. Formed in the US in 1975 their first gig was in New York as support to The Ramones in July that year.
“Psychokiller” was first performed by a previous version of the band, The Artistics and had made its way to their Talking Heads set by December 1975. It took a while longer for a recording to be released. The single from their debut and self-titled album came out two years later in December 1977.
The lyrics are quite eerie as you might expect from a song titled “Psychokiller”. There have been links made to the Son of Sam serial killings around the time the record was released. The band discounts these. David Byrne has said he was aiming for a mix of Alice Cooper and Randy Newman creating a ballad when he wrote the lyrics. Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth share the writing credits with Byrne.
The band went on to create many more great songs of varying styles but this one with its French choruses, persistent bass line and Byrne’s distinctive vocals set them, and many other bands inspired by them, on their way. It’s clearly a song they are close to as a band. It was their opening number on their final tour in 1984 and again 20 years later. They played a short set headed by the song when they reformed to play at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in New York in 2004.
They got together again in September this year, this time without playing live. They met at the Toronto Film Festival where a unique film of one of their concerts, Stop Making Sense, was celebrating its 40th Anniversary with a new 4K restored version. That film is hugely recommended as a great insight into their style and live work. Here’s a different take on Psychokiller from that film with Byrne playing solo.