With the return of the punks in the mid-'90s came a resurgence of their slightly more commercial rivals, new wave bands. No Doubt found a niche as a new wave/ska band, on the strength of vocalist Gwen Stefani's persona -- alternately an embrace of little-girl-lost innocence and riot grrrl feminism -- exemplified on the band's breakout single, "Just a Girl."
Formed in early 1987 as a ska band inspired by Madness, the lineup of No Doubt initially comprised John Spence, Gwen Stefani, and her brother Eric. While playing the party-band circuit around Anaheim, the trio picked up bassist Tony Kanal, born in India but raised in Great Britain and the U.S. Hardened by the suicide of Spence in December 1987, No Doubt nevertheless continued; Gwen became the lone vocalist and the group added guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young.
No Doubt's live act began to attract regional interest, and Interscope Records signed them in 1991. The band's debut a year later, an odd fusion of '80s pop and ska, sank without a trace in the wake of the grunge movement. As a result, Interscope refused to support No Doubt's tour or further recordings. The band responded by recording on their own during 1993-1994; the result was the self-released Beacon Street Collection, much rawer and more punk-inspired than the debut. Eric Stefani left just after its release, later working as an animator for The Simpsons.
By late 1994, Interscope allowed recordings to resume, and Tragic Kingdom was released in October 1995. The album served as a document of the breakup of Gwen Stefani and Kanal, whose relationship had lasted seven years. Thanks to constant touring and the appearance of "Just a Girl" and "Spiderwebs" on MTV's Buzz Bin, the album hit the Top Ten in 1996. Stefani, who has made no secret of her pop ambitions, became a centerpiece of attention as an alternative to the crop of tough girls prevalent on the charts. By the end of the year, Tragic Kingdom hit number one on the album charts, almost a year after its first release; the record's third single, the ballad "Don't Speak," was the band's biggest hit to date.
No Doubt's much-anticipated follow-up, The Return of Saturn, was released in the spring of 2000, and "Simple Kind of Life" and "Ex-Girlfriend" were both critically successful at the mainstream and college levels. A year later, Stefani also hooked up with rap chanteuse Eve for the single "Let Me Blow Your Mind" (it went on to earn a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2002); however, Stefani also joined her band for the release of their fifth album. The ska revival and new wave sounds of Rock Steady were issued hot on the heels of debut single "Hey Baby" in December 2001.
~ John Bush, All Music Guide
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Jerry Harrison (Jeremiah Griffin Harrison) was born in Milwaukee in 1949. He was one of the original members of The Modern Lovers and was both guitarist and keyboardist for the new wave group Talking Heads formed in 1974.
While Harrison was an architectural student at Harvard University, he worked with Jonathan Richman in The Modern Lovers. He was introduced to Richman by his friend and journalist Danny Fields. Joining in the beginning of 1971 and recording their first album in 1972 but the album was released only in 1976. He left in 1974, gave up architecture and joined Talking Heads.
Solo albums of Harrison include ‘The Red and the Black’ (1981), ‘Casual Gods' (1987) and ‘Walk on Water' (1990). His string of singles includes ‘Five Minutes’ (1984), ‘Rev it Up’ (1988) and ‘Flying Under Radar’ (1990). Talking Heads disbanded in 1991 and as a result Harrison moved onto producing and worked with numerous artists including The Von Bondies, General Public, Violent Femmes, No Doubt, Crash Test Dummies, Of A Revolution and Black 47. Recently he worked with The Black and White Years, Bamboo Shoots and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Group formed in New York City in 1974; original lineup included David Byrne (vocals and guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass), and Jerry Harrison (keyboards and guitar); Byrne and Harrison have also appeared and recorded as solo artists since 1981; Frantz and Weymouth additionally formed, appeared, and recorded with group Tom Tom Club, 1981—.
Addresses: Office—c/o Sire Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank CA 91510. David Byrne—Indey Music, c/o Overland, 1775 Broadway, New York NY 10019.
The movie "True Stories" was released in 1986. It was directed, scored, and partially scripted by Byrne with music performed by Talking Heads and a variety of ethnic groups. Time called "True Stories" the "most joyous and inventive rock movie-musical since the Beatles scrambled through Help." By this time, the group had come full circle. They had started out with a message that disparaged a culture driven by television and the mediocrity of news weeklies; then, ten years later, they were celebrating the ordinariness and banality of the American way.
"True Stories" takes place in an imaginary town populated by characters whose stories are drawn from tabloid headlines. Stereo Review carried this description: "In the film Byrne narrates slices of the lives of peculiar Texas townsfolk with names like Lying Woman and Computer Guy. They wear tacky outfits and tacky hairstyles and live in a tacky but friendly environment, a panorama of shopping malls and other consumer monuments separated by vast empty landscapes."
The soundtrack album features the original Talking Heads quartet playing pop songs based on a range of American music styles. New Republic observed that "instead of synthesizing Western and non-Western elements, the band moved in wholesale appropriations of American popular music . . . " and that "Byrne's voice had been purged of its trademark anxiety; instead of his controlled hysteria, he was actually crooning his lyrics." But Talking Heads refused to stand still or limit the direction or their music. By 1988 they had been to Paris and recorded Naked with a host of African musicians.
Talking Heads found their own unique voice amid the screams of the new wave rock revolution. Their sound has evolved to one with great appeal to listeners in search of inventive music. As Rolling Stone observed: "If the essence of rock & roll is white kids trying to be as cool a black kids, then Talking Heads effected the most rarefied cultural synthesis of the Seventies, a fusion of git-down street rhythms and collegiate sensibilities heady enough to spawn a generation of imitators on both sides of the Atlantic."
Talking Heads, 1977.
More Songs about Music and Food, 1978.
Fear of Music, 1979.
Remain in Light, 1980.
The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, 1982.
Speaking in Tongues, 1983.
Stop Making Sense, 1984.
Little Creatures, 1985.
True Stories, 1986.
Source: Tim LaBorie
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