It was a few months ago that Echorich supplied this blog with a very classy ICA on Talking Heads; it was one that concentrated on the band’s first four albums from the debut in 1977 through to Remain In Light in 1980. It was hard to argue with his selections but what was noticeable is that he omitted the single that really brought the band to attention here in the UK thanks to it reaching #14 in the charts in March 1981, some six months after the album had been released.
It’s a great and memorable pop song but there’s no doubt its sales were boosted by the promo video – one that back in 1981 seemed so clever, stylish and futuristic as well as containing a quirky but memorable performance from David Byrne.
I had always assumed that the 45 had been massive in America but was astonished to learn that it didn’t dent the Top 100. A short time later it might have been different in that MTV launched in August 1981 and the promo for Once In A Lifetime was on very heavy rotation; but by then the single wasn’t available in the shops albeit it did help the sales of the parent LP. It also set the band up nicely for mainstream success in their home country by the time the follow-up Speaking In Tongues was released in 1983.
To show how unprepared the band and Sire Records were for a hit single in the UK, it was only made available in the 7″ format (with an edited version that was tailor-made for radio) with its b-side also lifted from Remain In Light and thus not really providing an incentive for fans who already owned the album to shell out for the 45:-
Both sides still sound pretty sensational, modern and vibrant 37 years after they were recorded.