Mark Hollis remembered

Mark Hollis

Of all the band’s whose evolution over their lifespan might not have been expected, Talk Talk might well top the list. Lead by Mark Hollis, who died today aged 64, they went from being seen as possible new romantic rivals to Duran Duran around the time of their 1982 debut, The Party’s Over and its accomplished follow-up It’s My Life (1984) to laying the groundwork for Radiohead and post-rock over the trio of records that is The Colour Of Spring (1986), Spirit Of Eden (1988) and Laughing Stock (1991).

So here, in tribute, a track from each of those five albums, and one from his only solo album.

From 1982’s The Party’s Over, the eponymous single ‘Talk Talk.’ Sure you can hear the similarity to acts like Duran, Visage and A Flock Of Seagulls, but there’s a scope here that suggests they are thinking beyond the nightclubs of London town.


From 1984’s It’s My Life, the title track (later covered by No Doubt). This wouldn’t be the last time there would be an animal flavoured video.

From 1986’s The Colour Of Spring ‘Life’s What You Make It.’ Another animal-featuring video…one of their best known songs.


Whilst 1988’s Spirit Of Eden didn’t produce any big hit singles, it showed that the band had moved on leaps and bounds even from the changes that had come about on their previous album. It shows a link with pastoral records like Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure (1983) and points to post-rock, particularly bands like Sigur Ros.

The band’s final album would become even more minimalist – and links to bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and possibly full circle to early 80’s contemporaries like David Sylvian. This opening track is seemingly about suicide but utterly beautiful.

Mark’s sole release under his own name was his 1998 eponymous album from which this is taken. Just brilliant.

He retired from the music business to focus on bringing up his two sons. 17 Seconds sends best wishes to his family and friends.

Placebo update ’80s art classic

Lots of bands have strange evolutions over time – and Talk Talk went from being possible rivals to Duran Duran in 1982 to ambient art-rockers over the course of their five studio albums over the next decade.

Placebo, meanwhile, may have emerged around the same time as the Britpop crowd, but they’re still going strong over twenty years later, without having had to cross over to the comeback/nostalgia trail.

Placebo have just unveiled the video for their version of Talk Talk’s 1986 hit ‘Life’s What You Make It,‘ which probably remains Talk Talk’s best known song. Placebo’s Brian Molko had a concept in mind that was loosely based around the original 1986 Talk Talk video that was shot at night on London’s Wimbledon Common. Directed by Tim Pope – most famous for his work with The Cure – the video featured the band surrounded by nature, complete with, as Molko puts it, little beasties crawling over leaves. Brian felt that there could be an updated version, where the band would be robots playing instruments and that e-waste would replace nature, as it appears to be doing only a few decades after the song’s original release. The brief that the band put out to prospective directors was short, simple and open to interpretation: e-waste, please!” 

The only response they got was from Sasha Rainbow. The resulting video was shot in Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in the heart of Accra, in Ghana, which is home to one of the world’s largest electronic waste dumps. It sets an apocalyptic backdrop of first-world waste against the daily lives of those who inhabit this thoroughly otherworldly space.

She explains: “The two boys in the film live in this extraordinary place, which for me, highlights a human’s ability to adapt with incredible strength, resilience, and humanity.” She adds: “I hoped to capture the environment in a dreamily meditative way that would at once juxtapose and yet synergise with the theme of the song, and glimpse at part of the repercussions of our current technological revolution. On the one hand, technology is enabling us to create things beyond our wildest imagination, and yet little discussion has been had about what to do with all our discarded e-waste.”

Placebo will also be on tour in the UK in October:

Sat 7  Edinburgh Usher Hall
Sun 8  Dundee Caird Hall
Tue 10  Doncaster Dome
Wed 11  Blackpool Empress Ballroom
Fri 13 Reading Rivermead
Sat 14  Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Mon 16 Portsmouth Guildhall
Tue 17  Swindon Oasis
Fri 20  Plymouth Pavilions
Sat 21 Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Mon 23  London O2 Brixton Academy