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David Byrne - Grown Backwards

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Grown Backwards

David Byrne

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David Byrne, like fellow New York transplant David Bowie, has reached a well-deserved apex in his career. After eight post-Talking Heads solo outings, the eccentric composer, songwriter, artist, and world music entrepreneur has transcended the inconsistencies of his previous efforts and created a genuinely moving and wickedly fun record. Like Bowie's Heathen and Reality, Grown Backwards is a mature work by an icon who has come to terms with his past, present, and future, and there's a joy in the simple act of creativity here that gives even the heaviest of subject matter an effervescent charm. Opening with "Glass, Concrete, and Stone," Byrne finds the perfect middle ground between his orchestral epic The Forest and the South American-inspired Rei Momo -- in fact, it's the latter that informs many of Backwards' arrangements. Texas-based chamber group the Tosca Strings feature on nearly every track, giving the more experimental cuts a much needed fluidity, especially on the arias Un Di Felice, Eterea, from Verdi's La Traviata, and Au Fond du Temple Saint, a duet from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. It's no great surprise that the shape-shifting Byrne has chosen opera as his latest foray, but what is surprising is that it works. The Bizet duet in particular, featuring Rufus Wainwright, is lent an emotional resonance by the juxtaposition of the pair's wildly different vocal styles -- when they finally meet in harmony it's like two Central Park bums behind Tavern on the Green, clinking their 40-ounce bottles and weeping into a dumpster beneath a sea of summer stars. The wonderfully acerbic "Empire," with its refrain of "The weak among us perish," is Byrne at his political best, emphasizing the "play" in wordplay like a sinister Paul Simon. While by no means a protest record, it bristles with liberal wit and social commentary, especially on the Broadway-style "The Other Side of This Life," a hilarious and scathing jab at the entertainment empires and their minions. "Tiny Apocalypse" finds Byrne at his surreal best, nearly rapping the lyrics "A three-tone carpet and a Jackie Chan spear/lookin' at a hairdo and a bellyful of beer/well, I ain't no poet, ain't got no rhyme/but I got me a car and I know how to drive" over an easy Tropicalia groove. As with many of the prolific artist's releases, the record could be trimmed by five or six songs, but fans have grown accustomed to these aberrations -- which are still of higher quality that many in the industry -- and are willing to either let them go or let them grow. While by no means perfect, Grown Backwards is the colorful, multiethnic sound of a New York City enthralled with itself, and like a select few of the Big Apple's denizens, Byrne is a perfect conduit for its love. ~ James Christopher Monger

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Grown Backwards

David Byrne

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1
Glass, Concrete & Stone
00:04:13

Jane Scarpantoni, Cello - Mark Saunders, Mixer, Recorded by - Patrick Dillett, Producer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - David Byrne, Composer, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Bass, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - David Hilliard, Percussion - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion, Marimba

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

2
The Man Who Loved Beer
00:02:40

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Steve Williams, Drums - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - Kurt Wagner, Writer - David Byrne, Producer, Electric Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - John Mills, Bass Clarinet, Flute - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - Elaine Barber, Harp - Freddie Mendoza, Euphonium, Trombone - Mike Maddox, Accordion - The Tosca Strings, Strings

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

3
Au fond du temple saint
00:04:48

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Georges Bizet, Writer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - David Byrne, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger, Piano - Rufus Wainwright, Vocals - John Mills, Bass Clarinet, Flute - Elaine Barber, Harp - Freddie Mendoza, Euphonium, Trombone - Mike Maddox, Accordion - The Tosca Strings, Strings - Pamelia Kurstin, Theremin - Tom Burritt, Timpani, Marimba

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

4
Empire
00:04:13

Gary Smulyan, Baritone Saxophone - Patrick Dillett, Producer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - Keith O'Quinn, Trombone - Alex Foster, Tenor Saxophone - David Byrne, Producer, Writer, MainArtist - Ray Anderson, Trombone - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Lew Soloff, Trumpet - Tom Mark, Recorded by - Steve Swallow, Bass - Earl Gardner, Trumpet - CARLA BLEY, Arranger - Bob Stewart, Tuba - Bob Routch, French Horn - Karen Mantler, Organ - Vincent Herring, Alto Saxophone

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

5
Tiny Apocalypse
00:04:03

Greg Lawson, Violin - Patrick Dillett, Producer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - David Byrne, Producer, Vocals, Writer, Fender Rhodes Keyboards, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Tony Doogan, Recorded by - Donald Gillan, Cello - Fiona Stephen, Violin - Johnny Quinn, Drums - Lisa Aferiat, Violin - Una McGlone, Bass - Barry Burns, Fender Rhodes Keyboards - Georgia Boyd, Viola - Robert Irvine, Cello

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

6
She Only Sleeps
00:02:57

Mark Saunders, Mixer - Paul Godfrey, Musicians - Ross Godfrey, Keyboards - Patrick Dillett, Producer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - Joe Cooper, Percussion - Pete Norris, Engineer - David Byrne, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Andy Waterworth, Bass

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

7
Dialog Box
00:03:31

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Steve Williams, Drums - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger, Horns Arranger - John Mills, Horns Arranger, Baritone Saxophone - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - Jon Blondell, Trombone

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

8
The Other Side of This Life
00:04:00

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Steve Williams, Bells, Drums - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion, Samples - Elaine Barber, Harp - The Tosca Strings, Strings

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

9
Why
00:02:55

Patrick Dillett, Producer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Drum Programmer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - The Tosca Strings, Strings - John Spurney, Keyboards - Kenneth Wollensen, Drums

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

10
Pirates
00:03:53

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Kenny Wollesen, Drums - John Mills, Baritone Saxophone - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - The Tosca Strings, Strings - Jon Blondell, Trombone

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

11
Civilization
00:03:17

John Linnell, Accordion - Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Kenny Wollesen, Drums - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - Alan Ford, Musicians

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

12
Astronaut
00:02:55

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Steve Williams, Percussion - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - Pamelia Kurstin, Theremin

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

13
Glad
00:01:57

Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by - Steve Williams, Musicians - Greg Calbi, Masterer - PAUL FRAZIER, Bass - David Byrne, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - John Mills, Bass Clarinet - Mauro Refrosco, Percussion - The Tosca Strings, Strings - Jon Blondell, Trombone

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

14
Un di felice, eterea
00:02:51

Patrick Dillett, Producer - Giuseppe Verdi, Writer - Greg Calbi, Masterer - KEVIN KILLEN, Mixer, Recorded by - David Byrne, Producer, MainArtist - John Patitucci, Bass - Stephen Barber, Arranger - Alan Stepansky, Cello - Sandra Park, Violin - Sharon Yamada, Violin - Soo Hyun Kwon, Violin - Dawn Hannay, Viola - Jeremy Turner, Cello - Katherine Fong, Violin - Mark Nuccio, Clarinet - Shelly and Keith, LLC, Horn, Oboe - David Creswell, Viola - Philip Myers, French Horn

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

15
Lazy
00:09:35

X-Press 2, Writer - Mauro Refosco, Percussion - Patrick Dillett, Producer, Mixer, Background Vocals, Recorded by - Steve Williams, Drums - Greg Calbi, Masterer - David Byrne, Producer, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Writer, Drum Programmer, MainArtist - Stephen Barber, Arranger - The Tosca Strings, Strings - Paul Frasier, Bass

2004 Nonesuch Records 2004 Nonesuch Records

Descrizione dell'album

David Byrne, like fellow New York transplant David Bowie, has reached a well-deserved apex in his career. After eight post-Talking Heads solo outings, the eccentric composer, songwriter, artist, and world music entrepreneur has transcended the inconsistencies of his previous efforts and created a genuinely moving and wickedly fun record. Like Bowie's Heathen and Reality, Grown Backwards is a mature work by an icon who has come to terms with his past, present, and future, and there's a joy in the simple act of creativity here that gives even the heaviest of subject matter an effervescent charm. Opening with "Glass, Concrete, and Stone," Byrne finds the perfect middle ground between his orchestral epic The Forest and the South American-inspired Rei Momo -- in fact, it's the latter that informs many of Backwards' arrangements. Texas-based chamber group the Tosca Strings feature on nearly every track, giving the more experimental cuts a much needed fluidity, especially on the arias Un Di Felice, Eterea, from Verdi's La Traviata, and Au Fond du Temple Saint, a duet from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. It's no great surprise that the shape-shifting Byrne has chosen opera as his latest foray, but what is surprising is that it works. The Bizet duet in particular, featuring Rufus Wainwright, is lent an emotional resonance by the juxtaposition of the pair's wildly different vocal styles -- when they finally meet in harmony it's like two Central Park bums behind Tavern on the Green, clinking their 40-ounce bottles and weeping into a dumpster beneath a sea of summer stars. The wonderfully acerbic "Empire," with its refrain of "The weak among us perish," is Byrne at his political best, emphasizing the "play" in wordplay like a sinister Paul Simon. While by no means a protest record, it bristles with liberal wit and social commentary, especially on the Broadway-style "The Other Side of This Life," a hilarious and scathing jab at the entertainment empires and their minions. "Tiny Apocalypse" finds Byrne at his surreal best, nearly rapping the lyrics "A three-tone carpet and a Jackie Chan spear/lookin' at a hairdo and a bellyful of beer/well, I ain't no poet, ain't got no rhyme/but I got me a car and I know how to drive" over an easy Tropicalia groove. As with many of the prolific artist's releases, the record could be trimmed by five or six songs, but fans have grown accustomed to these aberrations -- which are still of higher quality that many in the industry -- and are willing to either let them go or let them grow. While by no means perfect, Grown Backwards is the colorful, multiethnic sound of a New York City enthralled with itself, and like a select few of the Big Apple's denizens, Byrne is a perfect conduit for its love. ~ James Christopher Monger

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