Even for those die-hard Talk Talk fans among us, the band’s final album, LAUGHING STOCK, gets only a rating as “SPIRIT OF EDEN II.” It’s not that folks don’t absolutely love it. They do. But, when it comes to the history of Talk Talk and the history of rock, 1988’s SPIRIT OF EDEN is better remembered as the innovating album, the heroic but not so polite one in and on which Hollis told EMI and the commercial world where to go and what to do when they got there.
Begin obsessed with Talk Talk since 1986’s THE COLOUR OF SPRING, I, too, am guilty of ranking LAUGHING STOCK somewhere in the band’s top three, but never number one. Of course, I’ve always loved LAUGHING STOCK. No question there. What’s not to love? Yet, it’s always been—at least in my mind—a kind of final moment, a release, an innovative remake of SPIRIT OF EDEN, featuring the core that made the 1988 album so successful: Hollis; Friese-Green; and Brown.
I first purchased the CD of LAUGHING STOCK (even before I owned a CD player) at Waterloo records in Austin on the day it came out. Craig Breaden (also of Progarchist infamy) and I were attending a history conference there, and Waterloo was across the river from our hotel. Stunningly, when it came to the band, I actually knew far more than Craig. Believe me, this is important, as no one knows the history of rock from the early 60s to the early 90s better than does Craig.