It's just that I had no idea. In the mid 1980s I was working in the record shop and getting into just about anything as long as it didn't make it into the upper reaches of the charts. I was listening to... hmm, let me think... off the top of my head: the Fuzztones, the Godfathers, the Pebbles albums, Mighty Lemon Drops, Rain Parade, the Prisoners, Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain.... Bands like Talk Talk were easily dismissed in my young mind as too commercial, too mainstream for my taste. We had to play chart music every Saturday in the shop, it was compulsory. It became like a factory soundtrack. So I was a musical snob, I felt contemptuous to a lot of it, and it's probably for this reason that I never paid any attention to the back story on Mark Hollis and his band.
The back story, which I've only just discovered (and I realise this may be old news to anyone more in the know, but in case you're like me....) was that Mark was really one of those true artists who, having had some success, still maintained the desire to express himself musically, with whatever natural, personal drive he had, and without compromise. After providing his record company EMI with a couple of hit singles, he was given financial and artistic freedom to work on a new album (Spirit of Eden). And the result was not what EMI wanted. I guess they'd been expecting a dozen It's My Life facscimiles, but what they got instead was jazzy, improvised, dark and introspective with several tracks exceeding 8 minutes in length. I can imagine the look on the executives' faces when they heard it for the first time. ...
So what did EMI do? They sued Hollis for being wilfully obscure and uncommercial.
The case was eventually thrown out of court, but the damage was done. Hollis left EMI and signed to Polydor – but then EMI released, without his consent, a remix album of earlier Talk Talk material and re-issued It's My Life - which was of course no longer at all representative of the band's sound. So Hollis sued EMI. And this is all why I am a little bit in love with him.
That, and the way he comes across on this classic TV interview, alongside the rather lovely film director Tim Pope, who strikes me as being thoroughly funny too. I love the way they just won't "play the game".
And there was me thinking Talk Talk were just a fairly unremarkable, somewhat inane product of the anodyne eighties pop world. I love it when my expectations are confounded, when there is so much more to people than we think at first. It's a lesson in never being too quick to judge.