Rest in peace, Mark Hollis: Talk Talk, “Life Is What You Make It” (1986)


Word circulated today that Mark Hollis, the leader of UK group Talk Talk, passed away at the age of 64.

The band hit the music scene in 1981 but first saw chart success the following year with their eponymous first release. “Talk Talk” failed to chart in the US the first time around, but a later-in-the-year re-release made it into the Billboard Hot 100. (That hasn’t precluded it from turning up on various Hits of the 80s discs.) Their second single, “Today,” went on to become a #14 hit in the UK. Their one American Top 40 single came in 1984. “It’s My Life,” which I’ve seen referenced in a lot of stories about the band today, edged up to #31, making it a bigger hit here than in the UK.

But the record I thought of when I heard the news was “Life’s What You Make It.” Released in 1986, it only made #90 in the States but was a #16 record in the UK and made the Top 20 in five other countries. I remember it being around the WLRA studios in 1987, which would have been my introduction to the band.

In 1988 the band released their Spirit of Eden LP. While yielding no big hits, the record was critically acclaimed. Hollis described the album in this way: “It’s certainly a reaction to the music that’s around at the moment, ‘cos most of that is shit.” Hollis was working recently, composing music for the TV show Boss.

You can hear “Life’s What You Make It” by clicking here.


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