1/  Sharkey's Day                              (Anderson)                    7.41
  2/  Langue d'Amour                             (Anderson)                    6.12
  3/  Gravity's Angel                            (Anderson)                    6.02
  4/  Kokoku                                     (Anderson)                    7.03
  5/  Excellent Birds                            (Anderson,Gabriel)            3.12
  6/  Blue Lagoon                                (Anderson)                    7.03
  7/  Sharkey's Night                            (Anderson)                    2.29

          Recorded at The Lobby
          Additional tracks recorded at RCA, A&R and 39th Street Music, New York
          Engineer: Leanne Ungar
          Assistants at RCA: Mike Getlin, Joe Lopes and Pat Martin
          Assistant at A & R: Larry Franke
          Assistant at 39th Strret Music: Tim Cox
          Mixed at RPM by Mike Krowiak
          Track 3 mixed with the help of Bill Laswell
          Technical consultant and systems design: Bob Bielecki
          Tracks 1,4 & 7 produced by Bill Laswell and Laurie Anderson
          Tracks 2 & 6 produced by Roma Baron and Laurie Anderson
          Track 3 produced by Laurie Anderson
          Track 5 produced by Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel
          Mastered by Bob Ludwig and Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk
Laurie Anderson: vocals, Synclavier, violin (1,7), whistle (1,7), Vocoder (2), electronic conches (2), bell (3), percussion (4); Bill Laswell (except 2): bass; Adrian Belew (1,3,6,7): guitar; Anton Fier: drums (1,7), toms (4), woodblock (4); Daniel Ponce (1,7): iya, ikonkolo, shekere, double bell from the Cameroons; Peter Gabriel: back-up vocals (2,3), vocals (5), Synclavier (5), Linn drum (5); David van Tieghem: plywood (3), bowls (3), Simmons drums (3), drums (3), steel drum (6), gato (6), bamboo (6); Song Won Park (4): kayagum; Phoebe Snow & Atsuko Yuma (4): back-up vocals; Connie Harvey & Janet Wright (4): Japanese chorus; Nile Rodgers (5): guitar; Bill Blaber (6): soprano; William S. Burroughs (7): vocals; NOVEMBER - Michelle Cobbs, Dolette McDonald & Brenda Nelson (1): back-up vocals.

          1984 - Warner Bros. Records (USA), 9 25077-1 (Vinyl)
          1984 - Warner Bros. Records (USA), 9 25077-2 (CD)
          1990 - Warner Bros. Records (Europe), 9 25077-2 (CD)
Note: Track 5 appears on Peter Gabriel's album 'So', as "This is the Picture" (CD only).


A more pop-oriented record (there are songs here and musicians like Adrian Belew and Peter Gabriel), Anderson displays a functional singing voice that graces such wonderful songs as "Sharkey's Day" and "Excellent Birds" (a duet with Gabriel). More accessible than ‘Big Science’, but in some ways a record indicating that while she may not be a musician herself, Anderson certainly knows how to pick them, work with them, and challenge them. A thoroughly wonderful record.

John Dugan (review courtesy of the All Music Guide website)


I think this is probably Laurie Anderson's single best work, although there are some great songs and stories on her other albums. But there's usually something on one of those other albums that I'm quick to hit the next button with, whereas every song on Mister Heartbreak is fascinating and interesting. Anderson's music is quite experimental, from the noises used in the production to the structure of the "songs," and there are a fair number of failures in her recorded output which makes the lack of the same on this album unusual.

I inevitably connect Anderson's sound to the minimalists of classical music, for at the same time I discovered Anderson I was also immersed in Philip Glass, an avid experimentalist in his own right. Both composures use repetitive structures upon which they overlay new sounds or slowly modify from the repeating pattern to discover a melody. However, Anderson's repetition is mostly through rhythmic patterns rather than repeated melodic passages. To break up the repetition are unusual sounds wrung out of Adrian Belew's guitar and the off-kilter percussion of David van Tiegham.

But the real reason I enjoy this album is for the lyrics, which were repeated constantly by my circle of friends in college so much that they quicklyl became catch phrases, were you only had to start a passage and everyone knew what you were referring to. Anderson's skill with language is that she is able to distill a phrase out of its common usage and make it sound new and fresh, partly through the phrasing, akin to how William Shatner would make each word a separate sentence. In "Blue Lagoon," it's the simple passage of "I got your letter. Thanks. A lot." By breaking the phrase in this way, you start focusing on each word until it becomes unfamiliar, like when you stare at a word so long that it ceases to look like that word or seems to be misspelled.

The themes here range from the literary (from the lifting of passages from Herman Melville's Moby Dick in Blue Lagoon to the Pynchonian "Gravity's Angel") to the mythological ("Kokoku" and "Langue D'Amour"). My favorites have to be the bracketing songs, "Sharkey's Day" and "Sharkey's Night," the latter with a guest vocal by William S. Burroughs, whose gravelly-voiced delivery is a perfect counterpoint to Anderson's silkier tones.

I can't necessarily recommend Laurie Anderson, because like most experimental artists, she's one that takes quite some time to get used to. However, as an introduction to her work, Mister Heartbreak is likely the most accessible and repeatedly listenable.

5 stars out of 5

MrWright (courtesy of the Rate Your Music website)