The Name Of This Band Is The Talking Heads
By: Eric Greenwood
Despite the accolades for Jonathan Demme’s artsy live document of the Talking Heads’ 1984 tour, Stop Making Sense, this New York quartet has never really been given its due as a live powerhouse. This under-appreciated 1982 live album should rewrite history for those unaware. It’s remained relatively obscure for just over two decades, never having been issued on CD, in large part because of the assumption that since Stop Making Sense was such a commercial hit, it therefore filled the demand for live Talking Heads material.
Rhino Records has released this double-disc set with vastly expanded liner notes and an unbelievable additional 13 tracks. The first disc draws heavily from their first two records, Talking Heads ‘77 and More Songs About Buildings and Food, covering the band’s early years between ‘77 and ‘79, where the original quartet cemented its reputation in New York as the anti-punk’s punk, or, rather, the thinking man’s punk. The versions here destroy all studio recordings. The band is absolutely ferocious live: David Byrne’s anxious vocal ticks and nervous, stream-of-conscious affectations are practically growled here, lending more muscle to Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz’s driving rhythm section.
The second disc’s material was culled from the Remain in Light tour in 1981, where the band more than doubled in size to reproduce the music faithfully in a live setting. Talking Heads were still relatively obscure at this time, but the musical leap forward is astonishing. Famed Frank Zappa and David Bowie guitarist Adrian Belew sets fire to classics like “Life During Wartime” and “Crosseyed and Painless” with his virtuoso guitar work, and Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell fortifies the band’s latent proclivity for funk.
The Talking Heads’ ambition and confidence is obvious throughout. No band had ever rocked with so much irony and brains. Byrne’s dryness is even evident in the album’s deadpan title. The band’s multi-dimensional facets captured by this set far better represent the sublime genius of Talking Heads than any of its studio albums alone