Talking Heads Reissues on Dual Discs

Artist: Talking Heads
Titles: 77, Remain In Light, True Stories, Naked, Little Creatures, Fear Of Music, More Songs About Building And Food, Speaking In Tongues
Format: Dual Disc-CD/DVD-A
Genre: Rock

The Talking Heads were an original band; to say they were unique is putting it mildly. They did not sound like anyone else nor did anyone sound like them. It’s hard to figure who they were influenced by while listening to more of their advanced recordings. From the third release forward, they changed the landscape of music forever.

Visually they were quite normal with the exception of the awkward and geeky looking lead singer David Bryne. If he put on a suit coat and tie, he could pass for a college professor or an executive on Wall Street. Overall, the Talking Heads were not your typical rock band.

Now with advent of DVD-A, we can listen to their entire studio recordings including videos from the archives and alternate and unfinished takes of tracks you never heard before. The CD sides are excellent as well. Rhino is one of the best at repackaging catalogs but this time I was a little annoyed with the sequencing of tracks. It is nice to have a choice, DVD-A on one side and CD on the other, however putting the bonus tracks only on the CD sides is very annoying. Why would I listen to CD audio when I can have surround sound? There are mixed opinions on the effectiveness of Dual Discs but my experiences have always been positive, with the exception of having to flip it over to hear all the bonus tracks. That is a minor factor when you look at the big picture and how much enjoyment is available like never before. The Talking Heads phenomenal output gets a just recourse with these reissues. Sit back and reminisce then listen to one of the most influential and important bands of our time like you never heard them before. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Talking Heads�

Speaking In Tongues

Where were you in 1983? Some of you reading this probably were not even born yet. I was winding down my tour with the Navy in Guam. I remember going to parties carrying my tape player and one of the cassette tapes I always had with me was the Talking Heads Speaking In Tongues. This was by far my favorite album by this band. “Burning Down The House” was the coolest song, it was so different than anything I had ever heard before. It came as no surprise when I got all eight discs in that I cracked open this one first. I could not wait to hear this is in 5.1 Surround Sound. It was everything I thought it would be and more.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

It is amazing how much you miss when you hear music when it is not in surround sound or remastered in DVD-A format. It has you wondering what was so wonderful about listening to this in the first place. Well when you have absolutely nothing else to compare it to you enjoy what you have-even it was a cassette you were wearing out.�¯�¿�½

This was a groundbreaking album for the Talking Heads and then bands like the Tom Tom Club, which Chris Franz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass) brought to the mainstream, were born because of albums like this, and many other similar bands would follow their lead. This was in essence the opening of the door to world music sounds for rock and pop music fans and it expanded their listening scope by leaps and bounds, whether they realized it or not. I think it is important to realize how important the contribution of Chris Franz’s percussion was on this recording, it was everything, and more evident now that it ever was.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

The “Burning Down The House” alternate mix is ultra cool, people that enjoy electronica mixes will be nuts about this version. The original video of “Burning Down The House,” back when MTV was a baby, which I remember (who can forget David Bryne’s face moving along the asphalt?), and the “This Must Be The Place (NaÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ve Melody)” video is included as well.
The Talking Heads would never be any better than this, it was an apex in their long and fruitful career, and it stands today as a true classic that had no barriers musically.�¯�¿�½

Rating-10/10�¯�¿�½

Remain In Light�¯�¿�½

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was…when you hear David Byrne sing those lyrics in their surrealistic song “Once In A Lifetime” you begin to recollect another classic Talking Heads album titled Remain In Light. The 80s would morph into something much less a few years after this recording was released. There were few bands in that decade with the originality and vision of the Talking Heads.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

This was their fourth studio album and you could hear the direction they were going. This sound would find full realization on their next studio outing Speaking In Tongues. The sound was funky and progressive with swirling punctual keyboards pushed along with David Byrne’s unique singing/talk vocals. Jerry Harrison commented that this was their most dense album to date and indeed, it was, in addition it was the first album they worked on bringing into the future with 5.1 surround sound. Eno’s influence is evident as usual, and it is always good to add another genius to the mix.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Highlights are “Crosseyed And Painless” and “Once In A Lifetime,” which are celebrated on the bonus videos in fitting fashion on stage (I believe the additional guitar player in the video is Adrian Belew, the others I did not recognize), and “The Overload,” one of the heaviest songs they have ever performed. You get four unfinished outtakes on this remaster, which is an interesting look at this band and how they built a track from the ground up. The artwork of the album is a product of their NYC heritage and influence, mimicking the avante garde art of Andy Warhol on the front and back cover.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Rating-9.5/10

More Songs About Buildings And Food

I still have no idea why this album was titled More Songs About Buildings And Food. There is nothing in the recording that fits any of those descriptive words, possibly this is referring to a fragmented process with their song writing. It is more about people and every day situations. This is the first Eno produced album and he decided that bringing out the bass and drums more was appropriate. It sounded great and it did not drown out David Byrne at all. The Talking Heads did not suffer from the sophomore slump; it is an excellent rock and roll record.�¯�¿�½

The music is right for the time it was recorded, it is all danceable with great hooks, and radio ready. It is interesting hearing this and how simple it is compared to Remain In Light and Speaking In Tongues. Besides Byrne’s distinctive vocals, they sounded like an entirely different band on preceding albums. On tracks like “Artists Only” they sound very new wave and there is even a few segments that have a cool 60s surf organ sound to them. “Take Me To The River” surprised everyone at the time, its a compelling version and very pragmatic and bluesy. This was a great rock and roll band doing what they did best, or was it? Time would tell. This was the Talking Heads and no band on earth sounded like them-period. Regardless of what style of music they put out, they stood alone.

Four bonus tracks featuring alternate takes of “Stay Hungry,” “I’m Not In Love”, “The Big Country” and an interesting “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” – “Country Angel” version including live videos of “Found A Job” and “Warning Sign” make the package complete.

Rating-8.5/10�¯�¿�½

Fear Of Music

This is one of the Talking Heads darker and stranger albums. That being the case it did not deter me from listening and enjoying it even though its one of my least favorite albums in their catalog, there are some real gems. Yes, they were different, quirky, and weird, so much so that you just had to hear it all.�¯�¿�½

“Drugs” and “Electric Guitar” are very odd and the repetitive lyrics put you one edge, which is the whole idea one can imagine. “Life During Wartime” is one of their greatest songs, its right up there with “Burning Down The House” and “Psycho Killer,” they just do not get much better than that. “Cities” is cool number as well, it has a temperament, and atmosphere built to last, and it still holds true today. The alternate versions of “Life During Wartime,” “Cities,” and “Mind” are a real trip, definitely worth several listens and some introspection on how complex and conscious this band was of its audience and what goes on inside their minds.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

The Talking Heads could be intense, funny, witty and lightâ�¦on Fear Of Music they chilled you to the bone with the harsh realities of life backed by some of the coolest and most original music anyone was producing at the time, even if it was a bit weird and different, they made a statement in many ways.�¯�¿�½

Rating-8/10

True Stories

This is not the greatest Talking Heads album but it is a fun listen. What I hear is getting back to basics rock and roll, not as in your face and poignant as 77, nevertheless effective.�¯�¿�½

This was David Byrne’s stab at celluloid and matching a soundtrack with it. I never saw the film but regardless of sub-par and overly critically reviews, this was a solid album.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

“Wild Wild Life” was a great song and very memorable, it was the Talking Heads at their best. You read all of the comments in reviews about how the band was fragmenting and had seen better days yet they remained one of the most creative and popular acts in the world. The great bands are like that, even on a bad day they sound above average. This was a good recording but definitely not one of their best.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Bonuses include videos “Wild Wild Life” and “Love For Sale,” and on the audio side you get a 5.1 mix Pops Staples version of “Papa Legba,” one of the more interesting tracks on the album.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Rating-7/10

Naked�¯�¿�½

This is a Talking Heads album I never bothered to check out and now I know why. This has to be their worst effort-it was not the band that I had come to know and love so much.�¯�¿�½

Naked seems uninspired and disjointed. This would be their last studio effort and with good reason, its one of those albums that never should have happened at all.�¯�¿�½

The bonus track “Sax and Violins” is pretty cool and the video bonus looked good as well but the problem is I could not watch it because it did not work. Yes, this was a total bomb from where I sit.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Rating-4/10�¯�¿�½

77

77 is my second most favorite Talking Heads album. There are not many bands that separate themselves from the pack while clearly defining a new genre of music, the Talking Heads did just that with their first effort.�¯�¿�½

“Psycho Killer” makes you think of the new wave of punk bands in NYC and CBGBs in the 70s. “Pulled Up,” which is also a featured bonus video, is another standout track that is nothing but Talking Heads and “Happy Day” impresses me as another archetypal track of that era.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

What a great album this is, its so consistent and strong from start to finish and with the addition of five additional bonus tracks, a remastered dual disc and videos, its quite the package and one all Talking Heads fans should not miss.�¯�¿�½

Rating-9/10

Little Creatures

I always loved the Little Creatures album, with its infectious rhythms and pop sensibilities, it was one of the best albums of 1985, and it was loaded with potential hit singles. The recording was a perfect fit for the MTV format at the time. I remember the “Stay Up Late” video very well. I love that lineâÂ?¦”cute, cute, little baby, little pee-pee, little toes-what a riot watching David Byrne with straight laced facial expressions singing that song, come to think of it, I do not think I ever saw the man smile.

“Road To Nowhere” is one of the best songs the Talking Heads ever recorded, its in my personal top ten for the band. The bonus tracks feature the early versions of “Road To Nowhere” and “And She Was” and a wonderful extended mix of “Television Man.” All three were real bonus tracks, not bogus tracks. The videos of “Road To Nowhere” and “And She Was” were a pleasure to view as well, all of their videos were interesting but these two were Warhol influenced masterpieces.

This is an album to cherish, the last truly great Talking Heads studio recording.�¯�¿�½

Rating-9/10�¯�¿�½

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