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Talking Heads

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Prog Metal Team
4 stars Not only were Talking Heads a great studio band but they could definitely hold their ground even in a live setting. Even if Stop Making Sense is the more popular choice when it comes to proving that, I personally always preferred that early period of their first four albums which is perfectly covered on the 2-CD compilation called The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads!

Spanning over a total of 33 tracks on two CD's split into two parts where the first CD covers the period of 1977-79, where the band plays almost entirely as a quartet, and the second CD that covers the period of 1980-81, where the band was expanded into a mini-orchestra and featured Adrian Belew on guitar and backing vocals. The entire length of this live compilation is almost 160 minutes, giving a very complete experience of the two periods in Talking Heads' career, showing us the amazing live band that they were back in the day.

Even to this day I can't decide which of the two CDs I actually prefer since it usually depends on my mood. Right now I'm definitely leaning to the simpler, but more direct, approach of the early live material where the band relies entirely on their traditional rock music instruments and David Byrne's front man charisma in order to convey their music to the audiences. This works brilliantly thanks to the crisp sound production and great enthusiasm from the band members who manage to make most of these performances even more exciting than their studio versions! The second CD can almost be described as Adrian Belew's tour de force since he pretty much hijacks the band's sound on songs like Warning Sign, Born Under Punches and Crosseyed And Painless!

There is really no denying that The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads is the ultimate Talking Heads live album experience. Stop Making Sense might be more interesting for people who are not entirely familiar with Talking Heads' music since it offers a rich visual feast to back up the experience, but songs from Speaking In Tongues tend to ruin some of its momentum for me. This is definitely not the case here, even if I hesitate to give this release the highest rating due to such a wide variety of live performances featured here, I highly recommend everyone to check out this album!

***** star songs: New Feeling (3:10) Pulled Up (4:04) Psycho Killer (5:32) Who Is It (1:44) The Book I Read (4:22) I'm Not In Love (4:57) Artists Only (3:49) Air (4:01) Love->Building On Fire (3:47) Psycho Killer (5:33) Warning Sign (5:40) Cities (5:00) Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (8:24) Crosseyed And Painless (5:58) Life During Wartime (4:54)

**** star songs: A Clean Break (5:05) Don't Worry About The Government (3:04) The Big Country (5:09) The Girls Want To Be With The Girls (3:44) Electricity (Drugs) (3:28) Found A Job (5:35) Stay Hungry (4:05) Heaven (4:31) Stay Hungry (3:56) Drugs (4:41) Once In A Lifetime (5:57) Animals (4:05) Houses In Motion (6:54) Take Me To The River (6:33) The Great Curve (6:42)

*** star songs: Mind (4:56) Memories (Can't Wait) (3:44) I Zimbra (3:30)

Report this review (#298159)
Posted Thursday, September 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to say this one of the albums that really endeared me to the band.

Most certainly brings back memories and Memories Can't Wait. It showcases two periods in the band's life from the original foursome to the expanded band. They were never quite the same after the contraction when Adrian Belew moved on, though Stop Making Sense was an excellent concert video. For me this was their golden age. It took me a while to get into their first album, but this helped open me up to it. I had already warmed up to the band moving backwards from Remain In Light.

If you enjoyed this one on vinyl as much as I did the CD released in 2004 is even better. Talk about bonus tracks. You've practically got LP four albums worth of live material here rather than the original two!

The second CD in the expanded version of this album is a recreation of the set which the expanded version of the band performed live.

A good introductory album to those interested in exploring this band.

Report this review (#303513)
Posted Monday, October 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album, originally released in 1982 as a double-live album, and finally issued on CD in 2004 as a 2-disc package nearly twice as long as the original, is so flabbergastingly awesome that it's literally altered the way I view the band. Thanks to this album, I finally feel like I actually get what the band was trying to do, and furthermore I feel like I can enjoy the band as more than just an "interesting for interesting's sake" group centered around a quirky sonic texture. Hardcore fans of the band's studio efforts may scoff at the fact that it took a live album for me to accomplish this, and they may well be right; however, I would contend that if you have any ear whatsoever for live albums, you'll be able to appreciate what it is about this album that makes that so.

Name is slightly unusual for a live album in that, instead of attempting to give the listener an idea of what a "single representative concert" from the band sounded like, the album functions as an "evolutionary retrospective" of the band's development through the Remain in Light tour. The second disc is actually entirely devoted to that tour, whereas the first disc traces the band's journey from its original minimalistic '77 roots, through the dense guitar interplay and paranoia of '78 and '79. I'll tell you one thing about the '77 performances, taken from a live-in-the-studio recording: there is NO WAY I would have initially considered the songs from that album boring if they had been performed like this. There's just so much power and energy, and Byrne (already) sounds so much more deranged than on the studio album, that by the second listen I was totally floored. Sure, there's a lot to be owed to the remastering efforts, and I'm betting that even the band's club shows didn't sound quite like this, but still, what a listen.

Up next is the '78 Buildings and Food period, where my feelings of "huh, what a neat sound, if only I could remember more of the songs" turns into "wow, these are great songs!" I mean, yeah, I always thought "Found a Job" ruled, but replacing the extended Carribbean vibes coda with an extended coda of one guitar chugging away and the other playing the melody of the original coda again and again and again in such a brazen, audience-be-damned manner was just a stroke of genius. And sheesh, how did "Girls Want to be with the Girls" and (especially) "I'm Not in Love" become so intensely enjoyable? How did "Big Country" stop sucking, and how did "Drugs" become so freaking pleasant in addition to retaining a measure of creepiness? I know of some who want to put the blame solely with Eno for causing the studio versions of these tracks to have so much less power than these live performances, and maybe they'd have a point, but that would ignore the big step up in the pre-Eno '77 tracks. Let's just attribute it to Talking Heads being a great live band, mmkay?

Come '79, the band's live performances start to (naturally) take on the mood of Fear, even in tracks that had been penned earlier (both "Artists Only" and "Stay Hungry," the latter of which is given a neat dark keyboard passage in the middle, are done in somewhat disturbing ways). "Mind," "Air" and "Heaven" are all easily the equals of their studio versions (and in some ways superior; yay for energy and extra atmosphere), and "Memories Can't Wait" is very arguably superior, if only because of the extra echo on David's voice, and the weird mannerisms he takes on when singing.

So that's disc 1. Disc 2 sees the band expanding greatly, bringing in six extra musicians to make the sound fuller and give the group even a fighting chance of replicating the world- beat craziness of Remain in Light. The really good news out of all this is that Adrian Belew is here and in top form, contributing his bizarrely diverse sonic pallette in its full splendor, but it's just as nice to have everybody else around (especially Bernie Worrell on clavinet). Now, I know that some people would probably shrug their shoulders at the fact that the best the band can pull off is mimicing the studio versions, and that due to the lack of a bazillion studio overdubs they can't even pull that off completely. In other words, one might ask, what's the point of this disc? Well, I'll tell you; it's that listening to this ensemble working its collective tail off to make these songs work causes me to respect and even to enjoy these songs (I'm speaking primarily of the Light material, you see) more than I did as meticulous studio creations. In particular, "Houses in Motion" and "Born Under Punches" are nearly revelatory, and I say that as somebody who enjoyed these songs before and now loves them. "Punches" gets an interesting deconstruction, letting the main bassline occupy the forefront of the song in the introduction and in large part through the rest, and "Motion" is so hypnotic here it drives me nuts (in a good way). Throw in great performances of (among other things) "Warning Sign," "Cities," "I Zimbra," "Drugs" (cheerful like the one on the first disc, but also keeping the creepy effects of the studio version, making this the definitive version), "Animals" (which is totally transformed in the coda, and while I don't love this version more than the original, I definitely have an affinity for the laid- back ending here), "Life During Wartime" and "Take Me to the River" (which I enjoy a lot more than the Stop Making Sense version), and you have an absolutely necessary listen as far as I'm concerned.

In the end, then, this is so necessary, not only for Heads fans, but also for any pop music fan in general, that the fact that we had to wait so long for a CD issue of this seems in retrospect like an unpardonable crime by the music industry. Even if you don't have an interest in Talking Heads, you should have this; with 33 tracks, representing 28 tracks from the band's first four albums (and two non-album tracks), this really does satisfy the cliche of "Only Talking Heads Album You Need." Pick it up asap if you have any taste whatsoever.

Report this review (#429801)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I must admit i've always liked a few TALKING HEADS songs that have been on the radio over the years but i've never been impressed enough to buy an album until now. I took Slarts advise and bought this double disc recording that is packed full of live tunes from 1977-1981. It's packed because they've expanded the original vinyl double adding tracks from 1978 that were previously left off, and they expanded the 1980-1981 second disc from the "Remain In light" tour. Lots of great pictures and tributes from Rolling Stone (gag) and other rags that have spurned Prog over the years. Of course these guys are in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and I know I sound like I begrudge them but I don't. It's just knowing my favourite bands get ignored by these groups of people from these magazines and boards means to me that they have no credibility whatsoever. I think TALKING HEADS deserve the applause from mainstream media though because of their quirky, artsy, punk flavoured pop songs, I just don't share the same taste that is all. I do think ROXY MUSIC must have had an influence on this band and the fact Brian Eno produced them for a while doesn't hurt.

Man this is a long recording though. I think if your a fan at all you'll love this. And lets face it, it's usually the fans who buy live albums so i'm not surprised at the high rating here. It's a treasure trove really for fans. David Byrne is an unusual yet fantastic front man. I swear he really does appear to be a disturbed individual. I mean for real.This is funny, upbeat and energetic and highly entertaining. For a casual fan like me though 3 stars is my limit.This is a cool recording to have around though I must admit.

Report this review (#451211)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let down by variable sound quality on the source recordings, The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads is otherwise a decent live summation of the early Talking Heads sound. Unlike Stop Making Sense, it doesn't present a whole show, rather than a grab-bag of snippets from shows ranging from 1977 to 1981. On the one hand, this does mean that the album lacks the cohesiveness that a single show would offer. On the other hand, it does give the listener the chance to hear how the band's live sound evolved alongside its studio advances. Frankly, I tend to find that the best material on here is the earliest - in particular, there's a dynamite version of Psycho Killer on here - whereas the group would struggle to recreate some of their later studio weirdness in a live context (though David Byrne gives it a good college try).

Recent rereleases of this expand the track list from an already overlong but just about bearable 17 tracks to a downright ridiculous 33 tracks, which I found downright impossible to sit through.

Report this review (#1335574)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 | Review Permalink

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