ARTIST: Talking Heads
YEAR RELEASED: 1982
CHART ACTION: #31 US, #22 UK
SINGLES: Life During Wartime
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Psycho Killer, Memories Can’t Wait, Once in a Lifetime, and basically all of the best tracks from their first four records.
LINEUP: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth. On the second disc (side 3 and 4, or the back half of the stream) Adrian Belew, Busta “Cherry” Jones, Steve Scales, Bernie Worrell, and Dolette McDonald joined the tour. Nona Hendryx sings on a couple tracks as well from their Central Park concert.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Taken from radio appearances and concerts, this is the definitive live album for the early glory years of Talking Heads and shows their evolution from quirky arty new wave band to quirky arty neo funk new wave band.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: As great as their albums were, Talking Heads were just as great live, as this double live set (ultra expanded for CD and streaming) shows. And they were smart in dividing it in two cleanly as well.
The first half of the set featuresthe basic quartet ripping through songs mostly culled from their first two albums (with a single, an unreleased track, and two from Fear of Music). The initial quartet played together so well, with husband and wife Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth holding down the rhythm and back end, allowing David Byrne and Jerry Harrison freedom on guitar and keyboards.
The second half is the ‘big band’ they assembled for the Remain in Light tour. Featuring keyboard whiz Bernie Worrell (who just left George Clinton’s orbit), guitar wunderkind Adrian Belew (adding another layer of arty complexity), and powerhouse vocalist Dolette McDonald, the big band took on the more complicated songs from their third and four album, and enhanced their earlier songs as well with their presence.
This is a great snapshot of the early Talking Heads, when they were raw and hungry and still a chart underdog. Better commercial success would follow, but this may be their career peak.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: At least two complete concerts from the ‘big band” (Rome and Passaic, NJ) are on You Tube and well worth spending the time with them. Especially “Crosseyed and Painless” with the intro.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: As said above, this is ultra-expanded from the 2-record set. But somehow they chopped off the intro for “Crosseyed and Painless”
GRADE A+: It may be one of the best live albums of all time, especially in capturing a band at its peak in at least two eras.