You, me, the music, and me.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

TALKING HEADS The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads

Sire 2SR 3590 (1982)

Most live albums serve a dual purpose; not only do they give the listener an idea of what a band sounds like in concert, they usually function as a sort of career retrospective, collecting the group's hits and fan favourites into an unofficial greatest hits package. The Name of this Band Is Talking Heads goes one step further and features performances from five different concerts between 1977 and 1981, giving the listener a chance to hear the evolution of the Heads' sound over a five-year period.

Side one was recorded live at Northern Studio in Massachussetts and consists mainly of songs from their debut album Talking Heads: 77, including their breakout hit "Psycho Killer". The songs don't sound too different from their studio counterparts, a tribute to the band's live chops as much as to the effective simplicity of their sound. The album cover shows the group playing in someone's living room, which is exactly what this concert sounds like; cozy and intimate.

Side two was recorded two years later at the Capitol Theater in New Jersey and finds the band sounding more aggressive, particularly vocalist David Byrne, slurring and growling his way through songs from the band's slightly more experimental second and third albums. The audience sounds a lot larger at this show, and the band responds with a bigger (yet somehow leaner) sound. They also perform their very first single "Building on Fire", unavailable on any of their previous LP's.

Sides three and four cover the early eighties Heads; the band is now using as many as six additional musicians onstage, including guitarist Adrian Belew, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, and two backup singers. The sound is much more intricate and rhythmic (funky, too) and is reflective of the innovative sounds of their groundbreaking fourth album Remain in Light. Belew in particular shines throughout on some particularly twisted guitar solos.

The Name of this Band is Talking Heads is not only a great live album but a great way to introduce yourself to what was probably America's greatest band at the time; for fans, it's a perfect summation of the group's strongest and most important part of their career.


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