Talking Heads: Jerry Harrison (vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer); David Byrne (vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass instrument, percussion); Tina Weymouth (guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, bass instrument, percussion, background vocals); Chris Franz (keyboards, drums, percussion).
Additional personnel include: Brian Eno (guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, background vocals); Adrian Belew (guitar); Bernie Worrell (synthesizer); Robert Palmer (percussion); Nona Hendryx (background vocals).
Recording information: 1977 - 1988.
This live album was originally released as a double LP in 1982, when the Talking Heads were still extremely active. Twenty-two years later, the bonus-laden, two-CD reissue serves as a fascinating in-concert document of the phases the band went through during its first five years. The late-'70s tracks on the first disc show the early version of the band in all its geeky glory, mixing spastic New Wave quirkiness, funk rhythms, and art-school lyrics. It's intriguing to hear the difference between some of the songs' inception and their eventual recorded versions, such as a relatively straightforward "Electricity (Drugs)," which would turn ominous and atmospheric on FEAR OF MUSIC.
The second disc captures the expanded, early-'80s version of the band, with extra musicians and backing vocalists in tow, tackling the fugue-like art-funk masterpieces of the aforementioned album and REMAIN IN LIGHT. It's all the more impressive to hear the interlocking of the guitars, keyboards, and percussion achieved without the benefit of studio overdubbing, and David Byrne's near-manic intensity is even more focused and affecting in the live setting. Even vinyl freaks/Heads maniacs who hung on to the original LP for two decades will need to get this, if only for the wealth of indispensable bonus tracks.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (p.147) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[S]howing off not only the Heads' acerbic intelligence but their flesh-and-blood force and humor."
Entertainment Weekly (p.127) - "[A] gem....This two-disc set captures the punk attitude, brittle R&B vamps, and quirky lyrical trips of their early years." - Grade: A
Uncut (p.130) - 5 stars out of 5 - "[T]errifically thorough....[With] a previously unreleased and mesmeric nine-minute 'Born Under Punches'."
Magnet (p.97) - "[M]uch richer than 1984's STOP MAKING SENSE, capturing the concert highlights of a and that's wilder, fiercer and more soulful onstage than on any of its studio albums."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.127) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A]n admirable document of the Talking Heads' in-concert evolution from jittery, lean new wave to powerhouse post-punk-funk."