Talking Heads - The Name of this Band is Talking Heads
This is one of those live albums that took on new life in the CD era. The original 1982 double album captured the band live from 1977 to 1981 over 19 tracks recorded up and down the East Coast and in Japan. The 2004 CD reissue adds 14 more, changing this from a document of a great live band to a treasure trove that requires extensive digging to fully grasp. The earliest stuff here tends to shine a bit brighter, as the band is audibly wet behind the ears but still brimming with talent (the album’s cover shows them playing a house party; not the concert halls they’d later conquer). “A Clean Break (Let’s Work),” a sublime song specific to this album, captures the early Heads at their best, spilling punchy guitars over a nimble rhythm section and showcasing David Byrne’s wild, weird vocals before ramming into a dazzling set of solos.
By the dawn of the ‘80s, Talking Heads’ work had become so studio-bred that faithfully reproducing it live was a challenge, one the band rose to by morphing the songs themselves. “Drugs (Electricity),” so woozy and barely there on Fear Of Music, becomes thwacking funk here. Remain In Light opener “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” is eased into; the band playing with its opening riff at length, boosting the song’s layered assembly to greater heights.
Talking Heads released another live album two years later, Stop Making Sense, but it was hardly necessary other than as a companion to their concert film of the same name. Anyone who soldiered through all of this knew the full scope of what the Heads were capable of live, a view that grew wider when it was finally released on CD 22 years later.