I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.
The CD was issued in 1996. It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.
The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.
There are 18 tracks on the CD all told. Some have to be heard to be believed.
Having reached #66 in this fairly regular series, my mind turned to songs with the word ‘road’ in the title. I would have considered ‘route’ if it wasn’t for the fact that I only have four songs on the hard drive with that particular word in the title…..(and I’ll wager a very decent bottle of wine that none of you out there could get all four at the first attempt).
My mind didn’t go into any sort of overdrive to come up with today’s offering:-
mp3: Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere
Road To Nowhere can boast of being the most successful 45 in the UK for Talking Heads, reaching #6 in October 1985. Indeed, it was the band’s first chart hit over here in four years, as every single released after Once In A Lifetime had stalled a fair distance outside the Top 40. The version on offer today is lifted from the vinyl copy of Little Creatures, the first Talking Heads album to go Top 10 in the UK, which it did on its first week of release in June 1985.
It’s probably no coincidence that Little Creatures was the first new material released by the band on the back of the previous year’s screening of Stop Making Sense, a genuinely ground-breaking concert film that did so much to bring Talking Heads to the attention of a wider audience than ever before, Equally, the fact that Road To Nowhere was supported by a fairly innovative and memorable promo video was also a factor in helping it achieve sales well beyond that of any previous single.
Here’s the thing. I’m not all that fond of it as a piece of music.
Sure, it’s catchy and does do that earworm thing anytime you hear it coming out of the radio on some sort of oldies station. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a novelty song more than anything else and isn’t remotely representative of the band’s output elsewhere (see also, The Lovecats by The Cure). I’ve long been tickled by the notion that folk getting turned onto Talking Heads for the first time in 1985 going out and buying the back catalogue only to be completely bemused by what they were listening to.
The band were never the same after this period in their history, and there’s a great deal of bitterness about it all within the pages of Chris Frantz‘s autobiography, albeit it has to be said that his book is bitter throughout when it comes to most things to do with David Byrne.
Having said all that, giving Road to Nowhere a spin on a turntable for the first time in decades did allow me to pick up just how well it had been recorded, produced and engineered. Oh, and no matter that I’m not a huge fan of it, I’m a bit of a sucker for the way the accordion is used throughout.
Just in case you need reminding, the 2022 edition of the ICA World Cup is now well underway, with the Sunday editions of TVV being devoted entirely to the tournament over the next few months.
I thought it would be worth looking back to the very first tie played in the 2018 edition, as it proved to be a real thriller.
2018 was based entirely on knock-out, unlike this time round where there is an initial group stage. There were 129 ICAs eligible in 2018, which meant two had to go head-to-head in a preliminary round to get the number down to a figure where there could then follow five knock-out rounds in advance of the final.
Here’s what happened…..
#115 : Talking Heads v #93 : Close Lobsters
A transatlantic clash between two of the dark horses for the tournament. The tracks were selected by a combination of coin toss (‘Heads’ for Side A and ‘Tails’ for Side B) and a dice (the number rolled landed on the song. prospect.
Born Under Punches (from the LP ‘Remain In Light’ 1980)
Let’s Make Some Plans (single, 1987)
The match report the following week revealed how it all unfolded.
The 12 noon kick off on Wednesday clearly suited the American art rockers as they raced into a 10-6 lead following the opening exchanges over the first four hours. The Scots beat combo fought back tenaciously, and shortly after 8pm they took the lead for the first time when DG’s contribution made it 15-14. This only seemed to rile the fans of Byrne & co and by half-time, at 6pm on Thursday, they had opened up a substantial lead with the score being 27-20 in their favour.
The Heads came out after the break looking to kill things off and scored the next three goals; the difference was now 10 and seemed unassailable. The Lobsters, however, came back under the cover of darkness with five unanswered goals between 11pm and 4am – the gap was down to five with only the final third of the game left to play.
The boys from the small town a few miles south-west of Glasgow set about their task and momentum seemed to be on their side and three Friday night goals saw the margin down to just one as we entered the final 60 minutes…..during which, incredibly, nobody added to their tally.
The final whistle brought an enthralling and exciting match to a close, with the scoreboard showing :-
Talking Heads 31 Close Lobsters 30
The New Yorkers, despite scoring only one goal in that final third, had managed to hold on. The decisive intervention came at 6.37 pm, with Ian saying ‘Talking Heads. Back of the Net.’
Talking Heads would go on to defeat Massive Attack in Round 1 and Kitchens of Distinction in Round 2 before losing out to The Housemartins in Round 3.
Video may have, allegedly, killed the radio star, but it was video that really made a star out of David Byrne, and by extension, Talking Heads, here in the UK.
The album Remain In Light had featured highly in the end of year round-ups, including #6 with NME and, #1 in Melody Maker. The critics’ soft spot could, in an era of real snobbery about music, be attributed partly to the fact that no singles had been lifted from it. Sire Records took the unusual decision to issue a single more than three months after the parent album had been released. It turned out to be an edited version of one of the upbeat and most accessible tracks from Remain In Light
mp3: Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
I can’t honestly remember when I first saw the promotional video. I know that I tuned it one Thursday evening to Top of The Pops in the hope of seeing it when the single was riding reasonably high in the charts, only to be bemused by the fact that resident dance troupe Legs & Co were offering their interpretation on things. But it must have been shown at least once on the BBC’s flagship show, or perhaps it was aired over on ITV, possibly as a segment on Kenny Everett‘s show which blended music and comedy sketches. It certainly wasn’t on Channel 4 as it hadn’t yet begun to air, and the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1981 on BBC2 wasn’t known for airing promos, preferring live appearances, failing which the song being played to old cartoon silent films from the black and white era.
Whatever and whenever it was, the video got folk talking up and down the country, in schools, colleges and workplaces. It was, back in the day, truly ground-breaking and hugely innovative. The sight of a bespectacled man throwing weird shapes as he worked himself into a sweaty, frenzied trance as he sang the song, made for unforgettable and compelling viewing.
Once In A Lifetime was a slow burner over here. It came in at #63 in the first week of February 1981 on the back of some radio play. I’m guessing that some TV show aired the video that same week, as it climbed 25 places into the Top 40. It then didn’t do all that much for the next two weeks, before it catapulted up to #14, five weeks after its release. It hung around the Top 20 for three weeks, before drifting out of the charts after a near three-month stay.
Remain In Light, despite the love and praise showered on it by the critics, had spent just four weeks on the album chart in November 1980. The success of the single led to a re-entry on the album charts in February 1981, and a thirteen-week stay, which was well beyond any previous amount of success.
There are many instances where the debut single has proven to be the defining moment of a band or singer’s career but more often than not it simply lays down a marker for bigger and better things further down the line. Many years later, said band or singer, having enjoyed an extended career, undergoes an extensive critical reassessment, part of which usually involves a fresh consideration of that crucial debut. I think Talking Heads are a great illustration of what I am getting at.
It was away back in February 1977 that the then trio released Love → Building on Fire as a single. It predated their debut album by more than six months and indeed was already considered such an ‘old’ song that it was left off said debut, albeit it seemed to be part of the regular set list for many years thereafter. The debut LP was the piece of plastic that took a by now four-piece Talking Heads to an audience well beyond the confines of NYC, with songs like Uh-Oh Love Comes To Town, The Book I Read, Don’t Worry About The Government and, above all else, Psycho Killer, making a huge and immediate impact. Most polls which look back at, and list, great debut albums usually have Talking Heads : 77 mentioned somewhere in the piece.
All of which somehow makes Love → Building on Fire (or Love Goes to Building on Fire which has always been easier to type) something of an afterthought when looking back at the band’s career. I first noticed increasing mentions of the debut 45 once it became clear that the band, having broken up, had no intention of ever reforming. It was almost as if those who were penning the valedictory pieces wanted their readers to think or believe that the writer had been ahead of the curve back in 1977 and had predicted or expected greatness and longevity on the back of the first few minutes of music that Talking Heads had ever released. And yes, there were some who argued that the debut was the watershed for the band on the basis that they lost something once they moved out of CBGBs.
It’s all, of course, utter nonsense.
Yes, Love → Building on Fire is a wonderful way to announce your arrival; it’s an entertaining and cracking three minutes of music, which is why I’m featuring it in this series; but Talking Heads would deliver so many better moments over the ensuing years.
mp3 : Talking Heads – Love → Building on Fire
mp3 : Talking Heads – New Feeling
It was a few months ago that Echorich supplied this blog with a very classy ICA on Talking Heads; it was one that concentrated on the band’s first four albums from the debut in 1977 through to Remain In Light in 1980. It was hard to argue with his selections but what was noticeable is that he omitted the single that really brought the band to attention here in the UK thanks to it reaching #14 in the charts in March 1981, some six months after the album had been released.
mp3 : Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
It’s a great and memorable pop song but there’s no doubt its sales were boosted by the promo video – one that back in 1981 seemed so clever, stylish and futuristic as well as containing a quirky but memorable performance from David Byrne.
I had always assumed that the 45 had been massive in America but was astonished to learn that it didn’t dent the Top 100. A short time later it might have been different in that MTV launched in August 1981 and the promo for Once In A Lifetime was on very heavy rotation; but by then the single wasn’t available in the shops albeit it did help the sales of the parent LP. It also set the band up nicely for mainstream success in their home country by the time the follow-up Speaking In Tongues was released in 1983.
To show how unprepared the band and Sire Records were for a hit single in the UK, it was only made available in the 7″ format (with an edited version that was tailor-made for radio) with its b-side also lifted from Remain In Light and thus not really providing an incentive for fans who already owned the album to shell out for the 45:-
mp3 : Talking Heads – Seen And Not Seen
Both sides still sound pretty sensational, modern and vibrant 37 years after they were recorded.
TALKING HEADS ICA – OR THE BAND THAT FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE POP SEA….
Talking Heads are a true foundation of my musical experience.
Growing up in the late 70s NYC, Talking Heads held a certain aura and mystique and offered a true alternative to what was then mainstream Pop and Rock.
David Byrne sang of real dislocation from the expected and “normal” emotions and feelings of society. The band, from the outset was made up of musicians that, to this day, can inspire awe. Byrne’s guitar work is masterful and new, Tina Weymouth’s bass is strong and expansive in its range. Jerry Harrison’s keyboards were often subtle, giving Byrne’s sharp angles some rounder edges and the Chris Frantz percussion was far more than just a metronome to pace their songs.
Their debut, 77 was one of the albums that developed my appreciation for music in ways I find it hard to describe. It opened popular music’s possibilities for me, showing me a band didn’t just have to have one sound, or make records that flowed with a concept cobbled from another art form to be relevant and moving.
Their first 4 albums are very different and equally important in the development of “alternative” pop and rock music entering into the 8os. But then something happened to Talking Heads for me.
By 1980 they were at risk of becoming too big an entity – both in the size of the recording and touring band and in their search for the next sound. Heavy touring from 1979 to 1982 left a band in need of a rethink. What came next, Speaking In Tongues, sounded too much to me like an attempt to be popular. Burning Down The House, while no chart burner, became a radio friendly song that overexposed the band in my eyes. Some of this can certainly be described as sour grapes from a fan who wasn’t ready to share such a closely loved band with the masses, but I think there were also obvious tensions building in the band that would play out over their last four albums. I would find songs on these records I liked, but none mattered in the way the songs on the first four albums did.
Here is my TALKING HEADS ICA built around those first four albums:
The Good Thing – More Songs About Buildings And Food
Many have written of David Byrne’s dissociative tendencies. Some have said it was likely Asperger’s Syndrome, some just say he’s just “a prick.” I think it more a case of his wanting to express his fears, concerns, dreams in the most real way he knew. The Good Thing begins benignly and builds into a defiant growler of a song, laying out a path of life and success that will not be deviated from.
New Feeling – 77
Here we have Byrne in “out of step with everyone and everything” mode. The warped guitar work and wobbly bass are perfect foils to this bit of pop mania.
Paper – Fear Of Music
With each album, the sound of Talking Heads grew and grew. Lots of people want to credit the influence of Brian Eno in these leaps forward, but I think Eno was a real fan and had a lighter touch than many give him credit for. Paper is a monster of political and social paranoia. The musical unit is so tight, it feels like it might break before the first verse of the song is even complete.
Artists Only – More Songs About Buildings And Food
Jerry Harrison is the star of this track, building it out with psychedelic organ that is dark and trippy. Byrne sings as if the mescaline he took has given his entire body an uncontrollable, nervous tick. Tina’s bass and Chris’ drums provide the high speed velocity.
Psycho Killer – 77
The bass line of God. Psycho Killer is a song that I hold close to my heart. It was less than a year since the killing spree of the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz when Psycho Killer came out. I lived not 4 blocks from the next to last of his killing scenes at local discoteque, Elephas, in Bayside, Queens. The events of that killing changed my neighborhood for years. Psycho Killer was the darkest song I had ever heard. The motorik influence of the song brings out the detached nature of the song. Its darkness is still powerful 40 years on.
Life During Wartime – Fear Of Music
Fear Of Music deals with many dystopian issues of society and politics. No song more so than Life During Wartime. It’s a song with lyrics from the margins, underground and clandestine. The urgency of the newly presented Punk/Funk was what got people up on their feet and moving to it. The jam session origins of the song are translated on record into a cohesive, massive sound with the early hints of things to come in one year’s time.
Born Under Punches – Remain In Light
If life was lived in a carnival funhouse maze, then Born Under Punches would be the soundtrack playing over and over as we spent our lives walking into walls and mirrors while we dreamt of our own perfect world. Much of the beauty and complexity to this song and Remain In Light as a whole comes from the likemindedness of Chris and Tina and Brian Eno. They all agreed that the band should make a more democratically structured album and they were all interested in other rhythms and sounds. What came from this and the sessions that followed was a real attempt to fuse Western African Music, Funk and Post Punk – World Music. To this day Born Under Punches manages to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.
The Book I Read – 77
Back to the beginning. I feel side two of 77 is a perfect album side, one of the two best perfect album sides in my mind (ok, side two of Ocean Rain by The Bunnymen is the other). The song that anchor’s that special quintet of songs is The Book I Read. It’s a song about the euphoria of love or the realization of love’s affect. Byrne breaks free of his self imposed emotional boundaries and proclaims to the world, or is it all just in his own mind, what love has done for him.
Found A Job – More Songs About Buildings And Food
Where Talking Heads record their own take on a kitchen sink drama. It may be a commentary on modern culture, modern artists or just a narrative about the creative process, but Found A Job is a massive song. Byrne’s frantic guitar is a thing of beauty, Harrison’s electronic marimba is soothing and Chris and Tina bash out a rhythm to keep up perfectly with Byrnes guitar.
The Great Curve – Remain In Light
Sure, I could have given this ICA a real ender of a song – maybe The Overload, where Talking Heads show their appreciation of A Certain Ratio and Joy Division (no one will ever dissuade me of this opinion), or Pulled Up where 77 ends with a feeling of promise and ecstasy, or maybe Heaven – a song that puts Byrnes lyrics on a par with Leonard Cohen. But I’ve chose to end my picks with some New Wave Gospel. The Great Curve has the energy and trance-like abandon of a Gospel Church service. The expanded Talking Heads is taken full advantage here. Adrian Belew’s treated guitar is stand out and Nona Hendryx adds body to the choral portions of the song. Jon Hassell’s horns are tortured and twisted. The song relies on the different lyrical codas being sung as a round and this vocal layering along with the polyrhythms of the music.
Grim and pale with (heavy) head in hands, I sat in Dan Van Samaritan’s apartment in Utrecht, central Holland on the Monday morning. It was 08.30 and I was due at work in south west England … hundreds of miles away.
Before I’d been shooed away at midnight by the be-whiskered Amsterdam Police; through a fug of tasty smoke, they’d given me the phone number of the British Consulate in The Hague. I pulled the scrap of paper from my pocket. “Right” thought I. “These Union Flag-flying fuckers will sort me out. No problem. That’s what they do, isn’t it?”
I called their number on Dan’s phone. No answer. The Consulate staff weren’t there. My life was already a Dutch Breakfast so I could well do without those lazy sods still nibbling on Gouda and pumpernickel reading their morning Expatica Express.
“Get thyselves sat beneath a portrait of The Queen and help this beleaguered countryman, you work-shy mandarin bastards” I chuntered to myself. I lit a Peter Stuyvesant and tried the number again. Still nothing. Perhaps they were out last night dressed in orange celebrating the first herring of the year, or something?
Half an hour later, I finally extracted a gruff ‘Hullo’ from a she-male voice at the other end.
It was the cleaner!
It transpired that Her Majesty’s Ambassador and all his merry civil service men were not in the office that morning due to what she called ‘a Training Day’. I vented my spleen toward the damduster-wielding dutchwoman. I was beside myself. (In-cand-escent and in-de-shit). She sympathised with my plight; understanding my acute frustration and desperation, but unable to offer any advice other than, ‘Continue to the port sir, and hope that your passport is there waiting’.
OK. South I go to bloody Belgium then. It can’t be that far from here can it?
By the way, the coach I had missed in Amsterdam had long since arrived in England. Unbeknownst to me however, my friend had been given a hard time by UK Customs at Passport Control. “And which one are we today then sir?” he’d been asked as he wielded 2 passports and a likely story.
Anyway, I got on a local bus full of Holland’s finest old cloggy women and headed towards the nearest motorway junction.
mp3 : Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere
Back on the main Highway, out came my map, anorak, thumb, and my metaphorical Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Benelux Blues. The drizzle lowered in the Lowlands. After half an hour, a car pulled over. It was clearly an ‘Ok ya, company car’. An unwashed black Audi with 4 tell-tale ironed shirts hanging in the back.
Herman the Sales Rep listened to my tale of woe. He was heading to Eindhoven for a Plastics Convention. A city I knew only as the home of a football team called PSV and the Philips Lighting Company. Herman seemed friendly enough. (But then, Jack The Ripper was probably a right charmer on first meeting). We chatted over the next hour or so and I told him my tale. He shook his head in disbelief.
I mentioned the beer, and the cold, the lack of ID and money, Amsterdam, and the missed coach home. I told him that I was serving in the Air Force and that my bollocks would be lightly poached as I was late back on duty.
mp3 : XTC – The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead
Then, in a truly bizarre coincidence, as we passed Eindhoven, he had the most wonderful lightbulb moment!
The nearest RAF Station was not far across the Dutch/West German border.
“That’s it. That’s where we can go!” declared Herman.
In 1984, RAF Brüggen was a major NATO base in a Cold War world – where a certain apocalyptic Nuclear War was just around the next bunker. Two Tribes, Greenham Common, Threads, Reagan, Thatcher, CND, Protect and Survive, Cruise and Pershing missiles. Why, even painting the windows white and sitting under the kitchen table wouldn’t save you.
This Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) meant we were doomed – the lot of us. In fact, the only undecided thing was how you were gonna spend your final 4 minutes; prior to kissing your ass goodbye.
Aaah, happy days!
Anyway, I digress. Herman agreed to take me across the border into Germany and onto the RAF base. As a Sales Executive, he knew the way like the back of his leather-bound filofax.
‘If you don’t get home safely, I’m a Dutchman’ he vehemently declared.
“Aren’t you the funny fucker?” says I.
We crossed the manned National Border, with him flashing Fritz a Buisiness card and me a crazed inane grin – with thumbs up like Selwyn Froggitt. On a road through a forest, we approached the sprawling air base, negotiating speed-calming barbed wire chicanes flanked by armed guards. We could see the Hardened Aircraft Shelters. Fierce German Shepherds prowled the perimeter fence. How ridiculous they looked with their crooks, dressed in their woolly waistcoats and leather shorts. (Only joking, I mean Alsatian-type dogs really).
At the RAF Brüggen main gate, Herman came into his own with sales waffle a-gogo. Thankfully, the airman on guard duty wasn’t the pointiest bullet in the magazine. His tin hat was on the wrong way round. (‘Must be a chef in his day job’ I thought). For all he knew, I could have been a Yorkshire-based Soviet Stasi SuperSpy. (I had no ID and he had no idea). With a salute from him and a weary wave from me, we were in. A high security top-secret base with the largest Tornado aircraft force in NATO had been infiltrated by a Dutchman saying, “I have come to check the vending machines in the NAAFI” and me – a scruffy youth in a borrowed lime green anorak.
And so, now on the Camp, and en route to Station HQ, it was then very strangely that my ears began to bleed. Herman pointed it out to me as he parked up. It had bever happened before (or since). Dan Van Samaratin’s rain jacket would never be the same again and my white ‘Tube Station’ T-shirt sported fresh claret blobs. Herman passed me a wet wipe with ‘Currywurst’ printed on it. With ears dribbling, I tried to compose myself and rehearsed my story in my fat head.
I introduced myself to a clot of a Corporal in Personnel Services. Seeing the blood, he quickly realised it was above his pay level and found me a Warrant Officer. And, if Rottweillers had hats then he’d be one. At this point, Herman motioned that it was time for him to leave. I thanked him – woefully insufficiently – and he was gone. Rotty with a blue beret took me to a room where I regaled him with bumbling tales of lager and London and Leeds United. Throughout my desperate report, I remember how he took phone calls about bonfires and sausages and fireworks. (It was the 5th of November). Here I was, at my tether’s end, whilst he considered the merits of a good Catherine Wheel.
So here’s the plan: Issued with a Temporary ID card and an Advance of Pay to cover costs home, I take a lift to Mönchengladbach in a mini-bus full of bonfire-going kids. There I catch a train through what’s left of Germany and across The Netherlands to the Hook of Holland. Overnight Ferry to Harwich. Train to Waterloo. Train to Salisbury. Taxi home. Bollocking from work. Re-union shag with girlfriend. Phone call to relieved mother. Two-way tales with passport-holding mate. Food. Sleep.
Through the damp suib of a German Bonfire Night, I hurries to the train station for the 19.30 Deutsche Bahn (that’s German for ‘a big train’), relieved that I had escaped the jaunty jabberings of a dozen excited under-10s eating sausages. (Bratwursts/Worstbrats).
I’d been given an advance of pay in cash. Exactly 138 Deutsche Mark – to cover the whole fare from Monchengladbach to Salisbury.
I asked for a ticket and the frau behind the counter told me the price …
“That is 143 Marks please”.
“Surely some mistake?” I argued.
“Nein. The price it has risen last veek”.
“Shit. Bollocks. Fuck”. A queue built up behind me.
“Can I leave you my name and address? I twitched. Can you take my watch instead?”
Sensing my desperation (along with the fact that if I were to throw myself under the train there would be an interminable delay – even by über-efficient German suicide-mopping-up standards), the woman behind me in the queue stepped forward and offered to pay the 5 DM difference.
“Oh, thank you. Danke, muchos” I babbled, as I went to hug her … but as she recoiled, I thought better of it!
I made it onto the train and felt like Richard Attenborough in The Great Escape. All I needed was the Trilby hat and a pair of specs made from old German milk bottles. The ‘funny look’ from the Guard as he checked my ticket added to the ‘squeeky bum’ moment. We shake, rattle and rolled all the way to the west coast port of Hoek van Holland
(Cue ‘Homeward Bound’ by Paul Simon you may be thinking? Too obvious, dear reader. We don’t just throw this blog together you know).
Unsurprisingly, I puked all the way across The Channel. So much so that I expected any chewy bit to be my own anus. The sea was as rough as an unkempt bear’s arse. (Is there anything worse than not having a cabin and clutching a pissy public porcelain pot for hours and hours?)
Anyway, I can see you glazing over at the back dear reader. Suffice to say, I continued across Britain in shabby vagrant style and arrived home to my accommodation block on the Tuesday afternoon in one piece.
Many were relieved to see me. (‘Cept the bloke next door who’d had his eye on my portable TV). Why, I even went on to marry the girl waiting for me. Aaaah!
mp3 : Paul Weller – In Amsterdam (By a strange twist of fate, this is from his new album!)
Dick Van Dyke, 16 May 2010
Almost four years on and I still can’t believe nobody has snapped up the film-rights to this tale.
Over the years I’ve asked DvD to consider becoming a regular contributor to the blog(s). Hopefully one day….
David comes out on bare stage with acoustic guitar and portable cassette player which provides rhythm. During ending, David does spastic dance which uses the whole empty stage. Tina’s bass rider is wheeled out. Stage crew are all black overalls. Drum riser is wheeled out…
Chris joins at drums. Jerry joins playing guitar. A keyboard riser is wheeled out. Ednah and Lynn sing backing vocals. Steve comes out….plays bongos. David does a ‘duck’ dance. Percussion riser wheels out. Alex joins playing guitar. Rear projection screen comes down very slowly. Bernie comes out. David does knock-knee dance at end.
Second keyboard riser has been wheeled out. Bernie begins song. ‘Jogging’ dance and #Indian-snake’ dance. David runs around the stage at the end of this song. Red slides with words…..
That’s the description to the opening sections of the movie Stop Making Sense provided within the booklet which accompanied the 1999 CD re-release. It remains the only concert-movie that I’ve ever made an effort to go and see at the time of release, doing so at the Edinburgh Film Theatre in 1984….why I chose to see it in Edinburgh rather than Glasgow I can’t remember. What I do know is that I was so mesmerised by it that I went back to see it again the next night in my home city.
It was a concert film unlike any other. No close-up shots of the audience nor of the musicians playing solos. No attempt to hide the fact that the road crew were an important an integral part of the show. The band re-arranged a number of the songs and in doing so turned them into what many Talking Heads fans consider to be the derivative versions.
One unforseen outcome however, was the attention focussed on the parts played by David Byrne at the expense of those other long-standing members, a situation that was to lead to ever-increasing friction and the effective break up of the band within five years.
Thirty years on from its filming in Los Angeles in December 1983, Stop Making Sense remains a highly impressive piece of work. And some of soundtrack still hold up well today:-