[Review] Talking Heads: The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads (1982)

Live material from three different tours makes for the perfect Heads compendium.

Kronomyth 5.0: A good name is a second inheritance.

While Talking Heads were off doing their own thing, their record label decided to package a career-spanning live double album. The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads is a live history lesson that follows the band from the small clubs of 1977 to the arenas of 1981. Along the way, you hear the band’s music evolve from the twin guitars of New Feeling and A Clean Break to the 10-piece ensemble of Crosseyed and Painless.

The long view of their live performances is an interesting one. I can’t recall another album that took the same five-year-plan approach of blending live concerts together. The recordings are also surprisingly clean, which allows this to function as a kind of greatest hits album as well. The early recordings actually sound better here (e.g., Pulled Up, Artists Only). The 1980/81 concerts are different due to the larger lineup, but you’re not going to hear me complain about extra guitar solos from Adrian Belew.

Like the album cover to More Songs About Buildings and Food, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads is a composite of snapshots. Not a single shot is unflattering; from every angle, Talking Heads impress. In 2004, the album was remastered and an additional 16 tracks were added to complete the picture of the original shows. You might think that 33 live tracks from Talking Heads is too much, but you’d be mistaken. In fact, it may be the single best way to experience the band, especially if you grew disillusioned with the second chapter of their career.

Original 2LP version

A1. New Feeling (David Byrne) (3:10)
A2. A Clean Break (David Byrne) (4:57)
A3. Don’t Worry About the Government (David Byrne) (3:08)|
A4. Pulled Up (David Byrne) (4:08)
A5. Psycho Killer (David Byrne/Tina Weymouth/Chris Frantz) (5:34)
B1. Artists Only (David Byrne/Wayne Zieve) (3:48)
B2. Stay Hungry (David Byrne/Chris Frantz) (4:00)
B3. Air (David Byrne) (4:08)
B4. Building on Fire (David Byrne) (3:36)
B5. Memories (Can’t Wait) (David Byrne) (3:58)
C1. I Zimbra (David Byrne/Brian Eno/Hugo Ball) (3:33)
C2. Drugs (David Byrne) (4:47)
C3. Houses In Motion (David Byrne/Christ Frantz/Jerry Harrison/Tina Weymouth/Brian Eno) (7:00)
C4. Life During Wartime (David Byrne) (5:03)
D1. The Great Curve (David Byrne/Chris Frantz/Jerry Harrison/Tina Weymouth/Brian Eno) (6:58)
D2. Crosseyed and Painless (David Byrne/Chris Frantz/Jerry Harrison/Tina Weymouth/Brian Eno) (7:05)
D3. Take Me to the River (Al Green/Mabon Hodges) (6:43)

Expanded 2CD version
A1. New Feeling
A2. A Clean Break
A3. Don’t Worry About the Government
A4. Pulled Up
A5. Psycho Killer
A6. Who Is It?
A7. The Book I Read
A8. The Big Country
A9. I’m Not in Love
A10. The Girls Want to Be with the Girls
A11. Electricity (Drugs)
A12. Found a Job
A13. Mind
A14. Artists Only
A15. Stay Hungry
A16. Air
A17. Love – > Building on Fire
A18. Memories Can’t Wait
A19. Heaven
B1. Psycho Killer
B2. Warning Sign
B3. Stay Hungry
B4. Cities
B5. I Zimbra
B6. Drugs (Electricity)
B7. Once in a Lifetime
B8. Animals
B9. Houses in Motion
B10. Born Under the Punches
B11. Crosseyed and Painless
B12. Life During Wartime
B13. Take Me to the River
B14. The Great Curve

The Players

David Byrne (vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Jerry Harrison (keyboards, guitar, piano, backing vocals, synthesizer), Tina Weymouth (bass, backing vocals, synthesizer, percussion) with Adrian Belew (guitars, backing vocals), Nona Hendryx (vocals), Busta Jones (bass, guitar), Dolette McDonald (backing vocals, percussion), Steve Scales (percussion), Bernie Worrell (clavinet, backing vocals). Produced by Talking Heads; engineered by Rod O’Brian, Dave Hewett, Kooster McAllister, Katshuiko Sato; engineering assistance by Brian Eno; mixed by Talking Heads, Butch Jones.

The Pictures

Design by M&Co., New York. Cover photos by John Dalton, Lynn Goldsmith.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP and 2CS in March 1982 in the US (Sire, 2SR/2SR5 3590), the UK (Sire, SRK2 3590), Brazil (WEA, 260778) and Yugoslavia (Suzy, ULP1053) with picture innersleeves. Reached #31 on the US charts and #22 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-released on expanded, remastered 2CD on August 17, 2004 in the US (Sire, 76489 with 16 bonus tracks.

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