Talking Heads: “Burning Down the House” (1983)

The recently re-attached Heads byrne up the charts with this hot little number.

Kronomyth 6.1: Fahrenheit 45.

David Byrne took the man-on-fire theme to its logical conclusion on Burning Down the House. Musically and visually (in the video directed by Byrne), the song is a continuation of “Once in a Lifetime,” minus the African influences that Brian Eno brought into the equation. While hardly conventional, “Burning Down the House” did signal a more commercial direction for Talking Heads, perhaps as a result of the success that Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth enjoyed in Tom Tom Club.

The 7-inch and 12-inch singles featured various tracks from the album Speaking in Tongues, including the extended cassette-only versions of Slippery People, I Get Wild/Wild Gravity and Moon Rocks. The idea of putting unique material on cassette was short-lived and coincided with the advent of compact disc technology. I’m not sure if the idea was to make cassettes a more attractive alternative for buyers, but it’s fallen to CD technology to rescue these lost tracks on expanded remasters.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Burning Down the House (4:00)
B1. I Get Wild/Wild Gravity (4:06)

Original 12-inch single version (UK)
A1. Burning Down the House (4:00)
A2. I Get Wild/Wild Gravity (long version)
B1. Moon Rocks (long version)

Original 12-inch single version (GER)
A1. Burning Down the House (4:00)
B1. Slippery People (long version) (5:03)
B2. I Get Wild/Wild Gravity (long version) (5:14)

Promotional 12-inch single version (US)
A1. Burning Down the House (4:00)
B1. Pull Up the Roots (5:08)
B2. Slippery People (cassette version) (5:03)

All songs written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison and Tina Weymouth.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch and 12-2inch single in July 1983 in the US (Sire, 7-29565), the UK (Sire, W 9565/(T)), Canada (Sire, 92 95657), Germany (Sire, 9201 310) and Japan (Sire, P-1789) with regional picture sleeve. Also released as promotional 12-inch single in 1983 in the US (Sire, PRO-A-2046). Reached #9 on the US charts (charted on July 30, 1983 for 20 weeks).

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