Half Notes: Talking Heads – The Name of this Band Is … (1982; reissue)

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by Tom Johnson

A definitive entry in the Talking Heads’ catalog this was somehow out of print at one point for, what, nearly two full decades? I was lucky enough to stumble upon a bootleg copy of the vinyl a while back but the sound quality was pretty rough; there was no doubt it came from a well-loved copy of the vinyl. Then, in 2004, Rhino reissued this amazing live compilation spanning the years 1977-1981 with a whole slew of bonus tracks, filling out both discs to near-capacity. The sound quality was stunning throughout, as is to be expected.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Adrian Belew talks about the future of King Crimson, his brilliant orchestral reimaging of ‘e,’ and attending the Frank Zappa School of Rock.]

The 1977 material, tracks 1-7 of disc 1, surprisingly possessed a clarity that is unmatched on the rest of the set. Disc 2 comprises 1980-81, but is sequenced in such a way that it flows as an example of one single concert on that tour. Though featuring a greatly expanded band (including guitar wiz Adrian Belew and keyboard maestro Bernie Worrell, among other notable names), the band actually sounds tighter somehow. The extraneous musicians seemingly caused David Byrne and Co. to tighten the reins even more than might seem possible for their already minimalist sound, resulting in a band with a lot of texture and little to no excess. Not only is this a great companion to the impressive Stop Making Sense, it’ll likely wind up being the superior live document of the Talking Heads.

Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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