Morning Music: Talking Heads Live in Rome

Talking HeadsI remember in 1995, a student of mine telling me the only good thing about the internet was porn. He wasn’t actually making the case for porn; he was more making the case that the internet sucked. He was largely right. But today, the internet really is an amazing thing. In the old days, there would be little gems that people would have. For example, one guy I knew had a cassette he recorded off the radio of three tracks Talking Heads had recorded back in 1975 when they were still a trio. Now, just enter “Talking Heads Demo” into Google and it’s right there. Listen to Psycho Killer.

This doesn’t just apply to Talking Heads, of course. Last week I featured a set of Jules and the Polar Bears that I would have killed for a couple of decades ago. The same is true of the following video, “Talking Heads: Live in Rome.” It captures the band at the height of its power. But I will admit that Adrian Belew is too prominent and should have been mixed down. He does spoil the organic feel of some of the music because he becomes a lead instrument and there really isn’t a lead instrument on either Fear of Music or Remain in Light.

Still, it’s nice to have and quite enjoyable. I like it more than Stop Making Sense which is just too pretentious for me at this stage in my life. Plus, the songs are weaker.

4 thoughts on “Morning Music: Talking Heads Live in Rome

  1. Demme is sort of an ass. I do still love “Something Wild” and the opening of “Melvin & Howard,” though.

    Belew redeems himself with his playing at the end during “Curve.” Up until then he sticks out as being the least sexy person onstage. He’s less sexy than David Byrne, which is quite the accomplishment. Byrne has multiple talents; sexiness is not one of them. Not when you’ve got Tina Weymouth and Steve Scales on the same stage.

    A wonderful video. Thanks, I needed that.

    • After I wrote that I thought I might have been unclear. My problem was not with Belew but with the mixing of Belew. It’s just wrong.

      I like Demme. He’s a solid director. It’s the show itself that I find pretentious. I saw Talking Heads twice during that tour. The random words on the screen, the big suit, I don’t know. On the other hand, I thought bringing on the band in that way was brilliant.

      • I was a huge fan of Demme back in the day. Something happened to him. How could the guy who portrayed class resentment so wonderfully in his earlier movies come up with something like “Rachel Getting Married,” where we’re meant to look down the character who despises all the easygoing affluence around her?

        As Thomas Frank (him again!) has pointed out, most liberals aren’t the snobbish elite cartoonishly presented by Limbaugh; most liberals are dead broke and grousy. If you had to pick one movie to show conservatives to validate all their fears about liberals, “Rachel Getting Married” would be the one.

        The director who reminds me most of early Demme is Sean Penn. He’s not in Demme’s class as a filmmaker; he doesn’t know how to frame an image cinematically. But “Into The Wild” had the kind of grace towards its working-class characters that Demme used to.

        I guess I always assumed anything to do with Byrne would be pretentious; he’s just that way. It’s like Michael Stipe wearing idiotic costumes on stage, just part of the package you hopefully ignore.

        The bit in the movie which rubs me wrong is the mostly-single-shot version of “Once In A Lifetime.” It’s a great song, but it’s too calculated as a highlight in the film. Although it may have been that way on the tour as well (I didn’t go to my first concert until a year or so after the band broke up.) My favorite moments in concerts were always the songs I’d never liked that a band was able to show in a different way. And encores always annoy me. Not the encore itself, the pretend ending before the encore. Just say “we’re taking a last break before the end,” don’t walk off like you’re done and leave all the lights down. Who started that tradition?

        • I must admit to not knowing what Demme has done since Silence of the Lambs. I don’t get out that much. I too was very taken with Something Wild. And, of course, Melvin and Howard.

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