Thursday, January 1, 2009

Talking Heads, "A Clean Break"

First, a Happy New Year to the Empoprise-MU readers.

Have you ever heard the Talking Heads live album The Name of This Band is Talking Heads? It's not a chronicle of a live performance, but actually songs from several different live performances over the first few years of their career, ranging from the quirky group that haunted New York to the "Remain in Light" crowd of people running all over the stage. The progression makes for an interesting listen.

One of the early songs on the album is "A Clean Break," which can be found on here. There's also (presently) a YouTube video that shows some still pictures of the band.

There is a Crawdaddy review of an expanded re-release of the album, but some of Crawdaddy's comments apply to the original version we know and love.

Overall, it carries a meticulous introduction to early Heads material, including 1977’s Talking Heads: 77, 1978’s More Songs About Buildings And Food, and Fear Of Music, the 1979 masterpiece produced by Brian Eno....

Discarding theatrics for pure energy, Talking Heads undressed pretension and the expectations of typical CBGB fare, allowing each note to attack the flesh on its own....

The first disc of this set details four live performances from the first two years of Talking Heads. From conception, their goal was to foster something crooked and ultimately poignant; Chris Frantz has said that they set out to “change the way people assumed a rock band should look and sound.”

“New Feeling” launches the album with a bitter trail of cymbals that finds relief in David Byrne’s grainy maw, while its springy guitar riff and tumbling bass line sound steep and clear. Thankfully, Ed Strasium’s mixing never feels strained, aided by the skill of the Heads, who are beautifully in form from the beginning. “A Clean Break” simply succeeds in Byrne’s ability to recognize the limits of his voice. “The Big Country,” the first of many solid additions to the original release, is a lopsided gallop into the furious reverie, “I’m Not In Love.” “Love” is hyper and disturbed, on the brink of losing control. In fact, most of The Name is sharp and spastic.

The Name of This Site is Talking Heads adds another perspective.

The double live LP 'The Name Of This Band' was released in 1982, after the release of solo albums by David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, and The Tom Tom Club.

With no likelihood of a Talking Heads reunion that year and growing rumours that the band was done for, Sire released this live album, made up of performances from different stages in the band's career. But if 'The Name...' bought time between records, it also ingeniously combined two staples of the pop music industry: the live album and the 'greatest hits' collection. By putting the two together and placing the songs in some historical perspective, the Heads called attention to their own process of growth and creativity. The album seemed more a valuable historical document than the 'greatest hits' collections of most peers, which looked like easy-money corporate hustles.

The first disc chronicled the original quartet and its quirky new wave songs, including the previously unreleased "A Clean Break" and the previously single-only "Building on Fire."

Good stuff...and that's only the first part of the album.

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