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CD Review: Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues, True Stories, Naked

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If you are into Talking Heads and David Byrne, then here is something you will enjoy. I know what you are thinking, “Speaking in Tongues, True Stories, and Naked are old albums, Fumo Like 20 years old.” I know, but what makes these new, in a sense is that they are those DualDisc CDs. On one side is the album itself, the other is a DVD. DualDiscs have been out for a little while, but this is a first for Talking Heads. I got to check out these three CD/DVDs; I was impressed and bummed out and here is why.

To start off with, if you’re into Talking Heads, the music is great. On Speaking in Tongues, the album they peaked with commercially, signature art-school funk pieces like “Burning Down the House”, “Girlfriend is Better” and “This Must Be the Place” are great tunes. An unfinished outtake of “Two Note Swivel” and the alternate version of “Burning Down the House” (previously unissued) are the bonus tracks, which are well worth the purchase of the CD alone.

On True Stories, the companion album to Byrne’s directorial debut of the same name, you have “Love for Sale”, “Wild Wild Life”, and “People Like Us”. The funk is gone and the music has more of a dance/pop feel, very reminiscent of the period, but very unlike Talking Heads. It sounds like they were either trying to sound popular or they didn’t care what they sounded like, which is likely more accurate since Byrne had recorded these songs previously with the cast of his film. Even the album cover is lacking in comparison to all their other releases. The bonus tracks include an extended mix of “Wild Wild Life”, the Pops Staples’ vocal version of “Papa Legba” and the Tito Larriva vocal version of “Radio Head”.

Naked has of course “Totally Nude”, along with “Mr. Jones”, “Cool Water”, and “Sax and Violins” for its bonus track. The music goes back to their experimentation with world rhythms, although the focus is on Latin sounds, foreshadowing Bryne’s solo work on the album Rei Momo.

As for the DVD sides, there are two options you can choose. You can listen to the music again, which here is recorded in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, so if you have the full-on, killer entertainment system at home you can shatter all the glass in your house. The other option gives you the opportunity to see Talking Heads videos, the ones we all saw back when MTV played music videos. “Burning Down the House”, “This Must Be The Place”, “Blind”, “Love For Sale” and “Wild Wild Life”. Sure, these were mostly done in the late ’80s, but compare them to the videos now. Wait, does MTV play music videos anymore?

The idea of dual CD/DVDs might become the new format as record companies desperately try and save themselves by making money reselling products that we already have with features that won’t be easy to burn and pass on. The remastered sound is clearer and sounds great. As for the videos, they were cool when I first saw them, and I still like them now, but I was thinking when El Bicho said, “DVD side,” I thought, lost concert footage or never-shown-before concert footage, or even new footage would have satisfied me. I’m sure as the technology gets better, and they can start squeezing more things onto longer-playing discs these DualDiscs may work out, as for now, I’ll stick with CDs.

And you may ask yourself, which of these should I buy? I recommend Speaking In Tongues, Naked, then check out some other albums, especially the live album Stop Making Sense before downloading a couple of tracks off True Stories because the whole album isn’t worth it.

This ain’t no party, so I’m leaving, babies…FV

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Scott Butki

    I was disappointed with Naked and True Stories – I like their earlier stuff, though.

    I was hoping when I heard about the dual disc format that it would include some bonuses. I might have bought them for that. But if not.. I’ll save my money.