When I was in school in Michigan, more than 20 of my closest friends and I gathered in the living room of a modest lake house. Past a street paved in snow, and embedded in the woods, we stayed just up the dune from Lake Michigan, at my friend’s garage apartment. You could hear the music ringing from the lakeshore.
Every first Sunday of the month we celebrated the Talking Heads by watching the Stop Making Sense DVD, and proceeding to throw an epic dance party revolving around the Talking Heads projects. That’s just how good this music is.
As monumental pioneers of the new wave genre of music, the Talking Heads released eight studio albums between 1977 and 1988 that blended punk, rock and funk. David Byrne fronted the band beginning in the middle '70s with only Chris Frantz on drums and Tina Weymouth on bass and vocals. They later added Jerry Harrison on keys, guitar and vocals, and consistently incorporated outside musicians in their recordings.
Byrne and the group have developed quite the cult following. The new wave, post-punk enthusiasm mixes well with their cheese-ball performances. Seriously, everyone stage dances while they play an instrument. It’s amazing.
I saw David Byrne at Bonnaroo one year, and I kid you not I left feeling like I had just run a marathon. I danced through the entire show. I just couldn’t stop. It was phenomenal. Although live music is generally more thrilling than a studio album, The Best of the Talking Heads provides a well-rounded presentation of their most well loved tunes. The album is an 18-track experience packed full of every fondest memory of the band’s groundbreaking existence.
The second track on the album, “Psychokiller,” is one of the band’s more mainstreamed songs, most likely due to Weymouth’s universally recognizable bass line. “Take Me To The River” has a similar ring, while “Road to Nowhere” mixes choir style vocals with choppy marching style drums to evoke an epic proportion of empowering emotions.
If you’ve never heard the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House,” you’re missing out. The song has since been remixed and redone enough to lose most of its original significance (and I’m pretty sure this is the song Byrne started in place on the stage at Bonnaroo).
Though a lot of “Best of” albums get a bad rap for misguiding the listener to a band’s “best,” The Best of the Talking Heads is a seamless collection of everything I want to hear when I ask for the Talking Heads. It certainly is the Best of one of the best.