12. Talking Heads, 71 Minutes In 76
|(cd boot; no label or release date, though per title, all the music is from 1976)|
Picked up from a vendor who comes in from CT and sets up shop in the Bard student center a couple times a semester. This will be trainspotty, but for what other reason do quasi-releases like this exist? 15 live-in-the-studio or nearly so demos by the trio line-up, done for CBS, I gather, and then 4 live cuts w/ Jerry Harrison, a bit later, from Max's. Notable that, of the songs demo'd, one more is from Buildings and Food (6), than 77 (5). (Also essayed: "Sugar on My Tongue," and "I Wish You Wouldn't Say That," which have never really fit into the corpus for me, and "Love --> Building on Fire," which along w/ "Psycho Killer" itself, is the tune that sounds most underfed w/o 2nd gtr. There's also one title u/k cut, u/k to me as well, but very much of a piece w/ the pre-77 material. "Stay Hungry" seems to have been heavily rewritten over the next two years, w/ some rhythmically opaque transitions worthy of Send Me A Lullaby dropped. (Oh, yeah -- speaking of Robert Forster....) Neither "Don't Worry About the Government" or "The Big Country" appear -- had Byrne even thought to apply his brand of blank irony to social commentary as well as bubblegum at this point?
As to the arrangements and performances, pretty eh as far as sonics go, with a couple of very dated chorus effects (which sound weirdly flatulent applied to Weymouth's bass) as nearly the only adornment. Many ideas (inst. hooks, textures) in which one might have heard Eno's on B and F are, in fact, implicit in the trio parts. Frantz might as well be drumming to some future, more powerful performance the other parts of which exist only as possibilities, Weymouth is just a hair tentative in execution but the parts are great, and even though I don't think anyone's going to call Byrne, now or then, the clarity of his conception as a rhythm player belies the spazziness of the persona projected vocally. This isn't something you realize as a kid: at 14, I was obviously drawn to the misfit aspect of the band, and (though I wouldn't have put it this way) that whatever personal or political tensions were driving the music were not filtered though a threateningly working-class self-presentation. Now I mainly note that the structures are extremely sturdy, as they have to be to contain the vocal phrasing.
Pretty tuff, but y'know, it's no "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa."