'Naked' surfaced in 1988 and was then an anticipated follow-up to 'True Stories' two years before - such a break was epic at the time as this was pre-Stone Roses/MBV/Scritti Politti/Stereo Mcs. David Byrne had been busy in the interim - working with Ryuichi Sakamoto on the soundtrack to Bertolucci's 'The Last Emperor' and contributing to the soundtrack of Jonathan Demme's road movie 'Something Wild.' The recording of this was quite epic and involved guest musicians (including Kirsty McColl, Johnny Marr, a Pogue)and was recorded in Paris with producer Steve Lillywhite (while the music centred on Byrne's love of world music and a French inflected guitar style).
The Heads had become a studio band following 'Stop Making Sense', which had lead to the popular (if patchy) records 'Little Creatures' (1985) and 'True Stories' (1986). 'Naked' is the best TH album since 'Remain in Light' (1980), though as it's dominated by David Byrne - so probably has more in common with an album like 'Rei Momo.'Taken on its own merits, it's a musically diverse album that fills me full of life when I hear it - perhaps due to the heavy use of brass, though probably more due to the nostalgic associations it evokes.
'Blind' opens proceedings with some brassy-funk that in turn gives way to the gorgeous 'Mr Jones' - which almost makes you want to enrol at a samba class! 'Totally Nude' looks back to the C&W inflections of 'Creatures of Love', but is more succesful and has the same lovely naivety of 'Naked If We Want To.' 'Ruby Dear' has a darker feel, a sense of melancholy that is perhaps influenced by a band splitting? '(Nothing But) Flowers' was memorably quoted in the introduction to Bret Easton Ellis' 'American Psycho' (1991) - which overlooks it's hippy-inflections and earth concerns!
'The Democratic Circus' is the darkest song here, taking its cue from the US political system it's a protest song with an atmosphere closer to early Heads. There are some gorgeous harmonics between Byrne/Weymouth (...& whoever) and supremely violent guitar which recalls something like 'Psycho Killer' or 'Love>Building on Fire' as it predicts someone like Radiohead. The highpoint of the album and the one track I'd pick out for that Heads compilation. Though electronic/synths are generally ditched for this record (as they were for the prior two), they are utilised once again for 'The Facts of Life' - which is a neat electro-rapping song about monkeys and pubic hair! After that the album doesn't surprise, the world music template is adhered to - 'Mommy Daddy You & I' is very catchy though the final three tracks proper are less exciting. The album is perked up by the presence of 'Sax & Violins' from the soundtrack to the 1991 film 'Until the End of the World' (a film that amazes and bores at the same time). The Heads' reformed (also to record some new tracks from the 'Sand in the Vaseline' compilation - 'Lifetime Piling Up' was better btw!)and had to compose a track for an imagined 1999 for Wim Wenders' ponderous movie. 'Sax & Violins' was the result, a fine song that is probably closer to Peter Gabriel territory and is again dominated by Byrne - the soundtrack to 'UTEOTW' is a worthy purchase too (some great songs by Depeche Mode, Julee Cruise, KD Lang/Jane Sibbery, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds & Crime and the City Solution).
As with the prior issues, the second disc of DVD-A stuff does nought for me - though at least you get the videos proper to 'Blind' and 'Sax & Violins' (unlike the 'Remain in Light' issue which had two live performances rather than the vids to 'Once in a Lifetime' & 'Crosseyed & Painless'!). If I was going to pick an album post-'Remain in Light' that wasn't 'Stop Making Sense' it would be 'Naked'.