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Genesis of genius,
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This review is from: Talking Heads: Chronology [DVD]  (DVD)
The claim that this is a career-long appraisal is slightly misleading. Nearly a third of the 18 tracks (some in grainy black and white) come from the pre-Jerry Harrison trio in the mid 1970s, tracks 7-12 see the quartet in the late 1970s and tracks 13-17 provide performances from the expanded line-up from 1980 to 1983. The concluding track is from 2002 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony performance of "Life During Wartime".
The overall standard is excellent, needless to say, even if nothing matches "Stop Making Sense" or the newly-released "Burning Down Rome" concert from 1980. To me though, the real merit is in the wealth of special features. There is a 20-odd page essay/existential rant from Lester Bangs dating from August 1979 which never saw the light of day. To anyone unfamiliar with the great man's style, his approach to topics bears comparison with writers such as Rebecca West and Proust in the sense that this essay is about two subject - Talking Heads and everything else. While the 9 minute interview with David Byrne from 1978 is painful, the South Bank Show from that year is fascinating as is the audio commentary from all four band members (a device also employed on the re-release of "Stop Making Sense" providing affectionate recollection and context for what we see on screen.
In short, what we have is a beautifully packaged document focusing on the earlier years of a group whose evolution from preppy, introverted WASPs into an all-dancing, thrusting multi-racial entourage is one of the most magical stories in music. Enjoy