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Talking Heads: Chronology [DVD] 
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Chronology pulls together live performances from across Talking Heads career. It starts with their earliest days at CBGB and The Kitchen in New York City in the mid-seventies, through their breakthrough years in the late seventies and on to global success in the eighties. They completed their last tour in 1983 although they would continue to make very successful albums throughout the eighties before officially breaking up in 1991. The DVD concludes with their reunion performance of Life During Wartime on their induction into the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002. Bonus Features Full audio commentary by David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. 35 minute South Bank Show feature (1979) David Byrne interview (1978)
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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
It starts off with black and white footage from CBGB's when they were a three piece. In fact the first song, 'with our love', isn't even recorded here in full. But the performances are excellent. You can see David Byrne turn from the shy man he was into something else later on. Some footage throughout is black and white (including the Letterman performance at the bands insistence). The quality is always good though. For me the stand-outs are Animals (because its too rarely heard live), Crosseyed and Painless (because with the extended band it just is one of their best live tracks) and the Rock n Roll hall of fame version of Life During Wartime - the only cut here from after 1982 but with a song of the earlier period. Its a DVD that chronicles well a band which grew during their time.
And that would be enough normally to warrant me saying its worth it. But as I have already mentioned the extras are the icing on the cake - two in particular. The first is The South Bank Show from 1979 with Talking Heads. Lasting 35 minutes it has live cuts as well as interviews. Its so insightful into where they were at the time and what their process were. For instance David Byrne with a voice recorder getting different takes of the lyrics to see which inflection worked best. Its a real insight and well appreciated. The other notable extra (there is a David Byrne interview as well) is the audio commentary by the band. They explain a lot of the gigs and give some stories and meaning to the songs. Its obvious they recorded it separately but its well worth exploring.
I was too young to see Talking Heads live. My first experience was watching Stop Making Sense on TV at Christmas when I was in my teens. I stumbled upon it and was blown away. So for me a live DVD like this is something to cherish. The extra's make this even more special. I'd like some later material too but maybe that's something in the future. However, for any fan this is essential.
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