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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Talking Heads Chronology

MOVIE REVIEWS

TALKING HEADS CHRONOLOGY (2011)

Featuring David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth.

Directed by Talking Heads.

Distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment.  109 minutes.  Not Rated.

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Talking Heads Chronology

In the Seventies and Eighties, there was no other group like Talking Heads.  A group of art-school funk-punksters that set CBGBs and eventually the world on fire with their smart mix of world beat, funk, punk and quirky, literate lyrics.

Talking Heads Chronology is a wonderful mix of early live performances, early television performances and snippets from documentaries featuring the group.  If you're a fan of the early Heads, it's all here, the hits and way more of the misses that first turned these art school egghead musicologists extremely unlikely rock stars.  You are able to watch David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison grow up on screen.

Some of the juxtapositions in the TV clips are a little funny with thirty years of hindsight.  Just try to not chuckle at the American Bandstand dancers briefly trying haplessly to groove along to the band's hit cover of Al Green's "Take Me To the River" - and then when the world's oldest teenager Dick Clark showing himself to be totally out of touch by apologizing to Tina Weymouth for mispronouncing her last name.

But while these television performances are cool to have all bundled together, they are not the true gold of the compilation.

The collection is worth having if for no other reason than the fact that it shows the band at the very beginning and at the very end.

The first several songs show a very young Talking Heads giving live performances one and two years before the release of their debut album Talking Heads 77.  Three of these wonderful early rarities were actually recorded at CBGBs ("Psycho Killer," "I'm Not In Love" and a snippet of "With Out Love").  They show the band right before they explode on the scene, full of potential, nervous energy and quirky intelligence.

Then closing the DVD down is the band's one-off 2002  reunion to play "Life During Wartime" for the band's indoctrination in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Over a decade after their last performance together, they still sound tight as hell, making one hope that eventually David Byrne will give in to the constant demand for a reunion tour.

However, as much of a treasure trove of lost performances as this collection may be, it cuts out right as the Heads get their first mega-huge hit, “Burning Down the House.”  Otherwise, Chronology concentrates on the band's first four albums, in which they were just building an audience: 77, More Songs About Buildings and Food, Remain in Light and Fear of Music.

The band’s popular peak – when they had six singles from Speaking in Tongues, four from Little Creatures, three from True Stories and two from Naked – is completely AWOL from this collection.  (I have heard there may be a second volume of Chronology that will cover these years.) 

Therefore, if you want a pretty all-inclusive look at the entire run of the band, don’t throw out your old Storytelling Giant video clips compilation quite yet (particularly if you have the extended DVD version which came with the band's box set), or even your old copy of the concert film Stop Making Sense.  (In fairness, Stop Making Sense also predates the band’s last three albums, so it too cuts off not long after Chronology does, but it does have all of the Speaking in Tongues hits.)

Still, for the serious fan, Chronology is a wonderful grab bag of some amazing music and an interesting history of an incredibly important band whose intelligence and influence is sometimes overlooked twenty-some years after their breakup.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 13, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 13, 2012.

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