BY A.D. AMOROSI
Audiences today who never
witnessed Talking Heads at their full force might miss the nuances yet there a
huge differences between the David Byrne of today and the band he helped form
despite the fact that Ride Rise Roar looks mostly at the Byrne/Eno/Heads period that made them infamous.
The Everything That Will Happen Will Happen Today tour of 2008/2009
(that album was a Byrne/Eno collaboration) was a spare, bright white
re-enactment of the then-new recording along with their finest moments recorded
before the 21st Century’s turn.
Ride Rise Roar captures the
movement focused spectacular as if looking at a Merce Cunningham modern dance
production rather than a concert. It’s not as if the Head-y music is secondary;
it simply seems airier in this video re-production. The dense funk of T-Heads
classics such as “Once in a Lifetime, “I Zimbra” and the oozing “Houses in
Motion” come across as lighter and silken than in their original form. That’s
fine. But it’s in no way a replacement for the spine-curving art-meddling murk
of the Heads at their peak.
In its deluxe version (with a
48-page hard-cover book with photographs and an essay by Lester Bangs) Chronology is the very best testament to
pre-‘80s Byrne, Harrison, Frantz and Weymouth with nods to the days of CBGB and
The Kitchen (grainy live clips of the squeaky twitching “With Our Love,” “I’m
Not In Love” and “Psycho Killer” from 1975), their hits, their finale and even
the uncomfortable reunion performance of “Life During Wartime” when Talking
Heads was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002.
If you’re looking for something
glossy, don’t bother. There’s found footage from an old fan (in a dressing
room?) for the swiftly eerie “Found A Job” and its initial large-band forays
into Caucasoid funk with “Crosseyed and Painless.” While bonus episodes feature a 35-minute 1979
British South Bank Show doc and a lengthy Byrne interview from 1978, the find
really is the rough sound and raw vision of the entire package. Makes you want
for more. That’s a good sign.