1985 Talking Heads
concert film directed by Jonathan Demme
, who would later win an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs
. This film was shot on three successive nights in LA
(once each from stage left
, and center
) and cut together
to look like one performance. Hence it's a highly choreographed
show: no real improvisation
, but tons of fun and energy nevertheless.
This movie was shot by famed cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth (Blade Runner), but the different lighting and stage setups for each song were designed by band frontman David Byrne. He sequences the setlist so that the show gradually builds: Only a boombox accompanies him for Psycho Killer, then only Tina Weymouth comes in to play Heaven. By the time the full band is assembled (including two backup singers, an extra percussionist and synth master Bernie Worrell of Parliament Funkadelic), you can truly appreciate the contributions of each individual member. The little back and forth shuffle they perform in Found a Job as they each get their separate grooves on exemplifies the joy of live music to me.
The DVD includes two 5.1 mixes and an illuminating commentary by Demme and all four core band members. Byrne will tell you how to use the movie as an exercise video and even what the hell he was thinking when he penned those wacky lyrics. My biggest worry was that the music would be inaudible or muffled, but the rerecording engineers did a fantastic job of mixing the commentary so that you can rock out and still learn. Other extras include storyboards, David Byrne interviewing himself in a variety of hilarious costumes, and two full songs: Cities and I Zimbra.
I really miss this band. It's rare that musicians can be so smart, so popular and still so enigmatic. This is a great one to put on at a party, or you can listen closely all alone to hear twisted tales of our wonderful messed-up country.