Talking Heads Stop Making Sense (Sire/Warner Bros.)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 31, 1999
Stop Making Sense (Sire/Warner Bros.)If bands like Blondie and the Ramones represented the carefree teenage spirit of punk at the tail end of the Seventies, then Talking Heads and Patti Smith were its elder siblings -- art school academics, cynical romantics, intellectual terrorists, punk visionaries. Talking Heads designed new angles in the expression of lyrics and reached the apex of their career on Stop Making Sense. Not only did the Heads have a string of excellent albums in Talking Heads '77, More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear of Music, Remain in Light, and Speaking in Tongues leading up to Stop Making Sense, in the early Eighties they were the best working band in America. Jonathan Demme managed to capture their peculiar and brilliant whimsy in the concert film version of Stop Making Sense, but it wasn't until this "Special New Edition" of the soundtrack that the musical scope of the performance matched the visual intensity. Seven songs from the film have been added to the original nine, nearly doubling the listening experience. "Found a Job," "Naïve Melody (This Must Be the Place)," "Crosseyed and Painless," and the Tom-Tom Club's "Genius of Love" are as inspired as "Psycho Killer," "Slippery People," "Life During Wartime," and the explosive "Girlfriend Is Better." Talking Heads put out some great music after Sense, though it never again had the exuberance that built up to this effort. When they broke up by default, it was a chickenshit slap to the fans' faces -- however successful, these sums were never as great as the whole of its parts. But when Talking Heads rocked, as they do here, they did so with a fierceness and vision that won't be matched anytime soon.