Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#13 Talking Heads: Chronology (2011)

I really like Talking Heads. But I came late to the band, as I was actually born in the year of some of the earliest footage on this dvd. Still, considering that I like this music now and didn't listen to it back then, I think it clearly shows its staying power. You didn't have to be there at the time to enjoy it. It's got more going for it than nostalgia. Lead singer David Byrne is still at it today at 61 with both music, books and art installations. All the while still giving off a vibe of being probably the most decent and likable man in the "rock biz". And yes, I think "Stop Making Sense" is one of the best concert films ever.

While "Stop Making Sense" was an amazing looking film, the material on this dvd is much different, but no less interesting. In short: The dvd is a collection of live performances and it takes its title quite literal. It starts at the band's humble beginnings in 1975. Back when phones didn't have video cameras and were not even mobile. When it took extra effort to capture bands on film. But luckily it did happen from time to time. There are songs filmed more or less bootleg style, but also tv footage. The dvd covers their entire career and you see how the film quality improves as the years go by, the venues get bigger and the band grows with additional musicians. And of course their musical development as well.

It feels like a historical document and it's nicely "objective" in its presentation. Besides the illuminating commentary done by the band (obviously not sitting in the same room while doing it) the dvd is free of any know-it-all retrospection. It's presented as-is.

The live collection is 66 minutes long. The bonus material is a 35 minute tv programme (The South Bank Show) and a 9 minute interview with David Byrne - delightfully quirky as he was back then. Not that at ease with the whole situation.

Getting down to brass tax: This collection is a treasure trove for any Talking Heads fan. The varied footage quality just adds to the mood of the whole thing. It has a nice "analogue" feel to it despite it being a dvd (just as "Stop Making Sense" has even on blu-ray).

There is both a standard and deluxe edition of this dvd. The standard also has the bonus material, but the deluxe is constructed as a book containing photos and a long written piece by legendary Rolling Stone music writer Lester Bangs done it 1979. All in all, a real treat. Check it out!

For additional viewing I would - besides "Stop Making Sense" - recommend David Byrne's other film projects, but also the more recent feature film "This Must Be the Place" by director Paolo Sorrentino - starring Sean Penn and with a major cameo by Byrne himself. An odd film, but one that's beautiful and moving and which feels like a painting in motion.

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