Talking Heads - Fear of Music 
Music Disc Reviews DualDisc
Written by John Sutton-Smith   
Tuesday, 10 January 2006

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Aah, the yelp, the giddy-up, the rhythmic stutter. How unexpectedly refreshing it is to hear the Talking Heads again after all these years – a band whose work has been disturbingly off the radar screen in comparison to the depth and breadth of their influence ever since, even today in the likes of Bloc Party, Arcade Fire and others.

When the Heads arrived at NY’s CBGB’s and on college radio with the zany, “look out ma, I’m going crazy” high-pitched squeals of “Psycho Killer,” it was a wild sensory ride for the mind and body, and an arty-alternative to the Ramones’ and the U.K.’s anti-intellectual punk insurgence.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, the band – David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and ex-Modern lover Jerry Harrison – is now celebrating their 30th anniversary with a deluxe DualDisc upgrade of their catalogue, featuring new DVD-Audio Surround Sound mixes personally supervised by Harrison. And the first three of the eight albums – Talking Heads: ’77, More Songs About Buildings and Food, and Fear of Music – sound as fresh and exciting as I remember them then.

Before fully immersing himself in the big bands and polyrhythmic explorations of the next few albums, Byrne worked in the punk rock construct: with an energetic intellect, fierce passion and plenty of angst, he placed the Heads somewhere in between Sparks and the Stooges in the new wave era of the day. These early albums display the unbridled creative confidence and sheer brilliance of their early work.

As much as anyone, the Talking Heads, full of sensory and rhythmic ambition, are a welcome and much belated addition to the sonic upgrade circuit.

The audio is vastly improved, Eno’s production work on the latter two albums benefiting in particular. Each disc contains complete album tracks and bonus cuts re-mastered in high-resolution stereo on its CD side, while the DVD programming on the reverse side offers the audio tracks in 5.1 surround sound mixes by E.T. Thorngren; all the sonic upgrading was overseen by Heads’ Jerry Harrison. I have to tell you, they sound great. Can’t wait to hear Remain in Light.

Extra Features
While these audio upgrades are crisp and clean and Fear of Music probably sounds better than it ever did, it’s some of the extras that are the real find here for longtime fans, including various B-sides and previously unreleased outtakes on the CD side, and a number of never-before-seen live video clips on the DVD side. Highlights include delightful alternate versions of "Cities," "Life During Wartime" and "Mind" from Fear of Music, a countrified version of "Thank You For Sending Me an Angel" from More Songs About ... , and an acoustic “Psycho Killer” on the debut disc.

As befits a group of ex-art school wonks, the packaging is suitably stylish, with glossy 16-page booklets, including new notes, comments and pictures.

Artist Talking Heads
Album Fear of Music
Format Dualdisc
Release Year 2005
1st Release Year 1979
Label Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino
Genre Rock
Reviewer John Sutton-Smith
Forum Link

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