New York City's child of wonder that is Talking Heads had a great career that evaluated several styles before their need to call it quits. Over their 10 year period, they graduated from art post-punk to travels in African rhythms and back again until they hit their final payload with the band's underrated Naked. With help from Bryne's ever churning restlessness and Eno's penchant for explorative music along with the willingness of the rest of the band to allow breathing room, Talking Heads rose to the top and quit there.
Rhino has revisited their entire catalogue by the good graces of Jerry Harrison, who has undertaken the task of remixing and revitalizing the catalogue to make the music more extraordinary by virtue of sound. At first, the catalogue was re-released as the BRICK, a white plastic container that held all of the discs, remastered for CD and remixed for DVD-Audio and 5.1 surround. In addition, there are uncovered bonus tracks that supplement each album, making these new breakout (individually sold) albums from The BRICK very easy to acquire especially if you have favourites and only want those. It also allows you the freedom and budget to acquire the albums at a pace that works wonders for the wallet or pocketbook.
For the purpose of this review, we pay attention to True Stories, the album that followed the Little Creatures album, itself a transitional phase that led from World rhythm to the simpler, less complex music of their earlier career and one that offered a conducive environment for the singles that spun off them. We also review the final album in their catalogue, the seemingly dismissed Naked.
True Stories continued the trend started with the successful Little Creatures and churned out "Wild Wild Life", but it was evident that the band was slowing. It is obviously the album that started the band to rethink their effectiveness as a unit, probably realizing that they have explored a wide continent of styles, covering more ground than many bands ever have and growing tired of the entire routine. Fortunately, they stayed together long enough to produce an album that hints at better things down the road, a road that they had no intention of traveling on again.
The re-release of True Stories offers, as the others in this collection does, the remastered CD on one side and the DualDisc DVD on the other. The DVD side contains the entire album in 5.1 Surround and in Advanced Resolutions/DVD-Audio glory adding bonus benefit by including Dolby Surround to assist those not yet with sufficent hardware to decode the DVD-Audio mix. There is also a Dolby Stereo mix on the DVD side. Finally, the DVD side includes 2 videos, the entertaining "Wild Wild Life" and "Love For Sale". On the CD side, bonuses include an extended mix of "Wild Wild Life", Pops Staples vocal version of "Papa Legra", and the Tito Larriva vocal version of "Radio Head".
The final album, Naked, contains the same 'one side CD, the other DVD' DualDisc format with bonuses and the remastered mixes. The CD side offers "Sax and Violins", a track found on earlier 'best of' Popular Favorites:Sand In the Vaseline 2CD collection. Bonus videos on the DVD side include "Blind" and "Sax and Violins." There is also the 5.1 Surround in both Advanced Resolutions (DVD-Audio) and Dolby Surround/Stereo.
All of the discs, including those not found in the subject of this review, are housed in digipak that replicate the original cover art with the new booklet inserted into the front cover. All of the albums' booklets have nice, photo-filled, goodies with complete credits as well as new notes from Jerry Harrison concerning the 5.1 mixes along with observations of the music, etc. By this time, it is no secret that the remastering, the remixes and the Surround reworks (although I question, aside from Once In a Lifetime, whose multi-layered music benefits greatly from 5.1, the real need for 5.1 of other Talking Heads material) are spectacular. The music offers better sound than have languished on older CD releases and that alone is cause for celebration.
With notice placed firmly on the importance of Talking Heads and their contribution to the evolution of Rock, their recent Box set and these catalogue definitives reissues are quite welcome to the band's legion of fans.