Underplayed Vinyl: The Talking Heads


While I liked the Talking Heads well enough on the radio in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I’m not sure I reached that critical point necessary to actually buy one of their albums until I saw the group at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, August 3, 1983, still one of my two favorite concerts ever. After that, I HAD to buy some of their music, and ended up with most of, if not all of their output. I started with the then current selection, Speaking In Tongues, released in June of ’83.

Here’s the playlist:

A1 Burning Down the House 4:00
A2 Making Flippy Floppy 4:36
A3 Girlfriend Is Better 4:25
A4 Slippery People 3:30
A5 I Get Wild / Wild Gravity 4:06
B1 Swamp 5:09
B2 Moon Rocks 5:04
B3 Pull Up the Roots 5:08
B4 This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) 4:56

I LOVED this album. I practically played the grooves off. “House”, of course, was supported by that strange video. I don’t know which of the next two songs is my favorite. “Slippery People” has a beat that evokes Tom Tom Club. The Progressive Ruin feeling of “Swamp”. The vulnerability of the vocals in “This Must Be The Place”.

Eventually, I had to replace the LP with a CD, at some point after 1987. I was playing it, but only half listening, since I was so familiar with it from repeated play. Yet it sounded…different.
Burning Down the House 4:00
Making Flippy Floppy 5:50
Girlfriend Is Better 5:41
Slippery People 5:02
I Get Wild/Wild Gravity 5:15
Swamp 5:09
Moon Rocks 5:40
Pull Up the Roots 5:08
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) 4:56

It WAS different. Cuts 2-5 and 7 were longer, sometimes substantially. “Flippy- Floppy” even has an extra verse.

When CDs were introduced in the early 1980s, the record companies were trying to induce buyers to purchase this shiny new technology. Synchroncity, the Police album that also came out in June ’83, had an extra song, “Murder By Numbers”. Other albums did likewise.

The longer versions, to my ear, have now become the standard. Now I listen to the TH LP and the songs sound truncated, incomplete. I wouldn’t be surprised if one can buy yet a different package with both versions, but I’m not purchasing it yet another time.

Oh, not so incidentally, David Byrne turns 55 today.
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Shoulda known Fred would remember Rocco’s birthday.
ROG

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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