Talking Heads..Stop Making Sense

Went to see the remaster film of Talking Heads Stop Making Sense and I was excellent. Big fan of the group and thoroughly enjoyed this last night. Makes you realise how good they were at that time. Only showing for a few days at the Odeon near me but hardly anyone watching.

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My favorite live albumn, even better with the extra tracks of the revised version. great film too, though I have not seen the remaster.

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Went to see it last Monday at the Everyman in Manchester. Opted against IMAX as I find they tend to expose poor image quality and the sound is very position dependent. IMAX is great for things which are large in scale but not gigs. Excellent decision as there were only six of us in the cinema.

Know the album well and much as I enjoyed it it’s not one I come back to a lot albeit I’m generally not a fan of live albums. Really enjoyed the film although the remaster has done some very odd things. Byrne at the beginning looked like he’d had Botox. The remaster compared to the original was extraordinarily different in that respect not least because by the end he was sweating with the rest of them and it was clear that the retouching was a bit messy. The detail on band members faces compared to the lack of detail on Byrne’s face at the outset was quite disturbing.

I don’t think it’s one of the “greatest concert films of all time”. It’s very good and never less than enjoyable but Demme’s endless focus on Byrne when other things were going on around and behind him was essentially the same mistake most concert films make. The film was at its very best when the cameras pulled back and you could see the rhythm section interacting; just how drugged up Worrall was; how much fun the singers were having; Tina’s odd movements and smile. You certainly got the sense of a band at their peak and enjoying themselves, but only periodically.

The other thing for me was the set list. Inevitably focused on Speaking In Tongues. A very good album and certainly stronger than what came after but on this occasion the focus was to the detriment of Fear Of Music and Remain In Light. There were moments our small audience found their attention drifting. They were broadly the same moments too and all from Speaking In Tongues.

That said we thought the version of Heaven was magnificent (although again, why not show the backing vocalists who were off stage but clearly singing) and the version of Burning Down The House was just magical. Absolutely definitive. Interesting then, having seen all the discussions here and elsewhere about the mastering quality and dynamic range of the various CD and vinyl versions, to realise that on record it comes off as a little flat and dull. The visuals and cinema sound definitely give it a power the recordings did not.


Jonathan Demme’s other fine concert film is of course “Storefront Hitchcock”, I have a suspicion that we’ll never see that as a theatrical release again….IMAX would be nice!

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