Few bands can boast a performance so image-defining as the one the Talking Heads pulled off in Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense. Given its physical meticulousness, its seamless editing, and its refined aesthetic sense — qualities rarely prioritized in rock concert films — its place in the zeitgeist seems well earned. But that picture opened in 1984, when the band had already released its most widely respected albums, and when they had only four years to go before effectively dissolving. Live in Rome, which you can now watch uncut on YouTube, captures the Heads in 1980, a less established moment in their history. David Byrne and company express the same kind of off-kilter energy on display in Stop Making Sense — the enthusiasm of punks who also happen to be musicology nerds — but here they express it in a simpler, more traditionally “rock concert-ish” setting.
Talking Heads enthusiasts, note that Live in Rome features the group’s full “Afro-Funk Orchestra” lineup. Additionally, you’ll see on guitar a certain Adrian Belew, who would begin fronting King Crimson the following year. (As he might, in another reality, have fronted the Heads themselves; in our reality, he turned down an offer to take Byrne’s place.) The songs not heard in Stop Making Sense include “Stay Hungry,” “Cities,” “I Zimbra,” “Drugs,” “Houses in Motion,” “Born Under Punches,” and “The Great Curve.” No die-hard fan will feel completely satisfied with this concert, of course, until someone remasters it on Blu-Ray with a complete surround sound mix. But if you simply need a hit of a pack of art-school rockers unlike any others America has produced, this Remain in Light-era hour merits a permanent bookmark. H/T Biblioklept