Hear the Earliest Known Talking Heads Recordings (1975)

We’ve fea­tured a fair few ear­ly Talk­ing Heads per­for­mances, from Dort­mund and Rome in 1980 to Syra­cuse in 1978 all the way back to CBGB in 1975. But you haven’t real­ly heard ear­ly Talk­ing Heads until you’ve heard the ear­li­est Talk­ing Heads. The same year of that CBGB show (one of many they played after their debut there open­ing for the Ramones), the trio of David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Wey­mouth record­ed a series of demos at CBS stu­dios. Still unsigned and in their ear­ly twen­ties, this first con­fig­u­ra­tion of the Heads (after the band, new­ly arrived in New York, shed their iden­ti­ty as “The Artis­tics” from their days togeth­er at the Rhode Island School of Design) laid down the very first known record­ed ver­sions of such notable tracks as “Psy­cho Killer” above, “Thank You for Send­ing Me an Angel” below, and “I’m Not in Love” below.

You can find a fuller playlist, which includes more songs from these CBS ses­sions like “I Wish You Would­n’t Say That,” “Ten­ta­tive Deci­sions,” and “Stay Hun­gry,” here. We often hear these songs described as the defin­ing mate­r­i­al of a pio­neer­ing “post-punk” band like Talk­ing Heads, so the fact that all these tracks come from 1975 make them per­haps the first exam­ples of the genre ever record­ed. This way of play­ing slight­ly ahead of their time may actu­al­ly have kept the group from find­ing a label to sign them until 1977, when Sire picked up the now-quar­tet (with the addi­tion of mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist Jer­ry Har­ri­son) and put out the immor­tal pair of LPs Talk­ing Heads: 77 and More Songs About Build­ings and Food. Yes, even though they’d record­ed these demos at CBS stu­dios, CBS Records passed up the chance to take them on. Sure­ly they lived it down more quick­ly than did Dec­ca Records after hav­ing reject­ed The Bea­t­les, but still, nobody every stayed atop the zeit­geist by turn­ing their back to the Talk­ing Heads.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Talk­ing Heads Play Live in Dort­mund, Ger­many Dur­ing Their Hey­day (1980)

Watch the Talk­ing Heads Play a Vin­tage Con­cert in Syra­cuse (1978)

Talk­ing Heads Play CBGB, the New York Club that Shaped Their Sound (1975)

Live in Rome, 1980: The Talk­ing Heads Con­cert Film You Haven’t Seen

Talk­ing Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Per­formed on Tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese Instru­ments

David Byrne: How Archi­tec­ture Helped Music Evolve

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (7)
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  • Michael says:

    Thanks for post­ing this, it made me very hap­py!! I love their ear­ly sound. I won­der if there’s any­more…

  • Bob says:

    Nice! But, the name the band is “Talk­ing Heads” no “the”!

  • Chad Jones says:

    Actu­al­ly, this isn’t new. These were pressed to vinyl in 2010 so they’ve been around at least 4 years.


  • Thomas Murphy says:

    WOW! Forty years ago! Won­der­ful! And what do we have to lis­ten to now? Katy Per­ry and Cold­play and Gaga? Pearl Jam? Death Cab For Cutie? Ick.


  • Andreas Georgi says:

    Anoth­er band pio­neer­ing band that influ­enced many of the art­si­er bands in the punk scene & “post-punk” as it’s now called was Rock­et from the Tombs from Cleve­land. They start­ed around ’74/’75 and even­tu­al­ly split into the Dead Boys, who were CBG­B’s reg­u­lars in the ear­ly days, and Pere Ubu, whose ear­ly albums are quin­tes­sen­tial “post-punk”. There’s demos from them from 1975 doing songs lat­er record­ed by the two spin­off bands like “Son­ic Reduc­er” and “30 Sec­onds Over Tokyo”.

  • Bodhi Amol says:

    hello,i was look­ing here in search for the real­ly ear­li­est Known recordings,but these are ”only” the sec­ond known ones.A tape of the very first con­cert in the CBG­Bs in June 1975 (open­ing for the Ramones)do exist,but was only ava­iable for a short while many years ago in the blogosphere,unfortunatley BEFORE i did detact it,so I still haven’t been able to lis­ten to this lost gem…

  • El Chupapanti says:

    Tina Wey­mouth had such a unique and incred­i­ble bass tone even ear­ly on.

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