Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

Talking HeadsThe lavish Once In A Lifetime boxed set by Talking Heads is something that will stand pride of place in anyone’s record collection. It’s essentially a large hardback book, housing a 3 CD “best of” compilation as well as a DVD containing all of Talking Head’s videos. It’s a sumptuous set and a a great introduction to the band, as each disc captures the band in their three key phases. Disc 1 is concerned with the band’s first two albums (Talking Heads: 77 and More Songs About Buildings And Food), where their signature blend of jerky guitars and tight rhythms developed. The tracks are mixed up, rather than being in chronological order but that doesn’t diminish their quality. “Psycho Killer” still sound ominous yet funky, “Don’t Worry About The Government” has a strange light hearted quality which I don’t think a band would get away with now.

Disc Two is definitely where the best stuff is; the tracks here are all culled from the three albums Talking Heads recorded with Brian Eno, Fear Of Music, Remain In Light and Speaking In Tongues. The band by this point had managed to weave African beats into their already tight, funky sound. “I Zimbra” is probably the best example of this, but even the the drumming on the classic “Once In A Lifetime” owes something to this multi-layered approach. But some of Talking Heads bigger pop hits are on this disc, like “Burning Down The House” and the underrated “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), both of which still get loads of radio airplay.

After this great run, Talking Heads stopped working with Brian Eno, but still came out with some big pop songs like “And She Was” and “Road To Nowhere”. But there are a few duff tracks on Disc 3 where the band were seemingly running out of steam. “Creatures Of Love” is one of a number of country-tinged songs that just don’t do much. “(Nothing But) Flowers” is much better, with it’s up-tempo world beat and it’s post-apocalyptic lyrics. The DVD itself is good, with the video for “Once In A Lifetime” a real treat. Considering there’s a single disc “Best Of” as well as the superlative concert album for “Stop Making Sense”, Once In A Lifetime might seem like an extravagant purchase. But this is the full history of a band whose legacy is inspiring more and more bands that you hear today, and as such is well worth the money.

Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody):

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime:

Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere:

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