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Talking Heads: Live in Rome 1980 full concert
September 15, 2012 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Talking Heads, Live in Rome, 1980 The Talking Heads concert film you haven't seen: the show that would eventually be recorded in the (awesome) concert film Stop Making Sense 3 years later, recorded while it was still a bit weird and uncertain. And therefore, wonderful.

Several individual songs from this show were compiled a few years ago in an excellent post by Meatbomb.
posted by BoringPostcards (67 comments total) 111 users marked this as a favorite

 
The world moves on a womans hips
The world moves and it swivels and bops
The world moves on a womans hips
The world moves and it bounces and hops
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:12 PM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


the show that would eventually be recorded in the (awesome) concert film Stop Making Sense yt 3 years later,

great post but this is misleading.

1980 would've been the Remain in Light tour, an album quite different in intention from Speaking in Tongues (and far better to my ears). It's also a different live line-up -- Adrian Belew among others.

This would be the tour that gave us the live album -- The Name Of This Band is Talking Heads, which the link argues, is actually better than Stop Making Sense.
posted by philip-random at 7:25 PM on September 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


which the link argues, is actually better than Stop Making Sense

Where??
posted by ericost at 7:35 PM on September 15, 2012


I don't know whether the link argues that, but it's certainly true.
posted by escabeche at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I saw Talking Heads on this tour. Can confirm awesomeness. My friend still has Jerry Harrison's autograph on a greasy pizza plate from that night.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2012


That said, this is kind of a double.
posted by escabeche at 7:47 PM on September 15, 2012


I liked the expanded version of Talking Heads much better than the same-old-quartet that made the awkward Speaking in Tongues record and the Stop Making Sense movie. There seemed to be a lot more fun, creativity, and, rhythmic complexity in the music-making on the '80 tour.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 7:48 PM on September 15, 2012


Agreed that The Name of this Band is a far superior album to SMS. I always enjoyed the rawness, particularly of the first LP of that record (which was from 1977(?), not this Rome concert era), to SMS overall. "Clean Break" is such a kick-ass song.

This concert is a great find, though.
posted by RabbleRabble at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


@ericost: from philip-random's Allmusic link: "Although most people probably think the only Talking Heads live release is Stop Making Sense, the fact is that there's an earlier, better live album called The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads."
posted by RabbleRabble at 8:05 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't know this existed, and I hadn't seen the previously, so I'm glad for this post. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
posted by immlass at 8:05 PM on September 15, 2012


I don't care if this is (kinda) a double.
It's pretty much exactly the soundtrack to my Sunday I didn't know I needed.
If anyone finds This Must Be The Place, feel free to let me know where it pops up.

Also: That Sabbath gig seems pretty interesting too.
Or, you know... The Police, if you like that sort of thing.
Lynyrd Skynyrd too, if you want "Freebird".
posted by Mezentian at 8:08 PM on September 15, 2012


If anyone finds This Must Be The Place

Had that song been written in 1980?
posted by escabeche at 8:10 PM on September 15, 2012


No. It had not. Sadly. It is on Stop Making Sense. I was jumping to conclusions there.
Oh well, SMS is right there as well. Time for some bad dancing.
posted by Mezentian at 8:12 PM on September 15, 2012


Adrian Belew is amazing.

Well, pretty much everyone on the stage is amazing, really.

But god damn, that is how you play a guitar, people!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 PM on September 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Adrian Belew is amazing.

He seems looser & more at ease here than on anything I've seen. I've seen Crimson twice, and own some live DVD stuff, and while it's all great, he's not busy here worrying about lyrics, and since they're not his songs, he's not operating in a position of responsibility for the compositions, and is just completely living in the moment. He really shines on this.

So many things intersected here right as they were reaching full flower - Belew, Byrne's lyrical and melodic prowess, the maturation of Harrison, Weymouth & Frantz's concepts about song construction that began with I Zimbra -- I could yammer on about how game-changing Remain In Light was, but I've probably done that already, or perhaps someone else has better than me, but there is a visceral exuberance for rhythm here - the way they eschewed chord changes and just wrote grooves and interwove bits in and out of them - it's a celebration of rhythm, really. Wavelengths, vibrations, oscillations. The stuff the universe is made of, expressed as sound.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:33 PM on September 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


there went my productivity for 1:04:09, people. What Sys Rq said. My brain is still reverberating.
posted by skippyhacker at 8:35 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Double.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:38 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


...is it really a double if the original link didn't have all the stuff and is also linked in the main post?
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:41 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Excellent post. Thanks for this.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:45 PM on September 15, 2012


Double.

There is a statute of limitations. Five years is plenty.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 PM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


No! I demand the awesome contained within be deleted, so only we may share in its awesome!
posted by Mezentian at 9:12 PM on September 15, 2012


Well I didn't see the re-link, and I still remembered that post like it was yesterday. This concert is awesome, but it's not any more awesome than it was 5 years ago.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:16 PM on September 15, 2012


Oh, this is great!

Agreed about Belew. He is just doing his thing in a way that comes across much more relaxed than I've ever seen him. But if he couldn't have a good time up there with the Talking Heads at that time then he would have to be incapable of having a good time at all. He usually strikes me as this weird combo of goofy and stiff, here he's just wacky good.
posted by safetyfork at 9:19 PM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


5 years ago YouTube videos were limited to 10 minutes. Way better like this. Just let it go and enjoy it, man.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:21 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where are the deleted comments about Adrian Belew, particularly the one that linked to his wikipedia page? I really wanted to go back and look at that.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:54 PM on September 15, 2012


Never mind. They were in the earlier post.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:56 PM on September 15, 2012


This is awesome.
In 1986 I spent the summer in Siena/Florence with a bunch of other artsy teenagers, studying art, and everyone there seemed to know Psycho Killer better than us North Americans. Very cool.
posted by chococat at 11:27 PM on September 15, 2012


Genius. Thanks.
posted by holist at 11:30 PM on September 15, 2012


This is why I hate Vampire Weekend.

Great post.
posted by bardic at 12:19 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't a Talking Heads post at this moment in time mention the David Byrne/St. Vincent album that came out last week. Elephant in the room?
posted by outlandishmarxist at 1:06 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adrian Belew is one of my favorite guitarists. The Name of the Band is Talking Heads is a great album - from this vintage?
posted by mattoxic at 1:11 AM on September 16, 2012


At about 23:00 minutes in... the intense Belew outro of Cities/Drugs is still so epically raw, (even after 20 years of of first hearing the album version of this concert).
posted by artaxerxes at 1:52 AM on September 16, 2012


YouTube also provides us with a 1982 gig at Wembley with the songs interspersed with found footage which is, if not echt Bruce Conner, then at least Bruce Conner-esque. Also features kicking versions of songs from The Catherine Wheel (the album versions of What a Day That Was and Big Blue Plymouth are always a bit underwhelming next to the live versions).

And Love This Giant is wonderful, by the way.
posted by Grangousier at 3:17 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saw them on this tour (I think, certainly the cast of thousands on stage) in Portsmouth, UK, Dec 6th 1979. David Byrne rarely disappoints live.
posted by epo at 3:30 AM on September 16, 2012


David Byrne rarely disappoints live.

Quoted for truth!
I saw him solo a few years back, and he blew me away. That's really what sold me on Talking Heads in the first place.
posted by Mezentian at 3:41 AM on September 16, 2012


Belew, those trousers!
posted by veids at 4:18 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mezentian: "Or, you know... The Police, if you like that sort of thing."
I saw the Police with the (English) Beat opening back in 82, and to this day that's still the best concert I ever went to.

I think it should be mentioned that the Talking Heads sounded so good during this era in no small part due to collaboration with Brian Eno.
posted by Red Loop at 4:57 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not just Brian Eno -- they were all listening to Fela Kuti. Compare Afrodisiac (1974) to anything by the Talking Heads up through Speaking in Tongues (1983). (The reissue of Remain in Light (1980) actually has a track titled "Fela's Riff" on it.)

American New Wave music of the '80s is indebted to Kuti, as he influenced both the CBGB crowd and the British Ska resurgence.
posted by vhsiv at 5:33 AM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think it should be mentioned that the Talking Heads sounded so good during this era in no small part due to collaboration with Brian Eno.

Not just Brian Eno -- they were all listening to Fela Kuti.


Both true and wonderful things.

There are those who will grouse about the supposed misappropriation of Fela's work & claim cultural exploitation, but myself, I celebrate the synthesis.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:49 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


misappropriation of Fela's work

Any such complaint is nonsense, as Fela jammed his work with as much James Brown as possible.

Musically, it's the, uh, circle of life.
posted by Wolof at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw the Police with the (English) Beat opening back in 82, and to this day that's still the best concert I ever went to.

Oh jeez. I saw that same tour. I went to see English Beat, The Police were so awful we walked out.

Best concert I ever saw: The Gluons opening for Magazine. That was the 1980 "Correct Use of Soap" tour. I think a whole concert from that tour is up on YouTube, that should be a whole post by itself. Here's a sample: Permafrost. I waited years for YouTube clips of The Gluons to appear, finally there are a few. They were a local Denver punk band, I don't think they recorded any more than 1 single and 1 EP, but it was better than I remembered. FOr that matter, I didn't remember them at all. So here are a couple of samples: Your Manikin Hand from about 1984, and from 1981, Birdbrain with vocal performance by Alan Ginsberg. Oh yeah definitely check that one out.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know if this is grousing, but when I finally discovered Kuti 3 years ago, my sense of cultural history underwent a minor retcon. In the '80s Ska was a gateway drug to all sorts of classic Blue Note stuff. There was no way of my knowing that Fela had been influenced by Larry Young, Booker Ervin and James Brown.

At the time though, my too-cool-for-school HS Lit. teacher (who also owned a record store) was pushing Sunny Adé. I'm still not sure if I lost 25 years, or if I've just caught up with information I was supposed to have all along.

Here's better source for Afrodisiac, btw.
(Just start with "Alu Jon Jonki Jon" and run the playlist through until the end.)
posted by vhsiv at 6:24 AM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Historical footnote: The expanded version of the band made its debut at Heatwave - the "new wave Woodstock" outside Toronto on Aug 23 1980. Here's a short feature on the event.
posted by davebush at 8:02 AM on September 16, 2012


Not just Brian Eno -- they were all listening to Fela Kuti.

... and Can, who Eno credits with being the first conscious samplers via Holger Czukay's tape and shortwave radio experiments and manipulations. They were also "going native" long before it was the hip thing to do with their ongoing E.F.S. stuff (Ethnic Forgery Series), which was basically mucking around with so-called "world music".

... and who made Can possible? I guess that would be James Brown, the Velvet Underground, the psychedelic Beatles, and oh yeah, Karlheinz Stockhausen, who taught a few of them back in their student days.

Great music has no beginning, no end.
posted by philip-random at 8:10 AM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sampling wireless via tape with experiments and manipulations, you say? That was 1960, but others and others were doing this and that before and after. I thoroughly recommend listening to that all the way through, it becomes really quite beautiful.

(I'm playing this on top of Choral Evensong on Radio 3. It's working really well... remember, humans, you have two ears. There is no need to listen to just one thing at once. )

((Reminded of the old joke about John Cage on Desert Island Discs. When asked what eight records he wanted, he said "Any. But play them all at once."))
posted by Devonian at 8:19 AM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Historical footnote: The expanded version of the band made its debut at Heatwave - the "new wave Woodstock" outside Toronto on Aug 23 1980.

It wasn't "outside Toronto" so much as "outside Oshawa." Which, first of all, is just bananas (Bowmanville!), and secondly, would probably explain why the audience appears to be full of drunken hicks who've never heard of any of those bands.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:26 AM on September 16, 2012


@ericost: from philip-random's Allmusic link

Oh, duh, I thought he meant the link in the OP! Thanks for setting me straight. I should note that I am a huge TH fan, and consider SMS and TNOTBITH of equal excellence.

I do, however, hold a special place in my musical heart for SMS, as it was the first (I think?) album I ever bought, at the Sam Goody in Chesterfield Mall. I was 13. I got the cassette, and it came packaged with a booklet with lots of stills from the movie, and I think a poster, and it was all so perfectly strange and it felt like the best 10 bucks I ever spent.

I started buying the back catalog after that, and remember being so disappointed with Speaking in Tongues. I still feel it is their weakest album; great songs, but the performances feel so flat, especially when compared to the live renditions on SMS. Then my uncle learned I was into TH and made me a tape with '77 on one side and MSABAF and I my love for TH was cemented.

(Oh, and Live in Rome 1980 is stellar; first found out about it from meatbomb's post.)
posted by ericost at 8:34 AM on September 16, 2012


Saw them on this tour (I think, certainly the cast of thousands on stage) in Portsmouth, UK, Dec 6th 1979.

The 9-member band debuted at the Toronto Heatwave Festival in August 1980, they still would have had a 4-piece lineup onstage in 1979.
posted by anazgnos at 8:36 AM on September 16, 2012


King Sunny Adé was also a mind-bending experience, live. I saw him at Liberty Lunch in '86 or '87. Got really lucky, and someone had left a chair sitting right in front of one of the roof supports, so I got to stand on the chair without blocking anyone's view 15 feet from the stage.

He had with him 4 backup singers, 4 percussionists besides the kit drummer, a couple keyboard players, another guitarist besides himself -- I think there were 12 -16 people on stage, and again -- like the Heads Remain in Light tour, it was just a massive celebration of life. The coolest dude in his whole band was a really little guy playing the pedal steel guitar, who would sort of describe the lyrics with broad hand motions when he wasn't playing, this giant smile on his face, the whole while, like he was conjuring the cosmos into existence.

Those Heatwave boots are out there, and while the sound quality isn't just great, it's better than an audience cassette. I'd guess it to be a 4th or 5th generation cassette dupe of a board mix. Worth tracking down, for sure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:14 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I caught King Sunny + his crowd in 1983 or 84. Lucky me. It was definitely one of those live musical experiences where the sheer magnitude of what was going on absolutely gobsmacked me. Not just the size of the group, but how every member was integral to this rich, rich sound. The word elemental comes to mind, like this golden liquid flowing from the stage ... and no, I wasn't on acid.

Later that year I caught the Stop Making Sense tour from the third or fourth row ... and it wasn't as good. Amazing for sure, a full-on party, fifteen thousand strong ... but it still paled. And I was on acid for that one.
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 9-member band debuted at the Toronto Heatwave Festival in August 1980, they still would have had a 4-piece lineup onstage in 1979.

OK. Don't have any ticket stubs but only one TH gig is listed for that venue, that is 1979 and it was more than the four of them. Good concert, whenever it was.
posted by epo at 10:30 AM on September 16, 2012


BoringPostcards, thanks for this post - any day with a Talking Heads concert in it is a righteous one. Most excellent.

Devils Rancher, philip-random, I echo your enthusiasm for the great King Sunny. I had the good fortune to see KSA and entourage live 4 or 5 times - three shows in a small club called Zootz in Portland Maine (Ah, the Afropop Zootz introduced me to - King Sunny, Loketo, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, and more!)

King Sunny was a transcendent experience I always got to Zootz early to stand right in front of the stage. That pedal steel guitarist was indeed a fabulous dude, Devils Rancher - the whole band just glowed, such a happy-making experience.

BTW, much more recent vintage, but here is a King Sunny post with some clips.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:14 AM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just discovered - "77" was released this very day, Sept 16, back in 1977.
posted by davebush at 12:55 PM on September 16, 2012


Went to King Sunny Ade dance concert at El Casino Ballroom in Tucson Arizona in June 1990 or June 1991. Danced my way through it. It really was a ballroom, packed with happy dancers. What amazing music that was! Thanks for bringing the memory back . . .
posted by Galadhwen at 12:56 PM on September 16, 2012


Thank you for helping me kill an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon! One of the two bands I never ever got to enjoy live in that era.

Not bad for a stage-full of kids hovering around 30 years old (as of 1980).
posted by Thorzdad at 1:21 PM on September 16, 2012


Thanks for reminding me about King Sunny Ade- I often bore the youngsters yammering on about how awesome Talking Heads were on the Stop Making Sense tour, but tend to forget seeing King Sunny and Black Uhuru in (apparently) '84, which was also just wonderful.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:52 PM on September 16, 2012


I saw "Stop Making Sense" when it came out in theatres. Loved it then, and loved it just as much just now as I did my chores. Thanks for this!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2012


> ... and Can, who Eno credits with being the first conscious samplers via Holger Czukay's tape and shortwave radio experiments and manipulations.

This may just be pointless name-checking, but back in 1987 or so, I went to a Guy Picciotto show at the old 9:30 Club here in DC, where he was premiering his new band, Happy-Go-Licky, a slightly psychedelic confab of the music he played between Rites of Sping and Fugazi.

Given band-culture of my HS, I got an hororary minor in esoteric European Art Rock.This was also the late '80's and Public Enemy and their noise-oriented sampling style was on the way up. It was no surprise to see Piciotto start his show with samples of French and Italian language tapes in the intro to Suzuki. (Picciotto himself is French-Italian.) Sadly, those samples aren't part of this show or the Will Play anthology,but I *do* have those samples on a tape he sent me years later.

I caught up with him via e-mail and he denied any and all Can influences. It may have been a one-time experiment.

There are plenty of small things about DC that remind me of Cold War Berlin. Maybe it's the hostage mentality we get from living through Republican occupations.

(If you hadn't guessed, DC locals are typically pretty liberal. Conservatives usually move here from yonder.)
posted by vhsiv at 2:45 PM on September 16, 2012


Why hello there Adrian Belew guitar noise! Fancy meeting you here!
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:02 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Adrian Belew is amazing.

I hadn't heard of him when we trudged into the 1980 Heatwave festival...
(swell sets from youthful versions of The Pretenders, The B52's, Graham Parker's backing band The Rumour without Graham Parker, who actually had some pretty interesting harmonic stuff going..)

Nobody expects a full funky orchestra from the Talking Heads... complete surprise... minds are blown... everyone is groovin'...

And then this guy steps forward, toes a pedal, and these profound waves of intense slidey guitar wash over this ocean of human consciousness... who is this guy?

(and Elvis did the next set, which was pretty good, too).
posted by ovvl at 7:04 PM on September 16, 2012


but tend to forget seeing King Sunny and Black Uhuru in (apparently) '84, which was also just wonderful.

I missed King Sunny (in retrospect, argh!) but I saw Black Uhuru around this time, with Sly and Robbie, and they were just stunning, and probably the best live drum sound mix in a stadium I've ever heard.
posted by ovvl at 7:13 PM on September 16, 2012


omg ovvl yes, I knew (and probably know) about zero about dub, but jesus that was some of the soapiest, dirtiest, riddim section bidness I probably ever heard. Until I saw Bunny, maybe... but Sly and Robbie are unimpeachable, to say the least.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:34 AM on September 17, 2012


ssh, I guess, but check it out- I never saw this before, but it's of a similar vintage, 50 minutes on German TV,and dang the video is spectacularly better - Dortmund. Busta Jones and Dolette Macdonand look amazing! Bernie Worrell is still mostly invisible, but I believe that to be the way he prefers it, so aiight.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:27 AM on September 17, 2012


I liked the expanded version of Talking Heads much better than the same-old-quartet that made the awkward Speaking in Tongues record and the Stop Making Sense movie.

That was the extended lineup!!! Yeesh.
posted by raysmj at 4:37 AM on September 17, 2012


That was the extended lineup!!! Yeesh.

Let me clarify: I liked this expanded lineup with Adrian Belew. Speaking in Tongues was a real step backward after the progression that began with Fear of Music, went through Remain in Light, and culminated with the second disc of the double-live The Name of This Band set.

And anyone who prefers the pretentious assbaggery of Stop Making Sense to the jam-session vitality of this footage from the 1980 Rome concert is welcome to it.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 5:42 AM on September 17, 2012


^ misappropriation of Fela's work

Any such complaint is nonsense, as Fela jammed his work with as much James Brown as possible.

Musically, it's the, uh, circle of life.


The Talking Heads were part of a reversal that allowed white kids from the suburbs to enjoy so-called Urban Music.

Listening to "Making Flippy Floppy" in 2012, after becoming familiar with Kuti's catalogue is another thing altogether. I'm glad that Byrne, Weymouth, etc. were able to listen to the Nigerian's music and find something to borrow from it.

After Kuti, it seems to me that the Talking Heads were just a little too restrained. At the same time, I probably wasn't ready for uncut Nigerian percussion in the 80s. I couldn't have properly appreciated the horn or guitar interplay.

IIRC, Gary McGown did say that he'd "danced his ass of" to Sunny Adé, back in the day.
posted by vhsiv at 6:03 AM on September 17, 2012


David Byrne rarely disappoints live.

Quoted for truth!
I saw him solo a few years back, and he blew me away


Yeah, I saw him on tour for his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today tour, and was completely blown away. The entire show was thought through on a level which few tours are. He had three dancers doing modern dance during the show, but the choreography extended beyond them to the entire group onstage, and it was thrilling.

Byrne actually stopped the show at one point when the crowd reacted strongly to what was going on on stage and encored the part which inspired the reaction. It seemed to really throw the crew off balance for a bit, but that kind of interaction with the audience was utterly charming and only bonded the audience with the show even more.

That tour was documented in the film Ride, Rise, Roar, which involved MeFi's own milquetoast.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 AM on September 17, 2012


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