Talking Heads Chronology is a $21 DVD that chronicles footage of the band from every stage of its life to 1983, including rare footage of their performances at CBGBs in the early days of their act. Talking Heads is, of course, the band that put out the greatest concert movie of all time, along with one of the great concert albums of the 20th century, which is to say, they are the kind of band that you want to see concert footage from.
David Byrne writes,
This was very much a live band—at least until the late 80s. The initial recordings emerged out of what we played live, what worked in that context and how we refined our skills playing together. For a lot of musicians in the digital era this is not always the case. These days, the record often comes first and then how it is staged comes later. The Lester Bangs essay is also very much part of this time. Other than some very specific references, it holds up amazingly well as a passionate and idiosyncratic piece of writing. There’s a reason a lot of writers continue to hold him up as a role model (though I hope they bypass some of the substance abuse). Though his piece is in the form of a record review, it is in truth a beautiful existential rant—and I am proud to be in some way associated with it. Come to think of it, maybe many of these songs are partly something else in disguise as well?
With each iteration of Chronology, you can pretty plainly see what came before as well as a hint of what was to come—all easy to spot in retrospect, of course. There are some fashion don’ts as well as some prescient looks—but what you really get is a sense of how tight this band was. Of course, there is more footage to be found from these sources but I thought to myself, “How many versions of the same songs can one view?” I think the sampler approach gives the viewer a sense of the musical and performative changes we were going through, but without the possibly tedious repetition.