In 2005 (!), Rhino released a dual-disc box set of all eight Talking Heads studio albums with one side mastered for DVD-A surround-sound and the other for stereo, along with a bunch of rarities, all packaged in a gorgeous molded plastic box.
Despite the fact that is is jaw-droppingly amazing for a stone cold Talking Heads megafan like me, I managed to miss it entirely. One of my Burning Man campmates mentioned it to me and I was overcome with a powerful urge to own this thing, and now I do, having paid an absurd sum for it.
I don't regret it.
The new mixes come from original Talking Head Jerry Harrison and Eric "E.T." Thorngren, who do an incredible job with the surround-sound, bringing out elements I'd never noticed in songs I can sing note-for-note, emphasizing the fact that, even in the studio, Talking Heads was a jam band that found intense grooves and worked them.
The box set goes for about $200 at this point. It's worth it.
Talking Heads' 30th anniversary is commemorated in typically artful style here, sonically upgrading their eight, era-defining albums via bonus-packed Dual Discs and encasing them in a molded white plastic box intricately embossed with the band's song titles. Each disc contains complete album tracks and bonus cuts remastered in High Resolution Stereo on its CD side, while the DVD programming on the flip offers up the audio tracks in expansive new 5.1 Surround Sound mixes, with all of the sonic upgrading personally supervised by Jerry Harrison. Those long overdue audio improvements alone would make it an attractive set, but fans of the band will find its wealth of bonus music (various B-sides and previously unreleased outtakes) and video (including a number of rare live clips seeing their first release here) supplements equally intriguing.
Bonus musical highlights include four rhythmically-charged, unfinished Remain in Light outtakes (including one that eventually evolved into the band's signature "Once in a Lifetime") that allow insightful glimpses into Eno's innovative production techniques on the album, alternate versions of "Cities," "Life During Wartime" and "Mind" from Fear of Music, a countrified version of "Thank You For Sending Me an Angel" from More Songs About.. and a strangely muted early version of another Heads staple, Speaking in Tongue's "Burning Down the House." An early demo of "And She Was" from Little Creatures demostrates that the whole of a glorius pop song can be the assembly of its simple parts. While the additional visual materials (especially the raw early performance clips) are a welcome addition to the Heads' canon, they're also something of a tradeoff: a few of the band's videos are conspicuously absent, including Remain in Light's "Once in a Lifetime." But overlooking a couple of the band's better known promotional moments in favor of revealing new musical treasures and vastly improved, state-of-the-art audio scarcely blunts the appeal of this rewarding career overview. — Jerry McCulley
Talking Heads Dualdisc Brick [Rhino]
(Thanks, Dr Cheezie!)