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The Scarlet & Black

The Loggia playlist: The Talking Heads- Stop Making Sense (1984)

Verdict: 5 out of 5 reasons why 1984 “won’t be like 1984”
“Here’s a little song I want to play…”

It all starts with David Byrne putting on a tape; one guy alone on the stage with a stool, a guitar, and an oversized suit. The first time my parents sat me down to watch Stop Making Sense, they gave me just about the same level of explanation. So this is the greatest rock film of all time? I wasn’t totally sold in 8th grade, but I think that now I’d have to say yes. It’s not as much a show as performance art—simple and flawless in its presentation.

David Byrne and co. would probably be blushing awkwardly. For a gang of Rhode Island art students, the Talking Heads are anything BUT pretentious. Listening to the album, you get the sense that they are even a little awed by their own performance; in between sets, the lead singer barely manages to blurt out a stunned “thanks!”
No, really—thank you! Recorded live over the course of three different shows, this album is as much a labor of love from the Talking Heads to their fans as anything else. There’s something for everyone here—shameless 80s synth, soulful choruses, goofy banter, and rousing sing-along classics (like “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House”). The whole thing is almost too much fun to stop listening to (no mean feat at an hour-forty).  I have no idea what “making flippy-floppy” means, but I’m sure that I want to do whatever David Byrne is doing. I just can’t help but smile at his straight-faced protestations that “This ain’t no party; this ain’t no disco; this ain’t no foolin’ around!”

And yet, it totally is. This record is the ultimate concert-in-a-box: a soundtrack for whatever cheeky, retro shenanigans it may inspire. It may be no “party or disco”, but I know that it routinely leads to some of the best dance parties at Grinnell every time it gets screened at Gardner. But in all honesty, I still just love watching the concert video. It’s almost fitting that after all these years, this album still holds up as an unmatched feat of art, showmanship, and style despite all its efforts to Stop Making Sense.

The Highlights:
•The songs all complement each other perfectly
•“Once in a Lifetime,” “Thank you for sending me an Angel,” “What a day it was”
•David Byrne’s Big Suit
•Live songs that are better than their studio versions

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