Talking Heads

At long last, after you've burned and booted CD-R transfers of scratchy-hissy vinyl copies kept on shelves long after the record player was put into cold storage, this essential twofer makes its digital debut. It doesn't matter how much you love that Franz Ferdinand hit single, which you still can't believe is a hit single, or how much you love that Modest Mouse hit single, which they can't believe is a hit single, there's no denying the pleasure derived from listening to Those Who Invented It doing it far, far better than Those Who Borrowed It. Twenty-two years after The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads hit the record racks at cut-out prices, the reissue doubles the original's contents (33 tracks, up from 17) and triples its pleasures. What was an exciting record, with one side culled from The Paranoid Years ('77-'79) and another from The Party Years ('80-'82), becomes an essential collection, a compilation to which there's no comparison (not even Stop Making Sense, which suddenly pales).

The first disc, fleshed out with songs withheld from the original ("The Book I Read," "I'm Not in Love" and "Heaven," among others) and rounded out by a trio of tracks ("The Girls Want to Be With the Girls," "Electricity" and "Found a Job") from a 1979 promo-only disc, showcases a band fresh from art school doing its doctoral work at CBGB. In retrospect, this stuff always worked better onstage than in the studio, where the music sounded too cold to touch for too long; these songs thrived by feeding off the audience's own anxieties. The bent notes and crooked melodies were like razor-blade boomerangs chucked into a crowd that tried to grab every one.

Disc two's where the band loaded up on extra members and lightened up; the version of "Psycho Killer," heard for the first time, is almost playful with Adrian Belew's space jams busting open the claustrophobia. If disc one was all tension, disc two is pure release--frenetic and fun, joyous and danceable. Like the song says, the heat goes on. And on. And on. The best record of 1982 is the best CD of 2004.