Talking Heads

Good luck putting Talking Heads in a box. They spent the better part of their early years building a revolutionary bridge between the art-punk tremors of the mid-'70s and the MTV overthrow. More impressive, their sheer popularity bucked convention, bringing an unprecedented amount of creativity and angry intellectualism to an otherwise hollow top 40.

Even though the band's first box, Once in a Lifetime, is exhaustive--replete with three discs of music, an artfully designed 80-page book and a complete DVD collection of videos--it would be impossible for any one release to capture the breadth of the band's impact on pop culture.

As an expanded edition of 1988's Storytelling Giant, the DVD boxed set compiles every one of the band's videos, though the additions (mostly from the final Talking Heads' release, Naked) are fairly tame compared with the stunning visuals of "Burning Down the House." The most intriguing of these later singles is "Blind," starring a lip-synching monkey wrench, a singing chorus at a political rally and a half-naked, Crisco-covered David Byrne.

The book that accompanies Once in a Lifetime finds candid contributions by band members, a host of fringe celebrities and journalists, and serves as icing on the cake. But this kind of media overload still doesn't approach a complete retelling of the band's history. What the set does do, however, is arguably much more difficult: It gives an emotional imprint that's larger than the sum of its parts.

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Nate Cavalieri

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