Soundchecks Music Reviews

Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads

Palm Pictures DVD

99 minutes (E) 1984

STOP MAKING SENSE
director: Jonathan Demme

review by Christopher Geary

Indisputably the greatest rock concert ever filmed, this showcase for Talking Heads has the winning combination of superb music and quirkily innovative stagecraft. David Byrne's engagingly individual worldview and keenly satirical sense of humour come to the fore in the poetic song lyrics, the intriguingly minimalist sets and the curious lighting arrangements. It reeks of quality throughout but somehow manages to present a fun-loving spontaneity amidst the wholly structured progression: from Byrne's starkly solo performance of Psycho Killer to the full band's immensely rousing climax of Take Me To The River.

Using footage compiled from three gigs in Hollywood, there's plenty of great toe tapping stuff amidst the costume changes, time-out breaks for the crew's on-going construction efforts, and Byrne's impressive array of offbeat characterisations for each new composition. His seemingly inexhaustible supply of static or highly animated fronts for the material reaches stunning heights when he walks on stage in that iconoclastic 'Big Suit'. Lots of bands make a big thing out of having their tours or one-off gigs shot on film instead of video, but Stop Making Sense is an astonishing triumph, and unique in that it's a major movie, not just a filmed celebration of greatest hits. Simply an essential buy for anyone interested in both music and the cinema.

DVD extras: anamorphic widescreen transfer, choice of three soundtracks, storyboards, the band's commentaries, original trailer, and a clip from David Byrne Interviews... David Byrne.


Edited by Tony Lee
for PIGASUS Press