Talking Heads ‘Stop Making Sense’ Concert Album: New Reissue

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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Talking Heads, October 25, 2023. (Photo: Scott Kowalchyl/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved)

In a continued celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Talking Heads and Jonathan Demme concert film Stop Making Sense, the album will be re-released as a 2-LP and 2-CD/Blu-ray set on July 26, 2024, featuring a 12-page booklet with liner notes from all four band members –Tina Weymouth, David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Jerry Harrison—and band photos. The 2-CD/Blu-ray version includes the entire 28-page booklet from 2023’s Deluxe Edition, which sold-out, and a Dolby Atmos mix of the complete concert, mixed by Harrison and E.T. Thorngren, who also mixed the original release. It’s available for pre-order in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

The acclaimed concert film, documenting the band’s 1983 tour, started streaming on Max, as of May 3, following its theatrical run last year and again over the winter of its 2023 complete 4K restoration. Watch the official trailer below.

When the restored film ran in theaters in fall 2023, it had a box-office take of $5 million, surpassing the amount of the film’s entire, original theatrical run in 1984.

Watch the official trailer for the restored edition

The film’s 40th anniversary milestone is being commemorated with A Night of Stop Making Sense, two screening events on June 4 at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Pantages and June 13 at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, N.Y. All four members of Talking Heads will be on hand in both cities for post-screening fan Q&As. Academy Award-winning filmmaker, GRAMMY Award winning musician and New York Times best-selling author, and member of The Roots Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson will moderate the NYC event.

A Talking Heads reunion took place for the first time in two decades when the four members participated in a Q&A to promote the newly restored 4K version of their great 1984 concert film. The event, with David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison, took place at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11. The interview was moderated by filmmaker Spike Lee, who gushed, “This is the greatest concert film ever.” (The TIFF showing represented the movie’s IMAX world premiere.)

At the Q-and-A following the screening, Harrison was quoted by The New York Times. “One of the reasons for the lasting power of the film is you see that we are having so much fun onstage,” he said, adding that “the audience is brought right into it. We say, you’re part of this too. And I think that every time anybody watches it, it brings back that wonderful emotion.”

The four members have continued to make promotional appearances to plug the reissue. CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert had announced that Talking Heads would appear on Oct. 18, but the host was ill and thus did not tape his show that week.

On Oct. 20, the band posted an update that their appearance would take place on Oct. 25. “See you next Wednesday,” they cheerfully announced on their Facebook page. Fans immediately began to speculate as to whether it would involve an interview, a performance, or both. Others wondered about a reunion tour, many even lobbying for the group to play their city.

The start of the lengthy segment began with Colbert asking them what it was like when the band released their first album in 1977. “We were so excited by the critical reception,” said Frantz, “but we were still playing to [just] 50 people.”

“In Pittsburgh, we played at a pizza parlor and the opening act was a fire eater,” said Byrne. “And we played a Beefsteak Charlie’s in Yonkers.”

“Jerry and I were dressed in the same outfits as the waiters,” added Weymouth, laughing.

Byrne was asked what he thought of the description “art rock,” which was often used to identify their music. “It implied that we were snooty elites,” he replied.

Frantz called Stop Making Sense “a beautiful movie and my wife is in it… What a babe!”

Following a second commercial break, Colbert stated was has been on the minds of their dedicated audience. “The last couple of decades, there’s been some friction. Is that all water under the bridge?”

Frantz responded eloquently. “We’ve all said things and done things that the others didn’t approve. But I think we love each other and we’ve made such great music together and we need to protect our legacy, which is so great.”

Colbert’s question as to whether the band would ever play together again essentially went unanswered.

As the segment wound up, Colbert asked Byrne what the phrase “stop making sense” means. “Don’t be so rational all the time… trust your instincts… trust your feelings. And see what happens.”

The four members kept it straight at their Sept. 11 reunion in Toronto. Vulture.com’s apt headline was “Talking Heads Burn Down the House, Not One Another, at TIFF.” Byrne praised the film’s director, Demme, who died in 2017. “You watch how [the band] all interact with one another. And I thought [at the time], I’m in my own world. But he saw that, he saw what was going on there.”

Watch a fan video of the Q-and-A

David Byrne still fits in the iconic big suit

The last Talking Heads reunion was at their March 18, 2002, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when they performed four songs (“Psycho Killer,” “Life During Wartime,” “Burning Down the House” and “Take Me To the River”). Their last tour took place in 1983-84.

The Stop Making Sense reissue features every song performed in the film, including two that had never been released – “Cities” and “Big Business” / “I Zimbra.” The limited edition vinyl version features a 28-page booklet with previously unpublished photos along with new liner notes from all four band members.

On April 7, 2023, several weeks after the original announcement, the band shared more exciting news. “After a worldwide search, the original negative of Stop Making Sense has been found! We will make the new 4K version from it and it will look more striking than ever.”

More from the original 2023 announcement: The inspiration for Stop Making Sense came when Demme saw Talking Heads perform during the band’s 1983 tour for their studio album, Speaking in Tongues. Afterward, he approached them with the idea of making the show into a concert film. They agreed and worked together over the next few months to finalize the details. Ultimately, Demme filmed three shows at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983 to create Stop Making Sense.

The newly restored concert film presents a retrospective of the band up to that point, with a performance that weaves together songs from all six of its studio albums. The show progresses methodically, opening with Byrne onstage performing “Psycho Killer” alone with a drum machine. After each song, he’s joined by a new band member until Weymouth, Frantz, and Harrison are all on stage with him. The group continues to grow throughout the concert as members of the stellar touring band are added: keyboardist Bernie Worrell, percussionist Steve Scales, guitarist Alex Weir, and back-up singers Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt.

The band performs 18 songs in Stop Making Sense, including its single at the time, “Burning Down the House.” That summer, the song was in heavy rotation on radio and MTV, helping the song become the band’s first top 10 hit in America. It was, however, a different song from Speaking in Tongues that was destined to deliver one of the film’s signature moments. Byrne would perform “Girlfriend Is Better” wearing his now iconic, oversized business suit inspired by costumes worn in traditional Japanese theater. For good measure, a picture of him in the suit also graces the album cover.

Stop Making Sense focuses mainly on music by Talking Heads but does include a few songs recorded outside the band: “Genius Of Love” by Tom Tom Club, Weymouth and Frantz’s side-project, and “What A Day That Was” and “Big Business” from Byrne’s 1981 album, The Catherine Wheel.

Stop Making Sense was an artistic and commercial triumph when it arrived in September 1984. The film had people dancing in theatre aisles while the soundtrack sold over two million copies. In 2022, the Library of Congress added Stop Making Sense to the National Film Registry in recognition of its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.

In the Stop Making Sense (Deluxe Edition) liner notes, the four band members share their thoughts and memories of the project.

Weymouth praises Demme as a collaborator: “…Jonathan was a very enthusiastic, highly adaptive, and imaginative guy who was just as good a listener as he was a talker and collaborator. From the get-go you just got the impression he was as flexible as he was disciplined. Being team players, that boded well for a great relationship and a great film!”

Byrne says it’s interesting that this album was – for many people – an introduction to Talking Heads. “We had done a live album before this, but coupled with the film, and with the improved mixes and sound quality, this record reached a whole new audience. As often happens, the songs got an added energy when we performed them live and were inspired by having an audience. In many ways, these versions are more exciting than the studio recordings, so maybe that’s why a lot of folks discovered us via this record.”

Related: Our review of “one of the best-sounding live albums ever”

Stop Making Sense (Deluxe Edition) Limited Edition 2-LP Track Listing

Side One
1. “Psycho Killer”
2. “Heaven”
3. “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel’
4. “Found A Job”
5. “Slippery People”
6. “Cities” *

Side Two
1. “Burning Down The House”
2. “Life During Wartime”
3. “Making Flippy Floppy”
4. “Swamp”

Side Three
1. “What a Day That Was”
2. “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”
3. “Once In A Lifetime”
4. “Big Business / I Zimbra” *

Side Four
1. “Genius Of Love”
2. “Girlfriend Is Better”
3. “Take Me To The River”
4. “Crosseyed And Painless”

* Previously Unreleased

Related: Our Album Rewind of the Heads’ Fear of Music

Best Classic Bands Staff
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6 Comments so far

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  1. rrbbkk
    #1 rrbbkk 17 March, 2023, 11:39

    I miss talking heads more than I miss being 25 years old. — R. age 65

    Reply this comment
    • Cat
      Cat 18 March, 2023, 11:32

      Interesting! Yup, they were ahead of their time. Looking forward to this new release.

      Reply this comment
  2. Tystick
    #2 Tystick 8 July, 2023, 01:01

    I can’t wait to see the film and get the remastered soundtrack. Hopefully it will be released in CD format which, imo, is superior to vinyl. I’ve been a fan of theirs since 1978.

    Reply this comment
  3. Pedro
    #3 Pedro 11 July, 2023, 14:44

    Saw it live still watch it love it love it was one of the best live performances I ever saw. Can’t wait to see it on the screen again.

    Reply this comment
  4. Colorado Slim
    #4 Colorado Slim 18 October, 2023, 10:20

    Even if you saw the original, if you haven’t yet seen the remastered and expanded film at a theater–on a big screen with big audio, I suggest you make the effort. Highly, highly recommended. I had goosebumps at a number of points during the flick. Best live show movie ever? Not sure, but it’s certainly up there.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rollbert
    #5 Rollbert 21 October, 2023, 12:37

    Saw this tour at the amphitheater on University of Berkeley Ca. A top ten concert, the whole place was electrified and dancing.

    Reply this comment

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