Talking Heads fans can say, “Never say never,” all they want, but it looks increasingly like the only place to see and hear any live performances by the long dormant band is here. Chronology compiles career-spanning footage from the quartet’s earliest days in 1975 at CBGB to its 2002 reunion during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
On “I’m Not in Love” the brittle staccato guitar riffs and busy bassline were the polar opposite of the power chords doled out during mid-‘70s the arena rockers. Back then frontman David Byrne looked painfully shy in front of a crowd, even if it was in the club atmosphere of CBGB. One of the more revealing things about “Chronology” is watching him, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz transform from their focused insular world to one that’s open, vibrant and mimics the material’s funk and African influences on songs such as “Animals” and “Crosseyed and Painless.” With the changes in styles also comes an expanded lineup that includes permanent member Jerry Harrison.
It’s testament to the excitement brought about by these 18 globetrotting clips that one can only hope that this is the first step towards the release of full concerts on CD and DVD.
The concert segments are augmented by some backstage scenes and television appearances on Saturday Night Live and Old Grey Whistle Test. During American Bandstand an interview by host Dick Clark followed “Take Me to the River. ” In reply to a question about the group’s dreams Weymouth said, “We want to make our mark on music history.” The group did that many times over, and Chronology solidly reinforces that.
Bonus features include audio commentary by all four members, a 35-minute documentary on the band made in 1979 and an interview with Byrne in 1978. A deluxe version is packaged in a hardback cover and includes a 48-page book with photos and the unedited version of Lester Bangs’ 1979 “Village Voice” essay/review of Fear of Music.