Thursday, May 26, 2011

Talking Heads - "Cities" (Alternate Version)

When the Talking Heads reissued their entire catalog a few years back, there was a lot to take in. Not only were all the records released in 5.1 surround sound, but they were remastered and included a whole slew of bonus tracks. We were so enamored with the 5.1 remasters (which didn't include the bonus tracks), that we only just started digesting all the awesome bonus material that's on the stereo sides of these discs.

Case in point: an alternate take on "Cities", from Fear Of Music. While the take on the song is, on the surface, very similar, it actually has a dynamic and feel that is vastly differentiated. Notably, the bass line is turned WAY up in the mix, synths are ricocheting all over the place, and Byrne's vocals are even more aggressive than in the freaked out original. Combine that with the fact that the track ends on a resolve, rather than fading out, and you have yourself a wholly different piece of music.

It seems as though all great bands spend a lot of time iterating on their work, to find the sweet spot where everything truly clicks. Obviously this is true with the Talking Heads, and the alternate take on "Cities" illustrates just how much the subtleties of mix and production can contribute to the feel of a final record. Having that insight not only makes the band a more dynamic entity, but also illustrates exactly why they are noted by so many admirers as explorers of the new.