Rhino have always had a reputation for putting together some damn fine compilations which work as ideal introductions to the bands in question. The Best of Faces – Good Boys … When They’re Asleep and Permanent Record: The Very Best of Violent Femmes have been much-needed single disc introductions to two bands that may otherwise have remained permanently off of my musical radar. When this Talking Heads compilation was released I was tempted into buying it as my old copy of The Best of – Once in a Lifetime had started to skip and it didn’t really cover the band’s vital early years to my satisfaction. Once again Rhino got it spot on and The Best of Talking Heads became easily the best intro to the band on the market.
For some reason I’ve never felt I needed any of Talking Heads studio albums. I’ve borrowed most of them from my local library and to be honest, they’ve not done much for me on the whole. I’ve enjoyed odd songs, but beyond the awesome Stop Making Sense, I’ve never needed anything more than a Best Of.
I find it difficult to chose my favourite era of Talking Heads, the early years gave us angular wonders like “Love – Building on Fire” and “Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town”, the early 80s brought pop wonders like “Once In A Lifetime” and “Girlfriend Is Better”. Even towards the end of their career they were capable of great singles like “Road To Nowhere” and “Blind”. Sadly this compilation omits two late hits (“Sax And Violins” and “Lifetime Piling Up”) in favour of early angular workouts, but given the fact that it’s the early work that has been such a massive influence on so many subsequent art-rock acts that’s quite understandable.
Sadly there’s no room for any cuts from Stop Making Sense on this best-of, but as these types of compilations tend to shy away from including live tracks, that’s par for the course. On the upside the compilation closes with my all time favourite Talking Heads song, the fantastic “Nothing But Flowers”.
While I would encourage anybody with an interest in Talking Heads to investigate their studio albums just to make sure, down the years I have come to realise that all I personally need is this compilation and Stop Making Sense.