Ever wondered what the Talking Heads mid-80s records would have sounded like had they been recorded specifically for They Might Be Giants' Dial-a-Song? Here's your parallel universe proof. David Byrne, a couple of guitars, a drum machine, a sampling keyboard, and a 4-track, laying down his poppiest material to date. Sound intriguing?
On paper, definitely. Though I've gradually come to agree with the aging lame-asses who've always said the early Talking Heads records are the best ones, I still think that Little Creatures and True Stories contain their most purely enjoyable songs. This was baldly Top 40 material from the get-go, no bones about it, and listening to the demos you get the impression that David Byrne knew exactly what he was doing. Though it's still unclear if his sudden foray into completely straightforward bubblegum pop was ironic or not. It probably was, but in any event it would take a lot more cynicism than even Byrne can muster to sink songs this catchy.
Now, that said, listening to the demos is nowhere near as exciting as simply hearing about the demos. Aside from a few mumbled lyrics here and there, the songs are fully formed, so they're basically just bloodless, sleepwalking alternatives to the studio versions.
Had David Byrne died before Little Creatures was recorded, this would be a baffling little coda to his career, raising all sorts of questions as to what the hell was happening to him (particularly on stuff like the "Ha, this sampler is hilarious!" instrumental "Hey" and the mushmouthed "world music" pose of "Papa Legba"). As it is, though, these are simply obsolete recordings. If you like the songs, you'll surely want to hear these lo-fi bedroom-pop versions but probably just once or twice before filing the thing away.
In contrast to the slickness of the final productions, these demos aren't so much a revelation as a slightly embarrassing peek behind the curtain, like when you inadvertently walk in on Pamela Anderson massaging her hemmorhoids. What, I can't be the only one that's happened to.
Review by "Fierce" Pierce Pettipong