05 July 2013

Talking Heads '75

Less than six months after their first performance, the then three-piece Talking Heads perform a set at CBGB in New York, opening with Psycho Killer. Even the tuning-up sounds good. Jerry Harrison was yet to join the group - he didn't join from the Modern Lovers until 1977, the year of their first album. Three of these songs made it onto that album (Talking Heads '77): the peerless Psycho Killer, the second number, Tentative Decisions, and the cut-short encore, No Compassion. Isn't that nice young David Byrne the politest front-man ever? Love that taut cover of 96 Tears by ? and the Mysterians too. I always wondered what the B-52s were going on about when they referenced that track in Deadbeat Club ('Goin' down to Allen's for a 25 cent beer, and the jukebox playin' real loud, 96 Tears').


Talking Heads CBGB's December 1975 from eric pease on Vimeo.

Set-list:
Psycho Killer
Tentative Decisions
With Our Love
I Wish You Wouldn't Say That
I'm Not In Love
96 Tears
No Compassion (excerpt)

It's worth remembering that Weymouth had only just started to learn bass at her boyfriend Frantz's request. Things were pretty rudimentary back then for the band:
I remember how committed we were, but also how tough it was. We were on Christy [Chrystie] Street, near the Bowery, and it was simply a space that was both affordable and non-residential, so we could play our music. We lived on pasta and cottage cheese. We had no shower and no hot water--just a hot plate and a mini fridge. Our big refrigerator was the window ledge. The toilet was down the hall, and I was the only one who ever cleaned it. But it never really got clean, so eventually I just spraypainted it silver, a la Andy Warhol. 
The whole setup was really unsanitary and dangerous and weird. This was right when Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver came out, and I had to cut off all my hair to avoid being propositioned by pimps on my way to CBGB's. I still looked 15, and after seeing little Jodi Foster in that movie, I just said, "No more!" But I think being absolutely bone poor is the most motivating thing in the world. We were so committed; we rehearsed seven days a week. 
- Tina Weymouth talks to Bass Player magazine, March 1997
See also:
Music: Blondie - A Girl Should Know Better (live, CBGB, 1975)
Music: Television - Poor Circulation (live, CBGB, Jan 1975)
Music: The Ramones - Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue (live, CBGB, Sept 1974)
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