2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 5- PICK 6- APHORISTICAL SELECTS- THE TALKING HEADS- STOP MAKING SENSE

Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads.jpg

2020 Album Draft- Round 5 Pick 6- Aphoristical selects- The Talking Heads- Stop Making Sense.

Aphoristical Album Reviews blog can be found at- https://albumreviews.blog/

When I learned piano as a kid, I wasn’t especially interested in music. It wasn’t until later that I gained some keyboard role models – Freddie Mercury, The Band’s Garth Hudson, and Stevie Wonder were all players who made me wish I’d given more effort to lessons so that I could better emulate them all. My favourite though was Bernie Worrell.


Worrell is best known for his keyboard work with George Clinton’s projects – Parliament and Funkadelic. As much as I enjoy classics like ‘Flashlight’ and ‘Maggot Brain’, it was easier to connect to Worrell’s work on Talking Heads’  Stop Making Sense. The album is a soundtrack for a beloved concert film – directed by Jonathan Demme, Stop Making Sense captures an expanded version of the band blasting through their catalogue, accompanied by memorable visual imagery like the gimmick of the band expanding throughout the early songs and David Byrne’s enormous suit. 


Worrell served as a satellite member of the band as they expanded to beef up their live sound. The core band of Byrne, Jerry Harrison and the married rhythm section of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth were joined by Worrell, Alex Weir on guitar, percussionist Steve Scales, and two female vocalists. The group could sound a little thin on record, especially on their albums without producer Brian Eno, but live they were vibrant.


It’s the numbers from 1983’s Speaking in Tongues that benefit most from the Live treatment. Worrell’s funky synth leads cut through the interlocking guitars on an incendiary live version of ‘Burning Down the House’, and his swooping synth lines on ‘Making Flippy Floppy’ add colour. Jerry Harrison also plays keyboards, and the tandem keys on ‘Life During Wartime’ sound great.



The 16 track expanded version is stronger than the original soundtrack – most impressive is the closer ‘Crosseyed and Painless’ with its polyrhythms and Byrne on lead guitar.



1980s synths are often dismissed as dated and corny, but in the hands of a master like Worrell they sound great, and  Stop Making Sense is an iconic live album.

24 responses to “2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 5- PICK 6- APHORISTICAL SELECTS- THE TALKING HEADS- STOP MAKING SENSE

  1. a talented band for sure! Glad to see a bit more representation from the “new wave” end of the musical spectrum which really defined the ’80s. Also love that Frantz and Weymouth managed to keep career and marriage going simultaneously!

    • I’m actually not super keen on their later stuff – after this record, it largely became David Byrne plus backing band. The others didn’t really get the songwriting input they’d had earlier.

    • They weren’t having huge hit singles – ‘Burning Down The House’ was #9, ‘Wild Wild Life’ was #25, and ‘Take Me To The River’ was #26. They are pretty weird though….

  2. This is one of the artists in the 80s that I truly liked. They were so different yet really accessible…I like the musician connection…I have a few like that.

  3. This is a cool pick. They were a fascinating group. The day is getting away from me, but I want to listen to the whole album. I’m glad for your insight on the keyboard player. I’d only ever paid attention to David Byrne. I’m glad he’s still active and respected.

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