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CD of The Week

Week of 5/20/24

    v/a - Everyone’s Getting Involved: A Tribute to Stop Making Sense (A24)

    Talking Heads covers are far from a novelty... over the years, everyone from Mavis Staples to Tom Jones to Electric Six have taken a crack at their illustrious catalog. But last year drew even more interest to the Rock Hall of Famers, with the theatrical release of the remastered Stop Making Sense, arguably the most influential concert film of all time. With the four Heads burying the hatchet long enough to sit down for some interviews and be civil again for the sake of promoting the film, demand for all things Talking Heads was at a fever pitch. Seeking to capitalize on it all, and to tie into the 40th anniversary Blu-ray of Stop Making Sense this year, film studio A24 assembled a track-by-track tribute to the movie and its setlist.

    While Stop Making Sense famously kicks off with David Byrne playing a minimalist version of “Psycho Killer,” Miley Cyrus goes in the opposite direction, turning it into a Lady Gaga-esque, turbo-charged pop song. It’s the most polarizing track on here for sure. The National tackle “Heaven,” a song Matt Berninger was born to croon. Argentinian band El Mató a un Policía Motorizado cover “Slippery People” in Spanish, which makes perfect sense considering Byrne’s long-time love of Latin music, but their moody rendition actually feels closer to The National themselves.

    Multiple younger, Y-Not friendly artists make an appearance on Everyone’s Getting Involved, including Blondshell, who slows down the galloping “Thank You For Sending Me an Angel,” getting it closer to “Just Like Honey” by The Jesus and Mary Chain. The Linda Lindas groove on a fun, faithful “Found a Job,” though they don’t jam out on its ending as long as the original version. And girl in red tightens up and slightly rearranges “Girlfriend is Better.”

    Paramore have an absolute blast setting everything on fire with their take on “Burning Down the House,” led by Hayley Williams’ powerhouse vocals. Jean Dawson turns the muddy blues of “Swamp” into a dusky, dark country-folk tale. And psychedelic rockers Chicano Batman bring it all home with “Crosseyed and Painless,” recreating every tick and twitch and wiggly guitar.

    There are plenty of very straightforward covers across Everyone’s Getting Involved which are respectable but don’t really stick with you, like Canadian jazz/hip-hop group BADBADNOTGOOD teaming with Norah Jones for the seminal “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)” or Toro y Moi, who takes Tom Tom Club’s oft-sampled “Genius of Love” down a notch while keeping most of its quirks. On the other hand, rapper Teezo Touchdown gives a high-energy performance of “Making Flippy Floppy” but it just seems like he’s doing it to a karaoke backing track. And Kevin Abstract of Brockhampton deconstructs “Once in a Lifetime” but doesn’t really do much interesting with it.

    As with every tribute album, Everyone’s Getting Involved is a mixed bag, with the real draw being the list of artists crossing ages, races, generations, and genres to show the far-reaching influence of Talking Heads. Whether you’ve known these songs for over 40 years or Stop Making Sense just made sense of the Heads to you, it’s worth getting involved with this compilation.
    Review by Joey O.

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