In other words, basically, it was like every Talking Heads show I've ever seen, going back to the CBGBs days when they were still a trio. Which is to say a lot of it was really good and a lot of it was really pretentious in pretty much equal measure. No surprise there, right?
But what did take me aback somewhat was this blurb from the NME that was prominently displayed outside the Hudson Theater as we were waiting on line.
"It may just be the best live show of all time."
I mean -- WTF?
I looked it up, and that was written by some freelance scribbler named Tom Connick -- you can read the review it's excerpted from over here. Make sure you scroll down to the end for the money quote.
I could make merciless fun of it, but the poor guy is probably too young to know how utterly ridiculous it is, so I won't.
However, to put it all in context I thought I'd recycle one of my own finest moments.
A review of mine from Stereo Review back in 1979.
TONIO K.: MINDFOOD
Ladies and gentlemen -- I give you....the greatest album ever recorded!
I can hear you already -- nitpickers, musicologists, the small-minded, owners of Book of Lists toilet paper. What, you cry, of Dennis Brain playing the Mozart horn concertos? What of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, B. B. King's Live at the Regal, Bruno Walter's Mahler Fourth, Sgt. Pepper and John Coltrane's A Love Supreme? Not to mention Nervous Norvus' "Transfusion," John Wayne's "America: Why I Love Her," and the Singing Dogs' "Jingle Bells."
Oh, all right. So I lied. But, honestly, it's the kind of lie that Life in the Foodchain inspires even in as responsible a critic as me. Its creator, Tonio K., is easily twice as angry as Elvis Costello and about six times funnier, and though he spent this decade's middle years in a Southern California booby hatch, rest assured that his songs sound nothing like James Taylor's. What they sound like, actually, is Loudon Wainwright if he'd O.D.'d on the absurdity of American life and then been drafted as the lead singer for Led Zeppelin. Beyond that, it's hard to describe the songs because to do so, or to quote the lyrics, would be like giving away the one-liners in a Woody Allen film.
Let me simply say, then, that Tonio K. thinks that humor is a serious business and that the next big dance craze will be "The Funky Western Civilization." Let me also say that he is the only rocker in memory whose album contains a cameo vocal appearance by Joan of Arc, that his music is bone-crushing rock-and-roll as manic as any punk band's but infinitely more sophisticated, and that his lyrics are so absurdly literate and corrosively cynical that they have reduced me to rolling on the floor from the mere reading of them. To hear them declaimed by Tonio in his marvelously twisted voice while the band conducts an aural demolition derby behind him is the most exciting experience I expect to have in my living room for the remainder of this year.
The bottom line? Tonio K., if not the future, is certainly at least the George Metesky of rock-and-roll. As a matter of fact, I think I'll have to take back my earlier disclaimer: this IS the greatest album ever recorded. -- Steve Simels
And the response it engendered from the artist himself, which we actually ran in the letters section.
Has Simels gone mad? Life in the Foodchain, while certainly a good, great, maybe even swell album, can't possibly be the greatest album ever recorded. James Brown Live at the Apollo is. This can be substantiated with actual documentation. so don't argue with me. And what about the Seeds' first album? And is the cat still in the freezer?
Tonio K., Calabasas, Calif.
Just in case I'm not making the point clear -- I was obviously kidding. Unlike that kid in England.
Have a great weekend, everybody!