Once in a Lifetime

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Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
You can't always judge a book -- or a box set -- by its cover, but in the case of this retrospective of the artiest element in New York's first punk generation, it's fairly safe to do so. After all, the odd-sized 16 3/4" x 5 1/4", uniquely constructed collection -- which looks more like a high-end art book than a set of compact discs -- fits perfectly with the off-kilter aesthetic that David Byrne and company exuded in their time together. Once in a Lifetime cherry-picks the Talking Heads' best-known material, from early churners like "Psycho Killer" to more ornate latter-day favorites like "Nothing but Flowers," but the set also puts more shadowy material into focus. ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
You can't always judge a book -- or a box set -- by its cover, but in the case of this retrospective of the artiest element in New York's first punk generation, it's fairly safe to do so. After all, the odd-sized 16 3/4" x 5 1/4", uniquely constructed collection -- which looks more like a high-end art book than a set of compact discs -- fits perfectly with the off-kilter aesthetic that David Byrne and company exuded in their time together. Once in a Lifetime cherry-picks the Talking Heads' best-known material, from early churners like "Psycho Killer" to more ornate latter-day favorites like "Nothing but Flowers," but the set also puts more shadowy material into focus. The band's earliest singles, "Love Goes to Building on Fire" and "Uh, Oh Love Comes to Town," are not only aired but, in the case of the latter, presented in an alternate version laced with steel drums. Byrne even went back to the band's embryonic phase to cull the charmingly raw, previously unreleased "Sugar on My Tongue." Diehards will find other compelling cuts tucked away on the three audio discs: An alternate take of "Drugs" spotlights Robert Fripp's angular guitar line, while "A Clean Break," which never made it onto a studio album, is presented in a fast-and-furious concert setting. The collection is rounded out by a DVD version of the Heads' 1988 video collection, Storytelling Giant, expanded from its original issue by three clips, including the hazy "Sax and Violins" the accompaniment for a song that appeared in Wim Wenders's Until the End of the World. The set's extensive 80-page booklet features commentaries from the band members and others, a detailed time line, and archival photos. There's plenty to free your mind in these grooves, and plenty of incentive for your ass to follow.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Talking Heads are one of a handful of seminal rock bands whose catalog has been curiously overlooked in the CD era. Their albums have not been remastered, their legendary 1982 double-live album, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads, has never made it to disc, and apart from 1992's Popular Favorites 1976-1992: Sand in the Vaseline, there has been no retrospective assembled to make matters worse, in the U.K. that set was condensed to the single-disc The Best of Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime. So, Rhino/WSM's 2003 box set Once in a Lifetime sure, the title is repeated, but what else could it reasonably be called? is noteworthy for many reasons, because it marks the first remastering of the group's catalog and the new sound is terrific, marks the first time any of The Name of This Band reached CD alas, there's only one cut, "A Clean Break Let's Work," which never made it to another album, unearths a few rarities, and most importantly, provides an excellent three-disc retrospective on this seminal quartet. These three discs run 54 tracks, which is quite a bit more generous than it sounds, since all Talking Heads' studio albums apart from their last, 1988's Naked, are represented by over half of their songs counting alternate takes, but not outtakes; these alternates are notably but not radically different, though "Cities" has brand new words, often coming three or four cuts from the total. Thematically, the three discs are sharply arranged, accentuating different eras for the band. After three early sides, all found on Sand in the Vaseline, the first disc is largely devoted to the debut Talking Heads: 77 and its 1978 sequel, More Songs About Buildings and Food. Instead of following strict chronological order on this collection, the two albums are interwoven, to play up at first the tense, nervy post-punk of early Talking Heads, and then it steadily reveals their growing immersion in funk and African rhythms. This has the effect of slightly downplaying Brian Eno's contributions to More Songs, but he returns to the forefront on disc two, which captures Talking Heads at their creative peak for 1979's Fear of Music, 1980's Remain in Light, and 1983's Speaking in Tongues, which is when their collaboration with Eno ended. This is the sound of classic Talking Heads -- David Byrne spitting out frenzied, fractured words over the tightly wound yet supple art-funk grooves laid down by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, given melodic flair by Jerry Harrison. It's filled with timeless moments: "I Zimbra" filtering Fela Kuti through the New York boho punk; the deliriously paranoid "Life During Wartime," as potent during the war on terrorism as it was during the cold war; the brilliant "Once in a Lifetime," still Byrne's signature piece; "Crosseyed and Painless," spinning early hip-hop into uptight punk-funk; the Technicolor burst of "Burning Down the House," the single that brought them into the Top Ten; the sweet, aching "This Must Be the Place Naive Melody." Disc three deals with the aftermath of this brilliant run. At first, the group scaled the groove back and turned toward relatively straight-ahead pop with 1985's Little Creatures, represented here by such songs as "And She Was," "Stay Up Late," and the careening "Road to Nowhere," all of which retain their potency. After that, the box loses momentum as Talking Heads lost momentum, stumbling through the film project True Stories which did produce a couple of pretty good songs in "Wild Wild Life," "Love for Sale," and "People Like Us" before ending after the worldbeat inclinations of Naked containing the excellent "Nothing But Flowers" and the pretty good "Blind"; "In Asking Land" was an outtake released here for the first time, and it's not particularly noteworthy. If Once in a Lifetime does run out of steam toward the end, it has to be said that it doesn't outstay its welcome, and apart from a track or two at the very end, this is a compelling, entertaining listen from start to finish. Although it bypasses Stop Making Sense entirely, it's not missed, and it's hard to quibble with the track selection "The Great Curve" is the only song that perhaps should have been here but isn't, and for only one song out of eight albums, that's not bad at all, which means Once in a Lifetime is about a good of a retrospective as could be imagined, if judged just on musical terms. But this box set offers more than music. There's a fourth disc, a DVD that is an expanded version of their video collection Storytelling Giant, containing all the group's videos by adding clips from True Stories, Naked, and Sand in the Vaseline to the original programming. This is hardly padding or an extra feature; it's an integral part of the box set, since there was always a strong visual element to Talking Heads, and they were one of the great pioneers in music video. Watching the videos of Storytelling Giant now, decades after their original release, it's startling how they remain fresh even as their production techniques age. "Once in a Lifetime," "Burning Down the House," and "And She Was" are still played frequently, at least on VH1-Classic, but lesser-known videos for "Crosseyed and Painless" and "Road to Nowhere" are equally vibrant and that's to say nothing about the nostalgia trip "Love for Sale" provides; intended as a commentary on advertising, it's now a time capsule of slogans, logos, and lingo from ads from 1986, making it a delight for entirely different reasons than the rest of the collection. While the DVD is more than welcome, the packaging is a little problematic. It's designed as a long narrow book, with rather garishly precious artwork, and the discs are inserted into pouches within the covers of the book. This design makes it difficult to read the numerous essays, which are all designed as reminiscences, whether it's from all four bandmembers, rock critic David Fricke, novelist Rick Moody, performance artist Maggie Estep, or other assorted New York luminaries. These are generally good and interesting, and the collection of press clippings of the time is rather brilliant, but a basic history would have been welcome. Then again, this set isn't really designed to be read or played -- it's designed to be looked at once or twice, then sat on the shelf. Which is too bad, because those three CDs are everything a Talking Heads retrospective should be and the DVD is essential viewing. It's enough to keep the box from being essential itself.
Blender - Tom Moon
The music transcends its era, as the excellent remastering shows.

The music transcends its era, as the excellent remastering shows.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/18/2003
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227393427
  • Catalog Number: 73934

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Sugar on My Tongue (2:35)
  2. 2 Love --> Building on Fire (2:59)
  3. 3 I Wish You Wouldn't Say That (2:37)
  4. 4 Don't Worry About the Government (3:00)
  5. 5 Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town (2:55)
  6. 6 New Feeling (3:03)
  7. 7 Pulled Up (4:30)
  8. 8 Psycho Killer (4:20)
  9. 9 Warning Sign (3:55)
  10. 10 Artists Only (3:35)
  11. 11 Tentative Decisions (3:07)
  12. 12 No Compassion (4:49)
  13. 13 Stay Hungry (2:41)
  14. 14 I'm Not in Love (4:34)
  15. 15 The Book I Read (4:09)
  16. 16 Thank You for Sending Me an Angel (2:13)
  17. 17 Found a Job (5:01)
  18. 18 A Clean Break (4:57)
  19. 19 Take Me to the River (5:04)
  20. 20 The Big Country (5:31)
  21. 21 Heaven (4:01)
Disc 2
  1. 1 I Zimbra (3:07)
  2. 2 Cities (5:27)
  3. 3 Life During Wartime (3:41)
  4. 4 Air (3:32)
  5. 5 Memories Can't Wait (3:30)
  6. 6 Drugs (3:33)
  7. 7 Once in a Lifetime (4:20)
  8. 8 Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (5:47)
  9. 9 Listening Wind (4:41)
  10. 10 Houses in Motion (4:31)
  11. 11 Crosseyed and Painless (4:45)
  12. 12 Burning Down the House (4:01)
  13. 13 Making Flippy Floppy (5:54)
  14. 14 Girlfriend Is Better (5:43)
  15. 15 Slippery People (5:05)
  16. 16 Swamp (5:10)
  17. 17 This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (4:56)
Disc 3
  1. 1 And She Was (3:39)
  2. 2 Stay Up Late (3:44)
  3. 3 Creatures of Love (4:15)
  4. 4 The Lady Don't Mind (4:04)
  5. 5 Road to Nowhere (4:20)
  6. 6 Wild Wild Life (3:41)
  7. 7 Love for Sale (4:31)
  8. 8 People Like Us (4:29)
  9. 9 Puzzlin' Evidence (5:23)
  10. 10 City of Dreams (5:09)
  11. 11 Blind (5:00)
  12. 12 Mr. Jones (4:21)
  13. 13 The Democratic Circus (5:04)
  14. 14 (Nothing But) Flowers (5:33)
  15. 15 In Asking Land (3:58)
  16. 16 Sax and Violins (5:18)
  17. 17 Lifetime Piling Up (3:53)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Once in a Lifetime
  2. 2 Wild Wild Life
  3. 3 Stay Up Late
  4. 4 Blind
  5. 5 Crosseyed and Painless
  6. 6 Burning Down the House
  7. 7 And She Was
  8. 8 Sax and Violins
  9. 9 This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
  10. 10 The Lady Don't Mind
  11. 11 Love for Sale
  12. 12 Nothing But) Flowers
  13. 13 Road to Nowhere
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Talking Heads Primary Artist
Wally Badarou Synthesizer, Keyboards
Jon Hassell Trumpet
Mory Kanté Kora
Naná Vasconcelos Percussion
David Byrne Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals, Bells, Synthesizer Drums, Group Member
Jerry Harrison Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Keyboards, Marimbas, Hammond Organ, Background Vocals, Group Member
Kirsty MacColl Background Vocals
Bernie Worrell Synthesizer
Robin Eubanks Trombone
Charlie Sepulveda Trumpet
Nona Hendryx Background Vocals
Eric Weissberg Dobro, Steel Guitar
Gordon Grody Background Vocals
Shankar Violin
Tawatha Agee Background Vocals
Manolo Badrena Conga, Shaker, cowbell, Wood Block
Ellen Bernfield Background Vocals
Moussa Cissokho Conga
Paulinho Da Costa Percussion
Raphael Dejesus Percussion
Erin Dickens Background Vocals
Brian Eno Synthesizer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Background Vocals
Angel Fernandez Trumpet
Chris Frantz Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Tambourine, Group Member
Laurie Frink Trumpet
Robert Fripp Guitar
Mitch Frohman Alto Saxophone
Earl Gardner Trumpet
Diva Gray Background Vocals
Lani Groves Background Vocals
Stan Harrison Alto Saxophone
Richard Landry Saxophone
Julie Last Background Vocals
Abdou M'Boup Conga, cowbell, talking drum
Johnny Marr 12-string Guitar
Tom Morrell Pedal Steel Guitar
Yves N'Djock Guitar
Lenny Pickett Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Bobby Porcelli Alto Saxophone
Jose Rossy Percussion
Steve Sacks Baritone Saxophone
Steve Scales Percussion
Sweetbreathes Background Vocals
Sydney Thiam Conga
Dale Turk Bass Trombone
David Van Tieghem Percussion
Brice Wassy Shaker, cowbell, Wood Block
Alex Weir Guitar
Lani Weymouth Group Member
Laura Weymouth Group Member
Tina Weymouth Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Keyboards, Background Vocals, String Bass, Group Member
Gene Wilder Conga
Al Acosta Tenor Saxophone
Andrew Cader Washboard
Steve Elfon Baritone Saxophone
Steve Gluzband Trumpet
Dolette MacDonald Background Vocals
Jimmy Macdonell Accordion
Tommy Camfield Fiddle
Bert Choir Cross Background Vocals
Ari Wilder Conga
Jóse "Ito" Jérez Trumpet
Kurt Yahijian Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Jon Hassell Horn Arrangements
David Byrne Composer, Liner Notes, Concept, Video Producer, Video Director
Al Green Composer
Jerry Harrison Composer, Liner Notes, Concept
Steve Morse Author
Talking Heads Producer
Toni Basil Video Director
Tom Harrison Author
Joe Barbaria Engineer
Tony Bongiovi Producer
Hugh Brown Creative Supervision
Chris Carroll Author
John Miller Chernoff Author
Brian Eno Composer, Producer
James Farber Engineer
Angel Fernandez Horn Arrangements
Chris Frantz Composer, Liner Notes, Concept
Michael Gross Author
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges Composer
Dave Jerden Engineer
Butch Jones Engineer
Nick Launay Producer
Steve Lillywhite Producer
Bob Ludwig Remastering
Richard Manwaring Engineer
Yves N'Djock Composer
Jack Nuber Engineer
Rod O'Brien Engineer
Gary Peterson Annotation
Lenny Pickett Horn Arrangements
Johnny Potoker Engineer
Lance Quinn Producer, Horn Arrangements
Alex Sadkin Engineer
Jay Scott Author
Ed Stasium Engineer
Mark Wallis Engineer
Wim Wenders Video Director
Tina Weymouth Composer, Liner Notes, Concept
David Wild Creative Consultant
Maggie Estep Liner Notes
Mark Spector Producer
Neal Teeman Engineer
Paul Christiansen Engineer
Rhett Davis Engineer
Russ DeVault Author
Steve Hirsch Cinematography
Lance Loud Author
Anthony DeCurtis Author
Bruce Pilato Author
Roy Trakin Author
Brad Baker Horn Arrangements
Jim Jarmusch Video Director
Larry Kelp Author
Joe Nick Patoski Author
Fernando Kral Engineer
Marc Kirkeby Author
Steven Chean Editorial Research
Ted Bafaloukos Video Director
Jim Blashfield Video Producer, Video Director
Robert Christgan Author
Anatole Dauman Video Producer
Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson Video Producer
Alan Lewis Kleinberg Video Producer
Ira Mayer Author
Melvin Sokolsky Video Director
James Wolcott Author
Jonathan Taplin Video Producer
Greg Tate Author
Rabindranath Tagore Poetry
Hugo Ball Composer
Wayne Zieve Composer
Mike McClain Engineer
Stephen Stanley Engineer
Tina Silvey Video Producer
Mikal Gilmore Author
Tim Scanlin Liner Note Coordination
Max Bell Author
Sandy McLeod Video Producer
Michael Aron Author
Jacques Attali Quotes Researched & Compiled
Joe Beirne Video Producer
Robyn Bensinger Video Producer
Robert Blau Author
Aurobindo Bose translation
Debra Burchett Lee Author
Jim Czarnecki Video Producer
Vladimir Dubossarsky Cover Painting
Mary Gaitskill Liner Notes
Dick Hebdige Liner Notes
Annabel Jankel Video Director
Judy Jarvis Author
Tibor Kalman Video Producer, Video Director
Peter Kobel Author
Roman Kozak Author
William LAmato Author
William Leith Author
Tony Liose Author
Melissa Marsland Video Producer
Michael Maslow Video Producer
Ed McCormack Author
Bill Melo Author
Joyce Millman Author
James Nold Jr. Author
Craig Zeller Author
Alexander Vinogradov Cover Painting
Pete Oppel Author
Michael Owen Video Producer
Frank Veldkamp Web Design
Mark Peel Author
Lynn VanMatre Author
John Podhoretz Author
Steve Pond Author
Carter Ratcliff Author
Frank Rose Author
Stefan Sagmeister Art Direction
Munro Sickafoose Author
Sylvie Simmons Author
Ken Tucker Author
Kyoichi Tsuzuki Liner Notes
Paul Tassie Creative Consultant
Amanda Stern Collage
Tom Carson Author
Rick Moody Liner Notes
John Rockwell Author
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A gorgeous gift

    I have heard a lot of people complain about this boxset for 3 reasons - the price, the way in which it's presented, and the material within. Honestly though... aren't those the top 3 things to complain about when discussing a piece of art? I work at a music and book store, and even with my discount, the price tag was daunting. However, this box set caught my eye even before I knew it was a Talking Heads set. Perched above all the other CDs, the size of the set, and the lovely art work that was painted across it stood out to me. Once I read that it was from the Talking Heads, I knew I wanted it (more for my mother than myself). Yes, the artwork is strange, and yes, it is out there - but aren't the Talking Heads? Isn't David Byrne? Both the band and this boxset are weird and wonderful, in the most perfect ways possible. As for the complaints about this box set having basically every track previously released..... hello? It's a box set. Part of a box set is containing all the previously released tracks of said artist, along with extra material. I love the DVD that comes with the 3 CDs, as well as the in-box booklet, complete with photos, essays, and memorable pieces of art. The "box" alone that it comes in is worth it for me. This is not a box set for the music freak who already owns every Talking Heads album, song, and concert DVD, just so that they can say "Hey, I own every Talking Heads song EVER." This box set is for the person who loves the Talking Heads, and who can say with great confidence that the Talking Heads and their music were a large part of their lives. I grew up listening to Talking Heads - I'm now 19, and this box set means a lot to me. If you, or someone you know, would treasure this for what it is, then it would make a tremendous gift.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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