Talking Heads performing Live
(Credit: Jean-Luc)

Watch Talking Heads play a smooth ‘Take Me To The River’ live in New York City, 1978

We’re dipping into the Far Out vaults to bring you David Byrne and Talking Heads laying down some serious groove with their iconic cover of ‘Take me to the River’ live at the Entermedia Theatre in New York back in 1978.

The band were in the middle of their sudden upswing and were riding the crest of the new wave alongside acts like Elvis Costello and Blondie as the new, more thoughtful, face of punk attitude. It may have only been a few years on from punk’s explosion, but Talking Heads were the new alternative.

The band had formed in 1975 having discarded their previous name for their incarnation, The Artistics. Instead, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and David Byrne arrived in New York City from Rhode Island School of Design ready to change NYC.

Talking Heads would go on to define the city. They were the nerdy brothers and sisters of punk, the bookworm clique of art-nerds who would not only run alongside the punk rock explosion but would go on to create the new wave of rock that would dominate the upcoming decade.

In 1978, with their debut album Talkings Heads 77 in the bag and already finding fame with lead single ‘Psycho Killer’ the fervour around the band was growing and Byrne’s eccentric playing style was drawing in a crowd. When the group invited Jerry Harrison, an ex-Modern Lover with Jonathan Richman, suddenly the band clicked into overdrive and would begin their ascent to the pinnacle of new wave.

On August 10th in 1978, with their first of a lucrative collaboration with Brian Eno providing their latest record More Songs About Buildings and Food and critical success, the band were on the tour path and arrived for their second night at the Entermedia Theatre in New York for another special show.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see a Talking Heads show you will know that they are unlike any other. No two are the same and every spontaneous moment of joy feels in the moment and utterly transfixing. If you’re not lucky enough to have seen the group live then take a look back at this performance of the band singing their iconic cover of Al Green’s ‘Take me to the River’.

In the below footage you can see a video excerpt of a longer film Warner Bros. took of the band by way of promotion that night in August. As well as the ‘Take me to the River’ cover there are some other songs from the two aforementioned records which shine in the theatre lights.

But for our money, the choral performance of Green’s classic is a perfect distillation of what made Talking Heads one of the best band new wave ever produced.

  • Found a Job (intro)
  • Uh Oh, Love Comes to Town
  • The Girls Want to be With the Girls
  • The Good Thing
  • Take me to the River
  • Found a Job
  • Thank you for Sending me an Angel
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