November 28, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Once In a Lifetime

Current Status
In Season
Warner Bros.
Reissues, Rock
We gave it an A-

TALKING HEADS Once in a Lifetime (Rhino/Warner)

In their prime (’77 to ’84), Talking Heads were the most relentlessly inventive band on the planet. Led by their brilliant Beat poet of the modern age, David Byrne, the art-damaged New York quartet created jittery, idea-dense music that telegraphed the emotional dislocation of self-aware urban dwellers. This stunningly produced three-CD box (there’s also a DVD of their videos) moves from the perky pretentio-pop of ”Psycho Killer” to the Afro-rock experiments on Remain in Light and on to the uninspired final period (MTV-friendly piffle like ”Wild Wild Life”). In other words, avoid the last disc, groove on the first two, and ruminate on the strange beauty of this sui generis body of work.

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