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Music Review: Miley Cyrus, Lorde and more team up for fun Talking Heads’ ‘Stop Making Sense’ tribute

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In 1984, Talking Heads ‘ concert film and live album “Stop Making Sense” captured the alt-rock quartet at the height of their powers.

Forty years later, a new 4K restoration of the film is streaming on MAX, and A24 Music has released “Everyone’s Getting Involved: A Tribute to Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense.”

The album features contributions from 16 recording artists covering each track on “Stop Making Sense.”

The sheer variety of talent — everyone from Miley Cyrus to the National — is appropriate for a band that freely incorporated punk, funk, global pop and early hip-hop elements. This tribute to an endlessly inventive band should please old fans and inspire some new ones.

Cyrus comes in like a wrecking ball on the first track, reimaging the spare “Psycho Killer” as a full-blown dance anthem. She makes some bizarre changes to the lyrics: “I love you psycho killer / I’m-a love you forever / You know I’ll never run away,” she sings.

The others play it a little safer.

The National follow the opening track with an earthy rendition of the lovely ballad, “Heaven.” Later, Paramore offers a faithful rendition of “Burning Down the House.” Both are meticulously executed, but it is hard not to wonder what greater risks might have yielded.

Lorde offers a different angle on “Take Me to the River.” Where Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne’s reedy vocals register as a plea on his band’s take on the Al Green song, Lorde is clearly in control and delivers lyrics like commands.

girl in red’s “Girlfriend is Better” alters the narrative — kicking off with the chorus instead of the first verse, like in the original version.

Norah Jones, gently backed by Canadian band BadBadNotGood, treats “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” like raw honey. Talking Heads composed the song by switching instruments among the bandmates, and the new rendition is faithful to the playful nature of the original.

The tribute also features some terrific contributions from up-and-coming artists.

Blondshell, the musical moniker of Los Angeles musician Sabrina Teitelbaum, shines on “Thank You for Sending Me an Angel” with soaring vocals over power chords.

The Linda Lindas follow Blondshell with an energetic rendition of “Found a Job.” They play it fast and tight and, among the artists on this tribute, perhaps best capture the goofy fun that was so central to the Talking Heads’ appeal.

Some of the artists take the transformation further.

DJ Tunez delivers a slowed-down, haunting “Life During Wartime,” conveying the soul-crushing exhaustion of protracted conflict. The listener believes it when he sings, “This ain’t no party / This ain’t no disco.”

And on “Swamp,” the experimental musician Jean Dawson delivers alt-country backwater terror that would have been at home on the soundtrack of the first season of “True Detective.”

The sum of it all is a varied but remarkably coherent album from a broad array of artists that’s a testament to the enduring excellence of “Stop Making Sense.”

By JIM POLLOCK
Associated Press

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