David Byrne – The Knee Plays

David Byrne – The Knee Plays / 2007 Nonesuch / 20 Tracks / http://www.davidbyrne.com / http://www.nonesuch.net /

Individuals that are big fans of David Byrne will know that “The Knee Plays” is not a new album, but its release by Nonesuch is the first time it has made it onto CD. This package contains the music from the CD, along with a DVD that has over 400 different photographs taken during the original stages of The Knee Plays. Why exactly this CD was not released in 1985 is beyond me; the format was already in common use by this period, but individuals that are fans of Byrne or the Talking Heads can feel vindicated in the fact that there is a legit CD version of this release finally. “Tree (Today is an Important Occasion)” is the first track on the score, and it provides an interesting approach to musical arrangements that is simultaneously catchy and yet is something that pulls at the fabric of what is proper in music.

The more mournful sound of “In The Upper Room” brings the soundtrack to a different space, but the brass-heavy arrangement of the orchestra acts as a common thread. This common thread allows listeners to stick with the recording, despite the tracks instrumental leanings. A middle ground appears when Byrne’s vocals start out “The Sound of Business”. This track has a lot in common with the soundtracks for late sixties and early seventies television shows; the inclusion of vocals does not make this a full comparison, but individuals will feel this similarity. Individuals will be focused in on the instrumentation on the tracks during “The Knee Plays”, but one should really focus on what Byrne is saying, especially during tracks like “Social Studies”. A discussion of different cultures is present during this track, with Byrne confidently explaining that it would make sense to eat a different locale’s food in order to understand their culture.

The arrangements on “The Knee Plays” do have an eighties tint to them, but there is a sort of timelessness to the tracks that will ensure that listeners in the current period can appreciate what is being done during “The Knee Plays”. Regardless of whether individuals know what is happening in the play during the specific tracks of “The Knee Plays”, what results on this audio CD is something that is truly special. Give “The Knee Plays” a listen and be transported back to the middle 1980s. Hopefully one can find a videotaped recording of this performance soon.

Top Tracks: Jungle Book, Social Studies

Rating: 7.4/10

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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