the hands of a government manTalking Heads -- Born Under Punches (live in Rome, 1980)
On the cusp of Remain in Light, before Speaking in Tongues, Talking Heads explored moody funk: dark, brooding, and danceable, as evidenced by this Metafilter post about a concert in Rome in 1980 with Adrian Belew (formerly of Frank Zappa and David Bowie, soon to be of King Crimson).
Belew's work here hints at an influence on Byrne's guitar work which showed up as early as Stop Making Sense but, more importantly, the songs stand on their own merits: featuring a meaty slapping bass, ethereal laments, wailing feedback.
The lyrics are elliptical, as any Talking Heads fan could tell you: perhaps they're about shallow consumption; perhaps they're about drug use; perhaps they're a paranoiac nightmare of an encroaching surveillance state. If they are, does it undercut the exuberance that the performance is at least partly planned, calculated to be worth recording? (And what does it mean that it was recorded and passed around in increasingly inferior versions--from broadcast TV to videotape to glitchy upload on Youtube to glitchy lossy mp3? Byrne could write something clever and pointed about it; for my part I'll just hope the concert gets a professional DVD release.)
Other highlights on that concert: "Drugs," "Crosseyed and Painless," "The Great Curve."