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Former members of the Talking Heads have dusted off their side project and taken it back on the road. 

Bouncing Back

It's been nine years since the husband-wife duo of bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz last surfaced with their fun and funky dance-oriented group, the Tom Tom Club.

For Weymouth and Frantz — well known for their role as the rhythm section of the Talking Heads — the decision to put the Tom Tom Club into dry-dock was largely due to circumstances beyond their control.

"It just seemed the timing wasn't right for what we were doing," Weymouth said. "When we knocked off with [the 1992 CD] 'Dark Sneak Love Action,' that was in the midst of grunge and a lot of big label takeovers and mergers that haven't stopped. Everybody was just trying to get a piece of the business. People were taking a huge piece, which didn't make it very viable for people like us who are on the lower end of the [major-label sales] spectrum."

Now a revamped version of the Tom Tom Club is back with a new CD, "The Good, The Bad And The Funky." Weymouth, though, said she and Frantz had actually intended to return behind a different type of Tom Tom Club CD. "We set up a Web site a couple of years ago, and in talking to people, we began to realize that maybe we should be making a retrospective because a lot of stuff was out of print; people weren't able to find it," she said.

But after compiling many of the tracks for that CD, the retrospective project got shelved by Reprise Records. To this day, Weymouth isn't sure exactly what prompted the label's decision. So she and Frantz chose a different path.

They formed their own label, Tip Top Records, arranged a distribution and promotion deal with Rykodisc, a label owned by music business veteran Chris Blackwell, who had given Frantz and Weymouth their first record deal, and they began work on "The Good, The Bad And The Funky."

"So we just never stopped entirely recording and playing and making music," Weymouth said. "It just seemed like the time was right to try it again and see what the response was. It was just really, really positive. We did some shows in '98 and again in '99 [that were well received]. It started because our alma mater, the Rhode Island School Of Design, asked us to do a benefit for the scholarship and alumni fund. ...We said yes and then we realized, 'Oh my gosh, we've got to put this together, and it's just as much work to put [a band] together for one show as for 33, and just as expensive. So we decided this was the perfect opportunity."

"The Good, The Bad And The Funky" fits firmly in the tradition of the previous four Tom Tom Club CDs — "Tom Tom Club" (1981), "Close To The Bone" (1983), "Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom" (1989) and "Dark Sneak Love Action" (1992). The dance-happy grooves that have always been at the center of the group's songs continue to take center stage as the Tom Tom Club freely mix funk, reggae, hip hop and other beats into songs. But if anything, "The Good, The Bad And The Funky" is the catchiest Tom Tom Club effort yet, as original songs like "Happiness Can't Buy Money," "Holy Water" and "She's A Freak" boast hooks that are as strong as their rhythms.

While "The Good, The Bad And The Funky" has put the Tom Tom Club back on the front burner for Weymouth and Frantz, another project that could get a new life is the Heads, a group which reunites Weymouth and Frantz with Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison. The three first collaborated on the 1996 CD, "No Talking Just Head," which featured a dozen songs the trio wrote and recorded with different singers, including Debbie Harry of Blondie, the late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, Ed Kowalczyk of Live and former Concrete Blonde leader Johnette Napolitano.

Weymouth said she had originally hoped Talking Heads singer and chief songwriter David Byrne would participate in the project, resulting in a full-fledged reunion of the influential band. That never happened. "We were giving him a face-saving way out," she said, "leaving the door open, inviting him to be part of it and leaving him a face-saving way to re-enter."

Weymouth said she, Frantz and Harrison also hoped that the Heads CD might lead to an ongoing relationship with one of the guest singers on the "No Talking Just Head" CD. This also didn't happen, although Weymouth stands by the record.

"What we were trying to do was a continuity thing, something of moving forward, and we were hoping that out of the 12 different singers that we would find a permanent chemistry and relationship or a working combination that we could continue to write and record with," Weymouth said. "And I love that album. I'm very proud of it. I think it stands
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