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With each successive song, Byrne is joined by more members of the band: first by Tina Weymouth for "Heaven" (with Lynn Mabry providing harmony vocals from backstage), second by Chris Frantz for "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel", and third by Jerry Harrison for "Found a Job". Performance equipment is wheeled out and added to the set to accommodate the additional musicians: back-up singers Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, percussionist Steve Scales, and guitarist Alex Weir. The first song to feature the entire lineup is "Burning Down the House", although the original 1985 RCA/Columbia Home Video release (which featured three additional songs in two performances edited into the film) has the entire band (minus Worrell) performing "Cities" before this song. Byrne leaves the stage at one point to allow the Weymouth–Frantz-led side-band Tom Tom Club to perform their song "Genius of Love". The band also performs two songs from Byrne's soundtrack album The Catherine Wheel, "What a Day That Was" and (as a bonus song on the home video release) "Big Business".
When the film was first released on home video, the songs "Cities" and "Big Business"/"I Zimbra" were restored to the performance, thus forming what was dubbed the "special edition" of the film. For the 1999 re-release, these songs were no longer included in sequence with the rest of the footage. It and subsequent video and DVD releases have placed these songs after the film in an unrestored full-frame version.
as the group was touring to promote their new album Speaking in Tongues. The concert serves as a comprehensive retrospective of the band's history to that time, featuring many of their popular songs from their first hit single "Psycho Killer", through to their most recent album. In addition, the group performs one song, "Genius of Love", by the Tom Tom Club, a side project for two members of the band. The film is the first made entirely using digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves.
Stop Making Sense is considered by many critics to be one of the greatest concert films of all time. Leonard Maltin called it "one of the greatest rock movies ever made", Robert Christgau "the finest concert film", and Pauline Kael "close to perfection". In 2021, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Locker, Melissa (July 15, 2014). "David Byrne and Jonathan Demme on The Making of Stop Making Sense". Time. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
Maslin, Janet (October 19, 1984). "Movies: Talking Heads in 'Stop Making Sense'". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000)