Review #198: The B-52s, The B-52s

#198: The B-52s, The B-52s

Talk about a wild card entry! According to the RS blurb, singer Fred Schneider (of the deep, campy voice) said, “We never thought it would get past our circle of friends.” Do you think he was just being modest and that he actually knew it would blow up?

This is the B-52s’ debut, and one of the five they released with guitarist Ricky Wilson. Wilson has writing credits on all but two of these songs, so you could say he was one of their creative forces. Unfortunately, Wilson died in 1985 of AIDS, which kicked off a hiatus for the group. The B-52s are the definition of “a blast,” so I was surprised to find that their history was marked by such a bleak event.

(Another thing that surprised me which my editor pointed out to me: The B-52s and R.E.M. were a product of the same place/time: Athens, Georgia in the 1970s. Imagine a “Love Shack”/“Everybody Hurts” mashup.)

They never replaced him, but they did start writing music again, and drummer Keith Strickland took up the mantle of guitarist. And thank God for that, because their sixth album, Cosmic Thing, has the band’s biggest hit on it: “Love Shack!”

Cosmic Thing is NOT listed on the RS 500 list, so I suggest you listen to it right now. Hurry up! And bring your jukebox money!

FAVORITE SONGS:

“Planet Claire” — Schneider is singing on this one, but he’s also on the walkie-talkie at the beginning. That should give you a sense of what they’re all about here.

“52 Girls” — Wow, 52 girl names and none of them are Karla.

“Dance This Mess Around” — I think Cindy Wilson is singing lead on this, and she is WAILING.

“Rock Lobster” — The Love Shack is here in spirit! This song was written in a funky little shack set way back in the middle of a field. I could listen to them make those weird animal noises all night.

“Lava” — This one made me turn on my lava lamp.

“There’s A Moon In The Sky (Called The Moon)” — LOL. Absolutely none of the songs on this album have coherent lyrics: If you’re lucky you get to ride in a gold meteorite/If you’re not, you get a mouth, a mouthful of red Kryptonite.

“Hero Worship” — I take that back! I just lay down beside him/And idolize.

“6060–842” — The tale of a woman who dials a number written on a bathroom wall only to find that the number has been disconnected. This one made me laugh out loud.

“Downtown” — Cover of a Tony Hatch-penned song performed by Petula Clark. Sounds like it was recorded while they were wasted in a crowded room.

LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS ALBUM:

The Absence of “Love Shack” — It’s a little old place where we can get together!

IS RS FULL OF IT?

This album is anarchical. Ooh-ahh! This album is silly. Ooh-ahh! This album is everything I’ve ever wanted. Ooh-ahh!

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Review #199: Slanted and Enchanted, Pavement

Writer, fake music fan.