15 August 2006

The B-52’s: The B-52’s/Wild Planet

I had planned to feature an album by the beloved Warren Zevon this week … but there’s too much sadness in my life right now. What we need is to kick our shoes off and throw our arms out and dance and sing and celebrate the joy in this world. And who better to dance and sing and feel joy with than The B-52’s? (You with me, Dale?)

But I can’t feature just one album. The B-52’s and Wild Planet, the band’s first two albums, are a set and must be listened to as one. Nine months separate the release date — The B-52’s in July 1979 and Wild Planet in April 1980. They work together, and I can never remember which songs are on which album.

The B-52’s and Wild Planet have eighteen of the catchiest tracks in my CD closet. Who hasn’t worn the body out dancing to “52 Girls” and “Lava,” “Private Idaho” and “Quiche Lorraine,” “Give Me Back My Man” and “Dirty Back Road,” “Party out of Bounds” and “Strobe Light”? Or I hope you have. Brilliant songs all, but I must single out three from their debut album.

“Rock Lobster”: No telling how many times I’ve danced my heart out during these seven glorious minutes, nearly embarrassing myself by my body’s wild abandonment of any insecurity or decorum. It’s fun with a furious beat and, according to the laws of nature, you must dance when it plays. Or sing. I scared the hell out of Otto, my cat, the other day while singing Cindy Wilson’s part at the end. Because I must. Sing along. Loudly.

“Planet Claire”: The most fun two-and-a-half minute intro from the post-punk/new wave era, and the coolest 1950s sci-fi movie theme recorded in the late 1970s. Simeon once wanted to film the opening to the song and would often storyboard it for me (I can still visualize his vision); too bad we weren’t digital back then.

“Dance This Mess Around”: Includes the best lyrics ever written for a heartache song, as belted by Kate: Why don’t you dance with me? I’m not no limburger. We’ve all had someone who left us feeling like a limburger, just a limburger. And that toy piano in the background is, to quote Lauren, the sh*t.

It’s hard to believe these two albums are more than 25 years old. They don’t sound dated … or maybe they don’t sound dated to me because I was of that moment, and I can’t bear to think of myself as dated.

Hey! So, Fred, don't that make you feel a whole lot better? Huh?
I say, dunn’it that make you feel a lot better?
What you say? I'm just askin'!

Just writing about The B-52's made me feel a lot better. Of course, I'm listening to the albums while I write this, so I've had to take several must-dance breaks.

I’ve seen The B-52’s perform at least five times — at a large outdoor party in Normaltown (outside Athens) in 1978, at Atlanta's Fox Theater and Chastain Park, and on UGA’s Legion Field for the Cosmic Thing tour (several entertaining stories there, worthy of a future post). My favorite time seeing them was at the Agora Ballroom during 1980’s Wild Planet tour. It was during my WRAS* days, and Ricky and Cindy Wilson came by the studio for a fun on-air interview that afternoon. I went to the show with my station boys — Mike and David and Dane and Sandy (and I met Stephen during that show, but he’s a story we’ll save for an omigod post). We frugged and sang all night long. The B-52's had as good a time as we did. It was one of the best shows I saw that year — and, as the WRAS giveaway girl, I saw a lot of shows that year. Mike borrowed — and lost — my Devo flowerpot hat at the show, and I haven’t fully forgiven him for it. Although that plastic hat did stink.

*WRAS, the radio station of Georgia State University since 1971, has long been considered one of the best college stations in the nation. I was a part of that great staff in 1980-81. It's where my music-obsessed self fully came into being. The best part of my college years.

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13 Comments:

At 8/15/2006 05:40:00 AM, Blogger Ben said...

What a great post Beth !
I love their first album. It was so original and fresh.
The second was almost as good IMO.

Tell me Beth,
There's some argument over here between me and my best buddy Don.

I have all of their stuff including a vinyl copy of Mesopatamia (with the fantastic "Loveland"). Now he says it's an extended EP, and I keep telling him it's an actual album.

We've messed each others beehives up arguing about this.

 
At 8/15/2006 06:19:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Ben: I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I write a column every Tuesday about a different album from my life's soundtrack. There are links to each one covered so far on my right navigation bar.

I tried every possible way to side with you ... but Mesopotamia is considered an EP. I think the CD version is combined with Party Mix (which includes great remixes). Fix that 'hive ... and avoid that conversation with Don for as long as you can.

6:15 AM

 
At 8/15/2006 06:49:00 AM, Blogger ziggystardust73 said...

I *heart* the B52s.

ps. Hi Beth. :-)

 
At 8/15/2006 06:54:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

How can you *not* love The B-52's? You're in a bad mood ... "Private Idaho" starts up ... and you're suddenly happy and dancing around the room. Great fun, The B-52's.

p.s. Hi back, Ziggy. Love your blog.

 
At 8/15/2006 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Marni said...

I remember dancing to Rock Lobster and Love Shack during my sorority mixers. Alcohol and the B52s go hand-in-hand!

Have to say, however, I do not own a single album of theirs. Sorry to let you down my dear cousin!

 
At 8/15/2006 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Corinthian said...

I got to see the B-52s a few years back. It is always really cool to see a band actually having fun onstage.

 
At 8/15/2006 09:07:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Beth, you know I lurve the B-52's 2. You were one of them thar giveaway girls? Excellent. Loved the post and wish I'd seen them perform. You've got some of the best stories and a great flair for telling them.

 
At 8/15/2006 11:03:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

MARNI: I need to take you record shopping, cousin. You need to "Dance This Mess Around" as much as you can.

CORINTHIAN: Welcome to the Cup! Don't The B-52's alway seem to be having more fun than the rest of us?

DALE: I wasn't one of the giveaway girls. I was the giveaway queen; specifically, the PR/PA director. I coordinated all the ticket giveaways for all the shows in town. Fun job, even though it paid just $250/month. And I'm glad you enjoy my stories; you know how much I enjoy yours.

 
At 8/15/2006 11:58:00 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

Beth...first, have you ever drove a Plymouth Satellite as fast as the the speed of light? Second, there goes a narwhal...

Third, Ricky jammed. Nobody this side of Angus Young or Dick Dale could play with so much passion and get so much out of a few notes.

Fourth, you've been tagged by me. Fifth, I hope all is better. I haven't had time to hope and chime in for you to cheer up...so here it kinda is.

 
At 8/16/2006 12:26:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

My first tag!!! How exciting. I'll check it later tonight. I'm flying to your town in the a.m., so it may be a day or two before I can post it.

I'm so excited ... I've finally been tagged ...

 
At 8/18/2006 03:12:00 AM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

I'll give you fish.

 
At 8/18/2006 05:17:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I picked those up in January. Great fucking tunes.

 
At 10/30/2006 08:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey just to let you know look up planet clique for remixes of the B's they have the Mesopotamia remixes that are not to be missed and they are finally on sale. Cant wait for the new B-52's cd

 

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