The B-52s - The B-52’s - Review
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critics' view

Fuelled by the underground success of their “Rock Lobster” single from last year, the Athens, Georgia-based quintet were revved up and rarin’ to go on their debut full length, which was issued in July ’79. After nearly 3 years, the original five were still together and lined up: Fred Schneider (28, vocals, cowbell, toy piano, walkie-talkie, keyboard bass); Kate Pierson (31, vocals, Farfisa organ, keyboard bass, guitar); Keith Strickland (25, percussion, drums); Cindy Wilson (22, vocals, bongos, tambourine, guitar) and Ricky Wilson (26, guitars, smoke alarm). They were a breath of fresh air – one of those bands who were so full of charm and so unique that they stole their place in your affections easily. Their vision was to kind of reinvent surf-rock in the here and now, and it was fully and excellently realised, with a charm that was kooky but nonetheless cool. The boy-girl vocal interplay was unconventional, cartoon-like even, but full of post-punk dynamics where anything goes and new ideas are to be celebrated.

Side one, with only 4 tracks, is a WOW, with the classic “Planet Claire”, reinventing Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” with added morse-code electronics, the great Motown-update that is “Dance This Mess Around” and the near 7-minute epic that is “Rock Lobster”, a kind of sci-fi hava-nagila with bonkers vocalisms referencing dog-fish, cat-fish, a piranha and a narwhal. Now that’s what I call individualism; these goofballs are adorable. Side two doesn’t quite reach those heights but still boasts the fantastic “6060-842”, a toilet-scrawled number which promises a good time but only leaves disappointment for a frustrated Fred as Kate and Cindy mock in unison: “your numbers been disconnected, your numbers been disconnected”. The lame cover of Pet Clark’s “Downtown” at the very end is the only weak-point on this LP, but this cannot take away from my overall enjoyment – the album’s a blast.

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