|1. Planet Claire|
|2. 52 Girls|
|3. Dance This Mess Around|
|4. Rock Lobster|
|6. There's A Moon In The Sky (Called The Moon)|
|7. Hero Worship|
Opening with the memorable "Planet Claire," with its retro-rhythms, electronic pings, and truly off the wall lyrics, the band puts you on notice: it will be quite unlike anything you've heard before. And that holds true through virtually every cut. Of course, whether you like it or not is an entirely different matter: it can be difficult to relate to music made with such instruments as smoke-detectors, toy pianos, and a stripped down guitar-bass-drums combo, not to mention lyrics that often seem to be thrown together from the first rhyming words the band could think of. Quite a few people will find that a little of it goes a long way.
But it grows on you. It really does. "52 Girls," with Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson spewing out female names very much like you'd recite state capitols in high school, is wickedly funny once you manage to tune into it--and when you move on to "Dance this Mess Around" you're hooked, plugged into Cindy and Kate's alternately strident, alternately harmonic vocals and Fred Schneider's unexpected rap-like interjections.
For all its weirdness, this is music designed to get you on your feet, and on draggy days when I don't quite feel up to the task I can drop this particular CD on the stereo and "dance this mess around" all the way to a spotless kitchen.Read more ›
There are a handful of B-52's anthologies on the market, but their late-blooming commercial success detracts from the brilliance of their debut. There isn't a weak track among the bunch. Beginning with the bizarre "Planet Claire," the listener goes on a wild journey that is steeped in the culture of 1950s science fiction movies, beehive hairdos, dance crazes, and joyful irreverence.
Musically, the band adopts much of the punk "do it yourself" attitude that prevailed during the time of the album's release. Bass guitars seem to fixate on one chord, rhythm guitars run up and down scales, and basic drum beats push the songs forward. Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson's voices, which at first blush seem so wildly out of tune, blend in a manner that is sublimely beautiful. Fred Schneider's vocals, which recall Rex Harrison's talk/singing in the film version of "My Fair Lady," seem so natural in this setting that it's easy to find yourself singing along with him at any point.
Lyrically, the band explores territory that few have ever chanced. Name-checking Tina Louise and Jackie Onassis in "52 Girls" is unique to say the least, and including a reference to limburger cheese in a list of dances ("Dance This Mess Around") is a route that was never evident to Burt Bacharach.Read more ›
It's still hard to define the music which is a fun blend of pop, quirky funk and experimental rock. In addition to the jerky arrangements, the innovative vocals are what made the mix so successful and distinctive. The male voice hovers between a singing and speaking style while the female vocals frame it with tight, urgent harmonies and shrieks. The closest comparison I can find of a similar band from the same era is The Flying Lizards, but they were much more obscure.
My favourite songs include the jerky Rock Lobster with its great hooks, the tuneful Planet Claire and the infectious Dance This Mess Around. Many of the tracks are good for the dancefloor too. Although not all the songs are up to the quality of the aforementioned hits, they're all innovative, funny and listenable. After all these years, this album still sounds unique.