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Mesopotamia (Audio Cassette)

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette (Oct. 17 1990)
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B000002KN7
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record  |  Misc.
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1. Love Land
2. Deep Sleep
3. Mesopotamia
4. Cake
5. Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can
6. Nip It in the Bud

Product Description

1982 album produced by David Byrne, 7 tracks including 'Loveland', 'Deep Sleep', 'Cake' & 'Nip It In The Bud'.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Byrne & B-52's, a combination that oddly works! June 17 2012
By Todd Bartholomew - Published on
Format: Audio CD
After the solid one-two punch of B-52's and Wild Planet the B-52's found themselves needing to write new material and pondering which musical direction to go. The Party Mix / Mesopotamia EP bought the band time to write and record new material for what would become "Mesopotamia". At the urging of their manager, Gary Kurfirst, the band opted to try a new musical direction with longtime friend and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne producing. The band could just have easily have kept churning out new iterations of the first two albums but eventually that would get stale and pigeonhole them. Work began in earnest in Fall of 1981 but it quickly became apparent that the pressures of creating new material, conflicts with Byrne, and pressure from their label ground the recording to a halt. Rather than completing a full length album what resulted from the sessions was a six-song EP, "Mesopotamia". Confusing things further were two different releases of the EP, the Warner Brothers version, which is showcased here and which is the most commonly heard version, and the Island Records version released in the U.K. which features some entirely different longer versions of the songs. These two different versions confused and confounded critics and fans alike, fueling rampant speculation about what had gone wrong between the band and Byrne and why an EP was the result and not a full third studio album.

All of that controversy aside, "Mesopotamia" certainly was a departure for the B-52's. Rather than the guys vs. girls vocals on their first two albums "Mesopotamia" turned into gender separation of vocals, aside from "Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can". Fred Schneider certainly does get short shrift here as that's one of only two tracks with his vocals, the other being the title track. Cindy Wilson gets two solo tracks ("Loveland" and "Nip it in the Bud") with Kate Pierson getting one solo ("Deep Sleep") and the two harmonize together on the delightful "Cake". Overall "Mesopotamia" is swathed in a moody, dreamy, dark, atmospheric, multi-instrumental swirl largely of Byrne's creation, much like he would later do with Fun Boy Three's Waiting. Ricky Wilson's surf rock inspired guitar work punctuates throughout but is often mixed in with synthesizers and synth bass in a most curious fashion. Rather than the stripped down feel of the first two albums Byrne adds multiple additional musicians and instruments to augment the band and punch up the rhythm. The result is much more obviously danceable tracks that almost approach the polyrhythmic intensity of the Talking Heads Remain In Light and Speaking in Tongues. The opening track "Loveland" is a beautiful Cindy Wilson powered track that perhaps best showcases how well Byrne's influences work here. The chugging rhythm propels things along punctuated by Ricky's wonderful guitar work, building to a crescendo with Cindy's vocals going into the stratosphere. The dark brooding almost wordless cooing of "Deep Sleep" shows the almost otherworldly influence of Byrne, sounding almost like a lost Talking Heads track. The hilarious give and take between Fred and Kate on "Mesopotamia" summons up flashbacks of past B-52's classics and were it not for the Byrne influenced synths it wouldn't be out of place on the first two albums. "Cake" is hands down my favorite track with the perfect call and response vocals between Cindy and Kate with their wickedly delicious double-entendres. Again, minus the Byrne backing this could easily have been on the first two albums. "Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can" has some truly hilarious lines delivered by Fred with his usual panache. Closing things out is the raucous "Nip it in the Bud", all of which leaves the listener longing for more.

It turns out there was more, but it's only recently seen the light of day. Much like the first two albums the band wrote a large amount of material, except in this case they intended it for Mesopotamia but wound up using rejected tracks on their next album Whammy. The "Mesopotamia" version of "Queen of Las Vegas" turned up on Nude On The Moon: The B-52's Anthology pointing towards how the band truly could have come up with a full album. On their Meso-American tour in 1982 the band also played "Big Bird" which subsequently was recorded for Whammy and a version of "Butterbean" was also apparently cut but likewise has never been released. More than likely the band felt these three songs weren't quite ready or complete and perhaps that's what stalled the recording at the time. Needless to say "Mesopotamia" was something of a dividing point for B-52's fans with some hating it and some loving it. I fall firmly in the latter. Seeing them for the first time on the Meso-American tour I immediately knew I was in the presence of kindred spirits, and their versions of songs from "Mesopotamia" were quite faithful. It's a shame that in later years they've rarely played tracks from this EP as they're truly delightful and undoubtedly part of the B-52's canon. I can only hope that one day we'll hear the full length version of "Mesopotamia" in some form or fashion. For now hardcore fans have to cobble together what they can from what leaked out and create their own theories. "Mesopotamia" was the beginning of a wanderlust journey for the band as they latched onto and rejected various musical styles. The intense Byrne influenced stylings here would give way to the Spartan New Wave Steve Stanley produced Whammy, another departure in style for the band; certainly not their first and certainly not their last!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B-52's + Byrne = Brilliant Jan. 8 2013
By dustincjames - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is my understanding that Mesopotamia by The B-52′s is one of their lesser albums in the eyes of many fans. I say "my understanding" because I know very little people personally who like and/or listen to The B-52′s and the select few that I do know haven't heard this EP to judge. After giving this a spin for myself I have concluded that I personally love it. I do prefer the 1990 remix* of the title track which adds more vocals over the 1982 album version, but the original mix is great too.

*[The remix mentioned can be found on the Party Mix / Mesopotamia as well as Time Capsule.]

Even though I love this EP, I can see how a lot of fans aren't crazy about it. The tone is very different from The B-52′s first two albums and also different from their commercial breakout Cosmic Thing as well. David Byrne`s presence [of Talking Heads, for those who don't know who I'm talking about] is very noticeable on a lot of the songs. If one is not a fan of Talking Heads then perhaps they might be turned off by the sound of Mesopotamia. While I previously stated that I love this album, if I were trying to get a person into The B-52′s for the first time, this would be one of their last albums I would recommend due to it sounding very different to the majority of the band's discography.

This album is not perfection and certainly not The B-52′s at their best, but it's definitely a great and fun listen. If you're a casual fan of the band then perhaps this isn't the album for you. However, if you have a diverse taste in music like myself then I say give this a chance because I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good...but... July 30 2009
By NateMonroe - Published on
This is a good cd, but not as fun or as good as the B's can be. Influenced by David Byrne, some of the fun the B's is noted for seems muted.
Also, buyer beware...there are to be 7 tracks on this, but there are some misprinted copies floating about with 6 tracks just like the American EP minus the track "Lava"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sort of a 3rd album that usually works... Aug. 10 2012
By ewomack - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Something happened on the B-52s originally scheduled 3rd album. Apparently layers of people thought they needed to depart from the rougher-edged guitar rock of their previous two releases and embrace smooth synthesizer laced atmospheric sounds and mellow sparse rhythms. Splay yourself all over the floor party music no more. Though originally planned as a full 10-track album, apparently certain people fell out with certain other people and the project found itself suspended. Rumors flew that the band fell out with producer David Byrne or that Byrne fell out with the record label or that everyone fell out with everyone else. Someone or something fell out. In any case, enough work was done to warrant a mini-release of 6 songs. And the B-52s found themselves with kind of a 3rd album.

The influence of David Byrne, then front man for the heavily acclaimed Talking Heads, appears everywhere. The rhythms and guitar sometimes echo Byrne and Eno's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts," though somewhat toned down. Then horns appear (which, interestingly, Talking Heads refused to have on their first album). The vocals, in stark contrast to their previous releases, are incredibly more subdued, controlled and subtle, with the possible exception of Fred Schneider's usual half-sung, half-barked delivery. Everything feels tighter overall and some argued that "Mesopotamia" stands as a prime example of over-production gone amok. Though not everyone agreed.

This album does seem to mark a transition for the B-52s from a live wild frenetic party band to a more mainstream pop band: a transition that started somewhat on "Wild Planet." Their subsequent albums sound far closer to "Mesopotamia" than anything previous to it. The raw energy from their first album and the pop crafting of their next few releases wouldn't come to full fruition until "Cosmic Thing," which still feels like a successful melding of their early raw and later polished sounds.

Though it often dampens the true fun yell out loud sound that the B-52s often epitomized, "Mesopotamia" still has its moments. The title track probably remains the standout with its unforgettable line "I'll meet you by the third pyramid." But something seems missing or off somewhere, like a great idea not quite implemented correctly. David Byrne producing the B-52s definitely sounds like a great idea, but maybe it was just that: a great idea. Perhaps the styles clashed or Byrne tried a little too hard to make the band sound edgy or overly intellectual. So, though still a highly enjoyable album, something feels forced. This remains the one B-52s album that doesn't inspire wild body contortions resulting from the rhythm section's infectious grooves and the triple dose wall of vocals, often electric with energy. In other words, it probably makes few people dance. If anyone wants to know how the B-52s would sound as a "cerebral" band, this is probably it. But if this is as bad as the B-52s get, and "Mesopotamia" stands eons away from bad, then fans have little to complain about.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this on vinyl March 8 2013
By Darren Chase - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have this album on vinyl and missed hearing it since I no longer have a record player. It was great to find it on CD. It has an off beat quality which I like, I guess because of David Byrnes influence. Brings back memories.