I’m not no Limburger! — the best of the B-52s

From ILM’s thread on Cosmic Thing:

This is a great and extremely underrated album, maybe the best ever in the “looking back happily on our well-spent youth from the vantage of our 30s” genre. The loss of Ricky Wilson is really felt here but it’s sort of worked through in a kind of joy for the times they would have shared with him at the” Love Shack” or dancing in the garden in torn sheets in the rain (in the RAAAAIN!). Maybe that sensibility is only explicit in a couple of places but I feel like it suffuses this record with an extra layer of warmth. — Doctor Casino


“Roam” will never, ever, ever get old. That song is timeless to me, the way Kate and Cindy absolutely DEVOUR the melody from the very first notes of their respective verses. And not even just on this song, really — the whole band and the hired hands bring their absolute A-game on every track. Nothing feels lazy or phoned in. It was like, “Yeah, yeah, we’re this idiosyncratic pop novelty, now a casualty of the end of New Wave. But check it, we can SING and we can PLAY, motherfuckers. Better than anybody.” — Pancakes Hackman

Having replaced my cassette copy after all these years, it’s difficult for me to accept Cosmic Thing as anything but a triumph. The band doesn’t reinvent itself as radically as Wire did in 1986 (conceptually they remained as obdurate as ever), but like Roxy Music in 1979 they found inspiration and commercial momentum from a subculture whose exposure was limited to can-you-imagine-this? features in Rolling Stone just a couple of years earlier. If you don’t believe me, remember that Doogie Howser, M.D. indulged a lovelorn depression by listening to “Channel Z” (on vinyl! in 1989! a doctor!). Besides the buoyancy of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson’s vocals and Fred Schneider’s Muppet effete Muppet routine,  Keith Strickland scratches serious grooves on his guitar,  an instrument he didn’t play when the late Ricky Wilson was defining the band’s sound a tuning at a time a decade earlier. No wonder Nile Rodgers produced half of it.

The rest of their career has fewer ignoble moments than a band with their longevity should. Whammy! is the only dud; while I can see the extra-diegetic shrewdness of using the tackiest synth colors on songs that know their way around a thrift store, they show up the redundancy of the material. Good Stuff has solid material on its first half; “Dreamland,” included below, even sounds like New Order if Bernard Sumner had finished The Power of Now. I remember 2008’s Funplex boasting a couple good tunes too.

1. Rock Lobster
2. Roam
3. Planet Claire
4. Private Idaho
5. 52 Girls
6. Cake
7. Ain’t It a Shame
8. Mesopotamia
9. Dance This Mess Around
10. Give Me Back My Man
11. Topaz
12. Dirty Back Road
13. Hero Worship
14. Party Out of Bounds
15. Channel Z
16. Girl From Ipanema Goes to Greenland
17. Butterbean
18. Bushfire
19. Nip It in the Bud
20. Dreamland

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s