Album Of The Day: The B-52's (1979)


The first time I saw the B-52's staring back at me from the record bins on the cover of their self-titled 1979, I thought it was something to do with Saturday Night Live.  Oh, that's not Gilda Radner?  Still, there was something intriguing about this bunch that made me wanna take them home with me.

"Planet Claire" immediately annoyed me, as I'm not much a fan of instrumentals, but opened up into this glorious What ultimately pulled me in wasn't the magnificent twin-lead vocals of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson or the surf-punk guitar wizardry of Ricky Wilson, but the manically propulsive drumming of Keith Strickland, who swings like a Motown god throughout the whole album.


Listening to his performance on "52 Girls", there's an effortlessness to his swing, and a riveting simplicity, but the main focus is always on creating something you can't not dance to, which is why it may not be the best thing to be driving while listening to The B-52's.  If you do find yourself behind the wheel, though, try to time Kate screaming "Why don't you dance with me?!" with your arrival at a stop light.

It really isn't until "Lava" that I hear the band even sound human.  They almost seem to be catching their breaths after the sweaty romp of "Rock Lobster", which most folks don't realize is almost seven minutes long.  Most don't realize it until they find themselves half-drunk and dancing to the song at some wedding reception.  It's all fun and games until the song's fourth minute, at which point even you're sick of your moves and your dead arms swing like sacks of potatoes at your sides, but the song ain't even close to being done with you.  You somehow find a second wind and finish the song as if completing your first marathon.

The refrain of "Don't worry, this is the space age" from "There's A Moon In The Sky (Called The Moon)" sounds so fucking hopeful back then.  Turns out we passed the future back in 1979 and have spun into some sort of alternate futuristic hell.

The B-52's is the creation of a musical universe where there's nothing wrong with just stopping the rat race and partying your ass off on a Tuesday night in the backyard, music absolutely bangin', and having none of the neighbors complain because they're all at the party...that life exists on The B-52's and it's there anytime you want it.

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