Party Out of Bounds? B-52's To The Rescue!


I was at a party the other night and all someone did was plug their iPhone into someone's computer and put it on "shuffle".  Is this what parties have become, I wondered aloud to a few people I figured might have come from the "golden age of parties" (a.k.a. any time before now, it would seem)

Back in the day, we'd literally wrestle in front of the stereo over which song got played next because WE ALL LIKED MUSIC.  As it turned out, some of the discussions (okay, arguments) were better than the music, so there were long periods of loud and lengthy discussions where hardly any music actually got played and nobody cared.  Imagine a dank, dimly lit basement littered by furniture that time forgot and a bunch of teenage boys and girls each itchy as a circus mouse to pair up with someone find themselves taking part in a heated, but orderly argument over which Journey, REO or Styx song to play next.

At one point, we younger kids started playing our own music just to tide everybody over until the decision over what REAL MUSIC to play next continued uninterrupted.  That's how I once managed to play the B-52's first album in its entirety back before anybody else knew who they were. My friends and I got away with bloody murder, musically speaking, while the mainstream kids fought over which power ballad to play for their ladies.


Man, the stuff we laid on those kids was mind-blowing.  It got to the point where my friends and I would go record shopping the day of said party, buy the latest crazy shit we'd read about in the latest issue of Trouser Press, and listen to it for the first time AT THE PARTY.

Oddly enough, the first time we played Duran Duran, the older kids stopped arguing the musical merits of "Mr. Roboto" just long enough to question our manhood, sexuality, and fashion sense before returning to their argument.  Six months later, Duran Duran were bigger than Jesus and everybody dressed like that.  Oh, they may not have been the sharpest tools in the shed in match class, but they did recognize that my pals and I seemed to "know the future".  If this had been the 1400's, we'd have been deemed witches I'm sure, but in the 1980's, we were just kids who gave a damn about our jams.

We'd actually get invited to parties specifically to handle the music duties, initially oblivious to the fact that we were DJ'ing these parties for free.  We didn't care because we always ended up having fun and welcomed the opportunity to blow some minds.  


Every so often, though, we could feel ourselves "losing the room".  Maybe Pleasantville U.S.A., population 4,000, wasn't quite ready for Wayne County & The Electric Chairs' "Mean Motherfuckin' Man".  When such instances occurred, all we ever had to do to win them back was play some B-52's.

Mind you, it has never been cool in these parts to be different and, well, there is no band more "different" than the B-52's, yet I have never seen a room not come to life when some '2's come on the stereo.


Even now, I contend that there is no better party band on the planet than the B-52's.  They exist in their own musical universe, giving us just enough of the familiar for us to hold onto as our ears and minds adjust to the new musical language.  If there is a less conventional singer in the pop world than Fred Schneider, I have yet to hear them, yet I could not imagine the band being as good without him.  
That he and the band have been able to carve out quite the career for themselves is the sort of thing that restores your faith in mankind because, let's face it, the B-52's have never been the sort of band to chase trends or blend in.  Along the way, they've delighted audiences around the world with now-classic favorites like "Roam" and "Love Shack", all the while sticking to their inimitable look and sound.

Even now, some 37 years after its release, there is nothing that comes close to that first B-52's album for sheer unbridled out-of-the-box originality.  So, lemme ask you a question: Why ain't the B-52's in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

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