BSK 3355 The B-52's
Produced by Chris Blackwell
Released on July 1979
US CHART POSITION #59 . . . UK CHART POSITION #22 . . .
GOLD RECORD (11/18/80), PLATINUM (5/13/86)
Find it at GEMM
BSK 3355 cover  

E very now and again, a song arrives that’s so fresh and different and intoxicating that it feels like a secret transmission from the not-so-distant future. Eminem’s “My Name Is.” Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime.” And, of course, The B-52’s “Rock Lobster.” (There are hundreds more, I’m sure, so add your own personal memories here.) At the time, punk was the hot new thing, and yet is was so undefined. You knew it when you heard it, went the conventional wisdom, because it reeked with the rebellion of youth. So brave radio stations and ambitious television shows (SNL in particular) hand-picked ambassadors for the movement. When The B-52’s performed “Rock Lobster” on SNL, they had arrived. The band was playful, almost harmless, while bands like Dead Kennedys and Fear just scared the hell out of folks. We’d make a wider distinction between those bands today, our tongues having become acclimated to punk’s musical hot sauce, but at the time it all tasted like fire compared to the bland fare of ‘70s pop. In fact, some have dismissed The B-52’s in deference to Gang of Four, who first introduced the spare sound that propels this first album. But the only party Gang was interested in was a political party, while The B-52’s were born to party. The call-and-response vocals of Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson are pure camp, reviving the ‘50s in cheap sci-fi imagery like “There’s A Moon In The Sky (Called The Moon)” and rattling off old dance moves like The Shy Tuna. It’s an interesting dynamic: the music says “bugger off” while the vocals say “come on over and join the fun.” It doesn’t transcend what Gang of Four was doing (the implications of their music was simply stunning), but it does take it in a whole new (and more banal) direction. Punk needed a pleasant face on it if it was ever going to succeed, so it may be that The B-52’s furthered the form’s cause better than Gang of Four. Although the album is essentially a series of variations on the same theme, minor classics exist here: “6060-842,” “Dance This Mess Around” and “Planet Claire” among them. It’s not a great record, but what would you rather be listening to when the world ends, “Stairway To Heaven” or “Rock Lobster?”

BSK 3355 back cover
BSK 3355 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. PLANET CLAIRE    (Fred Schneider/Keith Strickland)    4:35
  2. 52 GIRLS    (J. Ayers/Ricky Wlson)    3:34
  3. DANCE THIS MESS AROUND    (The B-52's)    4:36
  4. ROCK LOBSTER    (Fred Schneider/Ricky Wilson)    6:49
  5. LAVA    (The B-52's)    4:54
  6. THERE'S A MOON IN THE SKY (CALLED THE MOON)    (The B-52's)    4:54
  7. HERO WORSHIP    (R. Waldrop/Ricky Wilson)    4:07
  8. 6060-842    (Fred Schneider/Ricky Wilson/Keith Strickland/Kate Pierson)    2:48
  9. DOWNTOWN    (Tony Hatch)    2:57

CREDITS

KATE PIERSON --
FRED SCHNEIDER --
KEITH STRICKLAND --
CONDY WILSON --
RICKY WILSON --
Robert Ash -- associate producer, engineer
Sue Ab Surd -- art direction
George DuBose -- photography
La Verne -- hairdos

return to THE B-52'S discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US July 1979 Warner Bros. LP BSK 3355 lyric sleeve
UK July 1979 Island LP/CS/8T ILPS 9580/ICM 9480 lyric sleeve
CAN July 1979 Warner Bros. LP QBS 3355  
FRA 1979 Island LP 9123 048  
GER/NET/SPA 1979 Island LP 200.776  
US 1987 Warner Bros. CD/CS M5 3355  

 

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