23819-1 Whammy!
Produced by Steven Stanley
Released on April 1983
US CHART POSITION #29 . . . UK CHART POSITION #33 . . . GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
23819-1 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

S teven Stanley (Tom Tom Club) replaces David Byrne behind the boards, and The B-52s replace their strangeness with sweetness. Of course, they’re still plenty strange (“Don’t Worry,” “Trism”), but the atonal and grating guitars are mostly gone, the whammy bar has parked in their space and isn’t moving. Whammy! signals the beginning of the cuddly B-52s, the harmless space cadets whose songs about vegetables and teleportation wouldn’t scare anyone. The first two Tom Tom Club albums were more musical, but Stanley does a good job of filling in the spaces with the economy of music at his disposal: synthesizers and rudimentary (sometimes deliciously so) guitar lines. To my ears, this album has always sounded like Devo (Diva-o?), nowhere more than “Whammy Kiss.” While critics have been cool on Whammy!, I’ve got a soft spot for it. “Legal Tender” and “Trism” would make my best of the B-52’s, and nothing on here is an actual bomb. However, co-crediting “Don’t Worry” to Yoko Ono (without her permission) did backfire on the band, and the enigmatic Mrs. L (or her legal agents) blocked the band from using the song when Whammy! was reissued on compact disc. (It was replaced by “Moon 83,” which had earlier been the B side for “Legal Tender.”) With or without “Don’t Worry,” Whammy! isn’t an essential purchase. Whammy’s whimsy is its charm, not any particular song, so don’t expect a “Private Idaho” or “Dance This Mess Around.” Expect light, sweet, salty, silly fare, close to Tom Tom Club’s second album but without the bones.

23819-1 back cover
23819-1 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. LEGAL TENDER    (music by The B-52's/lyrics by Robert Waldrop)    3:40
  2. WHAMMY KISS    5:20
  3. SONG FOR A FUTURE GENERATION    4:00
  4. BUTTERBEAN    4:14
  5. TRISM    3:23
  6. QUEEN OF LAS VEGAS    4:40
  7. DON'T WORRY    (music by The B-52's/lyrics by Yoko Ono)    3:50
  8. (cd repl. above track with) MOON 83
  9. BIG BIRD    4:14
  10. WORK THAT SKIRT    3:48

    All music and lyrics by The B-52's unless noted

CREDITS

KATE PIERSON --
FRED SCHNEIDER --
KEITH STRICKLAND --
CINDY WILSON --
RICKY WILSON --
Steven Stanley -- engineer

return to THE B-52's discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US April 1983 Warner Bros. LP/CS 23819 inner sleeve
UK 1983 Island LP/CS ILPS/ICT 9759 inner sleeve
ARG 1983 Warner Bros. LP 83509 lyric sleeve
CAN 1983 Warner Bros. LP 92 38191  
FRA 1983 Island LP/CS 812 554 inner sleeve
GER 1983 Island LP/CD 205.649.320  
YUG   Jugoton LP LSI 11044 inner sleeve
GER   Island LP 205.843.320 lyric sleeve
US 1989 Warner Bros. CD 23819 repl. track #7
UK   Island CD 842 445 repl. track #7


The Last Word

“I enjoy the B-52s, because I heard them doing Yoko. It's great. If Yoko ever goes back to her old sound, they'll be saying, ‘Yeah, she's copying the B-52s.’” – John Lennon, Sept. 1980 interview with David Sheff.

 

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