Athens, Georgia must be some musical place as both REM and the B-52’s emerged from there.
B-52’s is a three-way lead with the vocals shared between Fred Schneider who has a sprechgesang style which is spoken singing and yes, I did look up sprechgesang and the wonderful Katie Pierson and Cindy Wilson whose soaring vocals enhance the band to another level. Cindy’s brother Ricky was on guitar and Keith Stickland completed the band on drums.
This debut appeared in 1979, I am surprisingly too young to remember but what a shot in the arm it must have been with the way they looked on the sleeve and not may album covers are bright yellow.
However, they also had substance as well as style delivering a debut that is creative, original, and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
Planet Claire is a magical two and half minutes of the riff from Peter Gunn and synths and morse code that build and build before Fred comes in, its bizarre and brilliant all at once.
52 Girls is a riff as we are introduced to Cindy and Katie who basically sing a list of girl’s names and there is a wonderful wee organ sound at the end of the song.
Dance This Mess Around takes us down a peg as Cindy delivers a lovely lead vocal (her hippy hippy shake must be heard) with occasional backing from Fred and Katie.
Everyone knows Rock Lobster and if they don’t, they should. Until Love Shack came along many years later it was probably their best-known song. It’s utter nonsense of course but the three vocalists blend perfectly, the surf like organ, the nagging beat and the twanging guitar give us, and the B-52’s a classic song.
Lava could be about volcanos, but I think the band were hinting at something much more sexual and There’s a Moon in the Sky starts with a wonderful organ that is exquisite throughout.
Hero Worship Is Cindy again raw and carrying the song, I do not think I realised what an exciting vocalist she is until I listened to this record.
6060-842 is a great story about a girl called Tina constantly phoning a number for a fun time and never getting an answer and the album finishes with Petula Clark’s Downtown that sounds as if recorded at a party, it’s a quiet end to a wonderful debut album.
GIVE IT A STREAM: Rock Lobster