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Monday, Jul 28, 2014
Nowhere else in their discography have the B-52's made such a blatant song about having sex (which is to say nothing of their use of the word "Herculaneum").

Turn on that lava lamp ... ‘cause things are gonna get a little sexy up in here.


An ongoing theme to this extensive Behind the Grooves series on one of the most perfect pop albums ever created, the B-52’s eponymous debut from 1979, is how with its raw production and performances that completely commit to the absurdism in the lyrics, there is an immediate, potent effect that is achieved with each and every one of these songs, as if the band somehow congealed out melted platform shoes and tacky lamps in order to become a perfect antithesis to disco’s self-serious sanctimony, favoring the gritty instead of the lush and wacky instead of the romantic. They were art-pop weirdos on the crest of the New Wave wave, and because they believed so wholeheartedly in their songs about rock lobsters and creatures coming from Planet Claire, they exuded a confidence that they were never able to recapture, as on this disc and this disc alone, they created a world that was inhabited only by the B-52’s and their lucky listeners. As an album, The B-52’s worked because it played its own internal logic that’s simultaneously indecipherable and also completely relatable in its own wacky way.


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Monday, Jul 21, 2014
"There goes a narwhal!" is one of the B-52's most memorable lines. It's also what got John Lennon back into songwriting.

Lots of trouble! Lots of bubble! This is the song that made John Lennon want to make music again.


No, really.


“Rock Lobster” is a landmark song on several fronts. For one, it was the B-52’s first-ever single, released in 1978, and the song that gained them a cult following prior to landing their record deal. Even more than that, “Rock Lobster” has endured the test of time better than more seriously-minded fare from the same era, getting somewhat of a revival during its use in a 2005 episode of Family Guy, and Yoko Ono has even joined the band onstage to make creature noises more than a few times. Between this and “Love Shack”, “Rock Lobster” is one of the B-52’s most iconic songs, bar none.


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Monday, Jul 14, 2014
When you think of B-52's songs, you think fun, wacky, playful, bizarre. With "Dance This Mess Around", you get raw, emotionally charged, sultry, and ... the best song they ever wrote.

When people think of the B-52’s, they often think of fun, silly, and energetic party-pop songs, and for good reason: a great majority of the hits they’re remembered for fit this bill to a T, filled with call-and-response vocals and rather buoyant melodies. Sometimes they were goofy, sometimes they were a bit more traditional with their themes, but they were always a lot of people’s one-stop-shop for good times and fun rhymes.


However, what may arguably be the single greatest song they’ve ever created retains none of these features. “Dance This Mess Around” is filled with longing, a bit of rage, and a vibe that is downright sultry, the soundtrack to a late-night slowjam in a room lit by nothing but lava lamps. There has never been a B-52’s song quite like it, but, most distressingly, they never attempted to go after this vibe ever again.


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Monday, Jul 7, 2014
Is it New Wave? Is it punk? Hard to say, but what we do know about "52 Girls" is this: it just may be the greatest song the B-52's ever created.

“52 Girls” is only the second song on the B-52’s first album, and despite never being released as a single, it has gone on to become a cult pop classic of the highest order—and all they do is just list the names of girls.


One of the most remarkable things about The B-52’s as an album—and something the group was never able to fully capture in any album since then—was creating not just a distinct sound, but getting right on down to creating a distinct guitar tone. Although there are unamplified guitar rock tunes aplenty in the great rock landscape, with everyone from Blondie to Prince able to turn those ringing strings into New Wave pop hits, there was a certain grit to Chris Blackwell’s production on this album, somewhat punk in the most arguable of ways but more than anything, it’s just a great damn melody.


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Monday, Jun 30, 2014
The B-52's' opening salvo nicks Mancini, talks about aliens, and settled a bet I had with my dad on whether it was Kate Pierson's voice or a synth on that recording.

One of the first concerts I ever went to was where the Royal Crown Revue opened for the Pretenders, who opened for the B-52’s. While I was excited for the concert itself, it also served as a way to settle a bet me and my dad had: whether or not it was a synthesizer or either Kate Pierson’s/Cindy Wilson’s voice that served as the ominous opening wail to “Planet Claire”, the first track off of the B-52’s’ very first album.


We were both right, but my dad was still stunned at just how well Pierson’s warble went with the vintage synths that they used to create the B-movie atmosphere that proved so crucial to “Planet Clarie”‘s success. In Dance This Mess Around, our ongoing Between the Grooves feature tackling great albums track-by-track, we are looking at the opening salvo of one of the greatest pop albums ever made, and here taking on Athens, GA rockers the B-52’s and their eponymous debut.


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