“Land of 1,000 Dances” is reduced to a more punk-rock “all 16 dances.”
October 8, 2019 6:34 AM   Subscribe

"Fred Schneider’s sing-shout poetry, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson’s alien girl-group harmonies, Ricky Wilson’s tricky guitar riffs and Keith Strickland’s art-funky drums. Even demographically they were nothing like the new world of new wave being built by Talking Heads and Devo: 40 percent female, 60 percent Southern, 80 percent queer, 100 percent fun." Before & After ‘The B-52’s’, a track by track guide.
posted by everybody had matching towels (37 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had the pleasure of seeing The B-52s a couple weeks ago in Central Park (with Berlin and OMD opening, no less!) and they still got it.
posted by SansPoint at 6:44 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Even Archie knows.
posted by Etrigan at 6:53 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


If you enjoy the B-52s, you might also enjoy The Rezillos, another seventies punk band who approached the whole thing from a camp-and-mid-century-culture angle.

Destination Venus and "I Love My Baby (Cause She Does Good Sculptures)" are my favorites.

One could do worse than a B-52s/Rezillos-inspired dance party; I might just ask a question about this on the green.
posted by Frowner at 6:55 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Eponysterical!
posted by matildaben at 7:09 AM on October 8 [10 favorites]


Athens must have been such a fucking blast to live in in this era (late 70's - early 80's). Even later in the 80's, rent was dirt cheap.
posted by thelonius at 7:21 AM on October 8


I have always wanted to start a cover band that performs only Joy Division songs as the B-52s, and B-52s songs as Joy Division.

I would call them "52 Division" or something.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:04 AM on October 8 [21 favorites]


Also, if I could go back in time, I would go to whatever sweaty warehouse party this video for Rock Lobster was filmed at.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:07 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


my favorite bit of B-52s "trivia" is Fred Schneider trying out to replace Jim Morrison in the Doors.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:13 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


This video of 'Give Me Back My Man' is literally and 100% unironically the coolest thing I've ever seen, especially Cindy Wilson's whole thing, her moves, her gaze, etc.
posted by signal at 8:34 AM on October 8 [17 favorites]


thanks to namewithoutwords, I've now got Fred talk-singing “Riders … on the STORM!” in my head and I couldn't be happier.
posted by scruss at 8:39 AM on October 8 [13 favorites]


Jello Biafra is and always has been the punk rock Fred Schneider. What I wouldn't give to hear the two bands covering each other. Female backup vocalists on DK songs would be kind of an awesome twist, as would be surf punk solos across the B52s' oeuvre.
posted by panama joe at 8:59 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


I had the pleasure of seeing The B-52s a couple weeks ago in Central Park (with Berlin and OMD opening, no less!) and they still got it.

Saw them a few years back down on Coney Island (for free, natch). I'd staked the claim on a spot closer to the front, but as the concert went on I was itching to get up and move, and everyone else just around me was all seated. However, about 15 feet back on the lawn I saw a group of about 10 college kids, easily 15 years my junior, on their feet and bopping away. So when the band started up with "Private Idaho", I grabbed my chair and my bag, ran back to them, threw it down on the ground next to their stuff, and jumped in the group next to one of the girls just in time for us to both turn and holler "You're livin' in your own private Idaho!!!!" at each other.

I mean. How can you just sit during a B-52s concert?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on October 8 [15 favorites]


Their music is just so *fun*.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:28 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Also, if I could go back in time, I would go to whatever sweaty warehouse party this video yt for Rock Lobster was filmed at.

Finally there's enough cowbell.
posted by Mogur at 9:32 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


The word "cool" was invented for the B-52s. I simply don't think there's another band out there that even comes close.
posted by Automocar at 9:32 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: I've had a similar idea: Sex Pistols songs done B-52s style.

Fred: "I! Wanna be!"
Kate & Cindy: "ANARCHY!!!!"
posted by SansPoint at 9:44 AM on October 8 [10 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: I've had a similar idea: Sex Pistols songs done B-52s style.

The Sex Pistols make (or is it imply?) the B52s-esque animal sounds on Submission. Somebody needs to hit them up on the twitter.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:07 AM on October 8


I was first hooked by Kate and Cindy's voices. Great as individuals, they do something together that's just intoxicating. Add in the rest, and it's something we should be very grateful to have in our lives.
posted by YoungStencil at 10:53 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


my favorite bit of B-52s "trivia" is Fred Schneider trying out to replace Jim Morrison in the Doors

Dana Gould has a bit where he does that (1h3m). YMMV with Gould, but at least once a week "Hey toad! Get outta that road!" pops into my brain.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:55 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Also, if I could go back in time, I would go to whatever sweaty warehouse party this video for Rock Lobster was filmed at.

I thought surely you were going to link to this.
posted by mykescipark at 11:27 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


I'm headed down the Atlanta highway, lookin' for that love getaway!

I know I was that happy at one time, at least here and there! If you can't have 💘,
you can at least have The '52's!
posted by Oyéah at 11:28 AM on October 8


I recently watched a very crappy documentary about the US Festival. The first night of the 1982 edition was The Police, Talking Heads, The Ramones, The English Beat, Gang of Four, Oingo Boingo, and The B-52s. Everyone they interviewed said The B-52 absolutely owned the night. Then they interviewed Kate Pierson who said the band thought their performance was just OK. That says to me that, in 1982 at least, The B-52s average night was better than everyone else's best night.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:10 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]


Interesting that they had the aesthetic of 1960 going on in 1980. Looked cool, kooky and outrageous. Only 20 years. Imagine a band today doing an ironic take on fashion and hair from 1999. It wouldn't work.

Music has been generally* so conservative these last 20 years. So much so-called dance or club music from today would have sounded perfectly in place back in 1995, and vice-versa. 1960-1980... huge difference. 1970-1990... huge difference. 1980-2000 big old difference.

*please note the use of the word "generally" in this sentence.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:58 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Ricky's guitar style was anything but conservative. He often played something akin to dulcimer tuning: CF__FF or DAD_BB.
posted by scruss at 1:20 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


So much so-called dance or club music from today would have sounded perfectly in place back in 1995, and vice-versa.

Rap, which commands a huge portion of the market, is quite different. Certain subgenres of popular music are stagnating because they are slowly dying off.

It's funny, I always think of the B-52s as being a little older than the Talking Heads or Devo, but really everyone was coming up at the same time. No doubt it's the styling.
posted by praemunire at 2:47 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Also, if I could go back in time, I would go to whatever sweaty warehouse party this video for Rock Lobster was filmed at.

If anybody tries to out-hipster you, you can always tell them that they will never be as cool as anybody who was at that party.
posted by jonp72 at 5:17 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


After the gigantic joybox that was the album Funplex, I've really been hoping they'd do another album which continued in the same, fun, classic-yet-updated vibe of that album. But I think Kate is over 70 now, so just even having the band out on tour is pretty special overall.

I've seen then 3 times, once WAY back when and then twice in the Funplex era. They remain wonderful and I recommend every fan see them as soon as they can.
posted by hippybear at 6:42 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


My favorite bit of actual B-52s trivia is that while writing "Mesopotamia," the band consulted an encyclopedia to make sure they didn't get any of the lyrics right by mistake.
posted by SansPoint at 7:17 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


They weren't my first concert but they were my first really amazing concert, in I think 1990. Shake your honey buns!

(Ziggy Marley opened, it was also my first contact high.)
posted by wellred at 7:25 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I got to meet Cindy Wilson a few years back and she was so cool. Her solo stuff is really really good! She even dropped in on the pressing plant and poured some of the vinyl for her debut 7" herself!
posted by Maaik at 8:09 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I've only seen 'em once, and that was during the brief time that Julee Cruise was standing in for Cindy.
posted by scruss at 8:04 PM on October 9


That is the most bizarre substitute I could possibly imagine.
posted by hippybear at 8:33 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I've only seen 'em once, and that was during the brief time that Julee Cruise was standing in for Cindy.

Did this take place inside a lost David Lynch movie?
posted by panama joe at 10:13 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Interesting that they had the aesthetic of 1960 going on in 1980. Looked cool, kooky and outrageous. Only 20 years. Imagine a band today doing an ironic take on fashion and hair from 1999. It wouldn't work.

There was some really magical curation going on there, and so much that needed to happen for the B-52s to come into being. Surf music. 50s and 60s horror movies. 60s sci-fi. Smoke detectors. It was like the whole culture was ground up and sifted through the marvellous camp musical genius of those guys... I didn't realize it at the time, but now they are my favourite 80s band. Their eponymous album, every single track is golden.

Why don't you dance with me?! I'm not no limburger!
posted by Meatbomb at 7:51 AM on October 10


OK I read TFA and yes that is the main point... but hey great minds and all that.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:28 AM on October 10


 Did this take place inside a lost David Lynch movie?

No, The Barrowlands in Glasgow. 1992 or 1993, I think. Julee was a really good fit for the band. ISTR Cindy was out for most of the Good Stuff tour, since she'd just had a kid.
posted by scruss at 12:58 PM on October 10


hippybear: "But I think Kate is over 70 now, so just even having the band out on tour is pretty special overall."

She's 71, which hardly seems possible.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:13 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


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