They're connoisseurs of trash in a world full of it.
-Rolling Stone magazine review of 1980's Wild Planet
An excellent greatest hits compilation. This group were always a singles band rather than an albums band (some of their albums/EPs were downright nasty), so a greatest hits package is probably the best bet for most people. The B-52's are one of those groups that few people actually listened to during the early '80s, but thanks to the constant playing of Rock Lobster during retro or flashback weekends on radio, middle-agers everywhere think they personally are responsible for the discovery of the band's brand of party rock. Admittedly, I probably fit in that group since the first album by this group that I purchased was 1983's Whammy!. The group is a campy combination of kitsch and trash with bizarre lyrical puns delivered in speech-song. Bizarre enough not to have a Top 40 hit until 1989, a full 12 years into the band's existence.
There's more than a little irony in the fact that The B-52's are now considered a retro group since they've always been a retro group. From the initial sounds of the group in the opening strains of Planet Claire (which is shameless lifted from Henry Mancini's theme to Peter Gunn), the band is a hodge-podge of yesterday's tomorrows and cultural references from the '50s and '60s: beach party movies, space age sci-fi, miniskirts & go-go boots, Farfisa organs, film noir, surf rock, etc, but no matter - this music is fun.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #93
Tracks: The early music is fun dance stuff, most notably Strobelight. My favorite tracks are the later songs from their collaboration with Nile Rodgers and Don Was (tracks 11-16 here): Good Stuff, Is That You Mo-Dean?, Channel Z, Deadbeat Club, Roam, and, of course, Love Shack, which I like so much it's been my phone ringtone on more than one occasion. I could do without Quiche Lorraine, the mix of Summer Of Love, and the two new songs, Debbie and Hallucinating Pluto, which, as legendary critic Robert Christgau writes, aren't "fit to shine the spaceship of 1992's visionary Is That You Mo-Dean?"
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This disc was a gift from my wife during a summer when we went and saw the group.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Love Shack (1989)
Bouncing Off the Satellites (1986)
Party Mix/Mesopotamia (1981/1982)