Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Juliet Of The Spirits

The B-52s are one of my favorite bands from the late '70s/early '80s. Their early records were herky jerky new wave smashes, infused with quirky song titles, themes and lyrics. They had 3 of the most unique voices in rock; Kate and Cindy, with their shimmering rock goddess vocals, and Fred shouting crazy one liners in between. They were a great rock band you could dance to. After fading a bit from popularity they made a spectacular comeback in 1989 with Love Shack. The album Cosmic Thing took elements of the old band and presented them in a more polished, produced fashion. 1992's Good Stuff seemed almost like a carbon copy of it's predecessor, and they finally lost my interest - and it seemed like that of everyone else too. It was their last album. Until Funplex hit stores last week. After 16 years they've decided to introduce The B-52s to a new generation.

Those of you expecting something new will be disappointed. Those of you looking for that classic mojo of old might be surprised to hear how good these guys sound. I don't know if this generation will be interested. My guess would be probably not - no hip hop beats or production by Timbaland. They do have a producer in Steve Osborne (New Order/Happy Mondays) who knows modern studio trickery, and he has given these songs a very 2008 sheen. The girls sound fabulous, Fred is as wacky as ever (Bootybot! Erotobot!), and Keith Strickland's angular rhythm guitar riffs are everywhere. I have to be honest here and say that I was a little nervous about this record, but have been won over by it's goofy charms. There are lots of songs about sex, some invites to party and dance, a hint of politics, and more sex. It is a lot of fun, and as someone who is middle aged it is encouraging to see my (slightly older) peers enjoying themselves so much. Juliet of The Spirits is a gorgeous girls only moment, a highlight of the album. Eyes Wide Open is their 2008 moment - very DFA, very groovy.
The B-52s - Juliet of The Spirits
The B-52s - Eyes Wide Open

Late Breaking Update
The B-52's return to The Billboard 200 with their first studio album in nearly 16 years this week, as "Funplex" (Astralwerks) bows at No. 11 with 30,000. It's also the highest debut in Astralwerks' history. The B-52's last studio effort, "Good Stuff," peaked at No. 16 in July 1992.

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