Friday, March 28, 2008

Good Stuff

I've long loved The B-52's. But something about their first new album in 16 years -- and first with all four surviving members in nearly 20 -- just wasn't all that appealing to me. Sure, I still loved listening to their old music (I'm a huge "Mesopotamia" fan!), but every time I'd see photos from their latest concert tour it just made me feel kind of sad. (It didn't help that 1998's Greatest Hits add-on "Hallucinating Pluto" pretty much convinced me they'd run out of new ideas.) So call it a cosmic thing (or was planet Claire aligned just so?), but Michael and I just happened to be walking home from dinner in the East Village on a gorgeous spring evening in Manhattan earlier in the week when we came upon the Virgin Megastore. Staring at me from the window in Union Square was a huge lighted promotional poster for the band's new album, "Funplex." Suddenly, I was 16 again. I ran in to buy it (only 10 bucks -- the price CDs should be!) then raced home to play it. I'm the only person I know who doesn't listen to the radio, so I hadn't even heard the title track -- which my brother had mentioned "picks up exactly where they left off" -- so I didn't really know what to expect.

But right from the opening song, "Pump," to Kate and Cindy's perfect retro harmonies on "Juliet of the Spirits" and the full-band experience of "Funplex" and "Eyes Wide Open," it felt like the party had never ended. (If only Blondie's "No Exit" had been half this fun.) I see I'm not alone here. "Funplex" has been Number 1 on, and the buzz all around it is great. (I hope they tour for it without the True Colors outfit. I hate festivals.) Having played the new album another dozen times now I began to wonder why I ever thought The B-52's had become sad. Sure, they're not 22 anymore (in their advanced they've even dropped the erroneous apostrophe in their name). But neither are their fans -- and there's certainly nothing wrong with having a good time at any age.

(That said, if you do wanna feel really old, check out these adorable clips from 1978 of the band performing at the Downtown Cafe in Athens. Kate was already pushing 50 even then, but the rest of 'em are babies -- and you get to see the adorable Ricky Wilson: "Downtown," "Rock Lobster," "52 Girls," "Runnin' Around," "Devil's in My Car," "Hero Worship" and
"Dance This Mess Around." (I assure you, they can no longer do all 16 dances -- and neither can I!)

(Perhaps it's fitting that all this B-52s stuff has reignited my love of fellow Athens rockers, R.E.M. I haven't been able to stop listening to "Lifes Rich Pageant" and "Dead Letter Office," two discs I haven't thought of in ages. Their new album, I believe, comes out Tuesday. Time for another stroll into Union Square?)


Michael said...

I've always loved "The Flowers of Guatemala" from LRP. I think it's a beautiful song!

Unknown said...

Great blog ya got which I subscribe to...but your not alone not listening to the radio - I don't either - its crap! I thought I was the only one! Anyway enjoy the B-52's - I have it and havent listened yet to it - but will on the way to work this morning since I read what you wrote - be well! peace

Anonymous said...

Life's Rich Pageant is one of the greatest albums of all time. And I said it before I even started reading reviews where the sentiment is widely echoed, the new album harkens back to the days of Life's Rich Pageant. "Accelerate" (the new album out April 1) is streaming online at iLike (a social media music site) if you're into free previews.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE Funplex and it's not often that I like every song on a CD but this one I did!

I danced onstage with Kate at Meadowbrook Theater (albeit uninvited) in 1992 and then got to meet them at the Fox Theater the next time they came to town.

One of my favorite memories!


nojarama said...

I adore the new album as well. The songs are fabulous, the new video is hilarious and can Keith Strickland get any more YUMMY? I will definitely be dancing in the aisles with 'em at the "True Colors" gig here in LA! Whoooooooohhhhh!!!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Funplex. I've listened to it over and over. Many of your favorite ongs are mine, too. Although I dig Fred, any song with Kate and Cindy singing harmony is going to be great. No one can sing and harmonize together like they do!

I wasn't crazy about Hallucinating Pluto, either. But you should check out Debbie, which came out at the same time on Time Capsule. It's great!

Scooter said...

Brilliant!!! But there's something deeply disturbing about watching Fred Schnieder buzzing around on a Segway. Imagine seeing him in your rearview mirror on that thang while on the freeway!