Warner Brothers (1979)
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
As someone who graduated from high school relatively recently, I can attest to the current generation’s take on the B-52’s: they’re a band that is only in existence because of its prom staple: “Love Shack.”
The truth that many young people don’t realize is that the B-52’s are actually a two hit wonder. The second hit is the pop-culture classic, and centerpiece of the band’s self-titled debut album: “Rock Lobster.” The band is primarily considered to be a kitsch classic. This isn’t an insult to the group, because it wasn’t aiming for anything else. The rest of the band’s songs are equally as humorous in nature.
Unfortunately for the group, its later tracks were nowhere as fun as those presented in its first album. The classic is of course, “Rock Lobster,” by far the best track. Fred Schneider is the primary vocalist, but the joy is truly in the wordless harmonies of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson, providing humorous (yet talented) accompaniment to the nautical creature-themed tale.
The pronounced bass lines make the rest of the songs almost as fun. The tabs of “Planet Claire” and “52 Girls” aren’t complex, but they add an enjoyable spy-flick feel to the already pop-spoof songs.
The lyrics are also a treat. I’ve already tooted the “Rock Lobster” horn enough, but I especially enjoy the ironic space science spoof “There’s a Moon in The Sky (Called The Moon).” If you weren’t aware that there is more than one moon in the galaxy, you can learn about that in a different blog I’m sure.
Speaking of spoofs, this album made me consider the supposed differences between the new wave and post-punk genres. We tend to lump the 52’s in with new wave, but both are genres that began in the ‘70s “out of the punk scene” and incorporated some degree of electronic instrumentation. The only real difference is that new wave makes a move at ‘60s pop (which the B-52’s certainly do). The point is, Devo might be more technically proficient than the B-52’s, but a genre away? Probably not.
INTERESTING FACT: The rock lobster is a subspecies of the spiny lobster family that lives primarily in Australia and New Zealand.