Last week The B-52’s released Funplex, their first album in sixteen years. After three decades together, they haven’t lost it. We’ll discuss Funplex further at a later date, but right now we’re gonna go back a couple of records (and nearly 20 years).

It’s springtime, which means as the weather gets warmer the more often I reach for the B-52s 1989 comeback/crossover album Cosmic Thing. At some point or another, I’ve written about most everything in the B’s late ’70s / early ’80s catalog; collections from a band that defy genre, albums that seem as fresh, and fish-out-of-water, as they did upon their initial release. While The B-52’s have always done things their own way, Cosmic Thing is its own animal, and for a multitude of reasons.

The B-52’s most “commercial” album to date, Cosmic Thing employed not one, but two producers: Don Was and Nile Rodgers. While both men have their own distinctive style, the tracks seemingly solidified into a cohesive whole (see both production examples in the MP3s below). After the death of founding member, and guitarist, Ricky Wilson, in 1985, the future of the band was unknown. Cosmic Thing is the sound of a band shedding its former skin – re-born. The was the album that would finally break through to the masses.

A mainstream hit with three singles, the album proved, if only for little awhile, that a flamboyantly gay lead singer, flanked by two women in beehive hairdos, could be both kitsch and commercially viable (as an aside, RuPaul’s first national exposure was in the video for “Love Shack”). Looking back two decades later, it’s odd no one in mainstream music is presently doing anything even remotely as interesting as this — an album forged at the end of the conservative, post-Reagan, ’80s. Wha’ happened?

Below: If you havent seen it in a while, watch the video for the B-52’s “Deabeat Club,” appropriately filmed in various locations in their old stomping ground of Athens, GA. Oh, and don’t forget to play “can you spot Michael Stipe.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


MP3: The B-52s :: Deadbeat Club
MP3: The B-52s :: Bushfire
Amazon: The B-52s – Cosmic Thing

+ Download DRM free music via eMusic’s 25 free MP3 no risk trial offer

3 Responses to “Heading Down The Atlanta Highway”

  1. you’re totally right about no one doing anything close to as interesting as this in mainstream music these days. everything is so contrived. the only recent band i can of to gain some mainstream success, regardless of outsider status, is the scissor sisters, and surely they owe alot to the B-52’s (and a host of others).

  2. One current artist (whether you like him or not) who is aiming for the mainstream and is coming from a very different point is Mickey Avalon. Not a lot of bisexual former junkies in hip hop who have gotten play on commercial radio. Not comparing him to the greatness of B-52s but drawing an analogy to someone who’s point of view and sound is different than the status quo.

  3. This makes my heart yearn for younger days, hotter days, southern days.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>