Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mesopotamia - The B-52's

The B-52's
Warner Bros.  MINI 3641

I was at a Key Losers show in January and at the end of the set, Katy Davidson plugged her Ipod into her amplifier and started blasting "Mesopotamia" while dancing and singing along with it.  That was a lot of fun.  I hadn't heard the song in many years and had forgotten how good it was.  I don't really listen to any of my B-52's albums much any more, but there was a time when they were one of my favorite bands.  When I was at Cal, you couldn't go to a party without hearing them at some point on the stereo.  There was even an elaborately stupid dance that was created for "Rock Lobster."  They always were a great dance band, but I mostly dug them for their twangy guitar sound, vocal harmonies and sense of humor.  I don't recall anyone ever playing this album at a party though and I even remember some of my acquaintances complaining about it.  I never understood that because I thought it was wonderful, as good as anything they had ever done.  It was produced by David Byrne and reportedly the band clashed with him over the direction of the album which is why it is a mini-album rather than a full length.  Despite the friction, I think the collaboration is a big success, the surf/retro dance music of the group is augmented by an emphasis on percussion and funkiness with stunning results.  The driving beat of "Loveland" with its powerful rhythm section anchoring Cindy Wilson's soaring vocal gets me hopping.  "Deep Sleep" goes exotica even featuring a sample from Martin Denny.  Kate Pierson delivers the dreamy lyrics over a hypnotic beat.  Side one ends with the title track where Fred Schneider finally makes his appearance at the mike.  It is classic B-52's with its hilarious lyrics, Schneider's mannered vocal supported by some creative background singing from Pierson and Wilson, and a relentless dance groove.  One of my all time favorite B-52's songs.  Side two starts with "Cake," another classic.  The ladies lasciviously croon about making cakes while the horns and rhythm section deliver another funky foundation for their verbal hijinks.  It is great fun and more than a little sexy.  "Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can" is about an irresistible beat that is driving Schneider crazy.  I can see why as the music backs him up with another powerful dance groove driven by some great bass riffs.  I just can't sit still while it is playing.  The album ends all too soon with Cindy Wilson belting out "Nip It In the Bud" over more kinetic funk.  It is another hyper-propulsive song that gets me twitching and shaking like I'm having a seizure.  It is really a shame that this project was cut short.  Judging from the six outstanding songs it produced, it had the potential to be the best B-52's album ever.  Despite it's brevity it is among my favorites of all their albums.  Recommended to people whose favorite Talking Heads album is "Remain In Light."    

1 comment:

  1. I love the song "Mesopotamia," but I never could get into the EP on the whole. I'm partial to "Wild Planet" myself...