See the original "Culling the Herd" post here.
The B-52s, "Rock Lobster" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

I spent my sophomore year at Michigan exposing the group to new wave  and punk stuff that they hadn't really listened to much (at least, that's the way it is in my memory), if at all.  When I got there, I think most of the music was Motown and more-classic rock stuff...On the rare occasions that I got control of the record player, I'd throw in stuff like the Stray Cats and the Clash and R.E.M. and The B-52s...stuff from what used to be called "College" radio, although I would try to stay on the poppier side of the dial, just to keep everyone dancing.  Eventually, John would take that and go way, way beyond me to stuff like Husker Du and Nine Inch Nails, but for a while I saw myself as some sort of alternative music Johnny Appleseed.  Ah, youth, when your musical taste was unassailable, and your time was best spent evangelizing to the musical philistines.

"Rock Lobster" is a wonderful, delightful confection, a gimmick record that just so happens to have one of the greatest hooks ever.  That bass line...I defy anyone to listen to that opening and not start at least tapping their toes.  What a keeper.  The rest of the album is not as good, as I recall, but no matter.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have the "Wild Planet" album on my iTunes:  I still have the cassette somewhere, and it's dynamite.  I don't mean it has some high points, I mean it's spectacular from beginning to end.  I know I'm trying to cull things here, but man, that's going to be my first pickup when I get done.

The B-52s, "Cosmic Thing" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

"Cosmic Thing," it has been written, was kinda the last chance for the B-52s.  Ricky Wilson's death had torn the heart out of the band a couple of albums earlier, and while "Bouncing Off The Satellites" is not (as I recall) a bad record, things just hadn't been the same for a while.  "Cosmic" marked a slight left turn, and it's a fantastic record.  Don Was focused things, but most importantly the songs are terrific.  It's interesting that "Roam" was the first single, since "Love Shack" was such a monster hit.  "Shack" is not, for my money, the best song on the record, though - that would be...oh, hell, I don't know, "Bushfire"?  "Deadbeat Club"?  "Dry County" is such a wonderful song, with a great groove but with this languid evocation of sitting on a porch in the summer and drinking something cold.  On "Junebug," Fred Schneider sings a chorus of "whoa, whoa, whoa-whoa-whoa!" and it doesn't feel ironic, it just feels joyful.

I've been listening to this record for...let's see...22 years, and it still seems fresh.  Amazing.
AuthorMatthew Riegler