... A Sour Apple Tree

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Location: Huntington, WV, United States

I'm a 37 year-old guy from Huntington, WV.

Monday, June 04, 2007

...ASAT trolls The B-52's

Today, one of ...ASAT's favorite party bands, The B-52's, gets a crappy retrospective.

"Rock Lobster": First up is an early live rendition (complete with more cowbell). You can tell that it is still a relatively new song, and Fred and the band are all kind of tentative as to how to get things started. There are also of different lyrics than later version. And damn, don' t they all look so young? A few years later, some record producers got hold of it, polished it up, gave it a Rhode Island School of Design-eque video, the song took off, and kinda-sorta helped to invent the alternative genre of music, thereby making it one of the most important (if not exactly one of the best) songs of the past 30 years.

"Private Idaho": No, Gus Van Sant didn't coin the phrase "My own private Idaho" to represent a person's isolated, delusional dreamworld/mind bucket. Nope, that'd be The B-52's.

"Monster": In 1984, Fred Schneider decided to put together a solo album called Fred Schneider and the Shake Society. Of the tracks on the disc, "Monster" is probably the most well-known. Its video features Fred (wearing a lambskin) and some phallic cartoon characters warning Ru Paul and Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth of a monster in his pants.

Cosmic Thing: Apparently, the only song from this great album that is till known by radio station programming directors and friends that make mix cds for me is "Love Shack" (tiiiiiiiiiiiiin roof, rusted"). While I, like everyone born between 1964 and 1981, enjoys the occasional shack attack, there are two songs on the album that are, quite frankly, better:

"Deadbeat Club" reflects on their early days in Athens and as always stuck me as something of a tribute to former guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS in 1985.

"Roam" is by far my favorite B-52's song. The vocals are performed by only Kate Pierson (who really gets a chance to show her chops) and Cindy Wilson, while Fred's role is limited to mugging for the camera in the video. The song is, at least at the surface, about traveling the globe and experiencing life from a perspective and a place different from your own, in doing so creating a response to the existentialism expressed in fellow Athenians REM's classic "Stand." I think it was this song that first planted the seeds in my mind that would eventually lead to me studying abroad for a semester in college, one of the most valuable experiences of my life (it was even used in a PSA for student exchange). The song, especially when listened to next to "Monster," also proves that Fred needs Kate, Cindy, and Keith a whole helluva lot more than they need him.

They have done stuff since Cosmic Thing, but their later work has really just amounted to one crappy album (Good Stuff) and two lazy covers of cartoon theme songs (Rocko's Modern Life and The Flintstones). Fortunately, it appears that, during their concerts, they stick to the classics and venture very little into their mediocre work.
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2 Comments:

Blogger oncee said...

Great stuff. Ricky Wilson was a god.

Monday, June 04, 2007  
Blogger Chris James said...

Rumor has it that God called him home 'cause He needed a guitarist for the band He was forming, Yaweh and the Bunnymen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007  

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