Artist: The B-52s
Genre: New Wave, Art rock
Title: Wild Planet
Label: Warner Bros
Musicians:Fred Schneider -(vocals, percussion, keyboards), Kate Pierson -(organ, keyboards, bass, vocals), Cindy Wilson- (vocals, bongos, tambourine), Ricky Wilson- (guitars, bass), and Keith Strickland -(drums, guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, various instruments)
Producer: Chris Blackwell, Rhett Davies & The B-52s
The B-52s are an American new wave band, formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1976. They started as a party band just playing around at friends parties and such.
Rooted in new wave and 1960s rock and roll, the group later covered many genres ranging from post-punk to pop rock. The “guy vs. gals” vocals of Schneider, Pierson, and Wilson, sometimes used in call and response style (“Strobe Light,” “Private Idaho”, and “Good Stuff”), are a trademark.
The B-52’s were formed in 1976 when vocalist Cindy Wilson, her older brother and guitarist Ricky, organist and vocalist Kate Pierson, original drummer and percussionist Keith Strickland and cowbell player, poet and vocalist Fred Schneider played an impromptu musical jam session after sharing a tropical Flaming volcano drink at a Chinese restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Other ideas they had to name their band were the “Tina-Trons” and “Felini’s Children”. When they first jammed, Strickland played guitar and Wilson played congas. They later played their first concert (with Wilson playing guitar) in 1977 at a Valentine’s Day party for their friends.
The band’s name comes from a particular beehive hairdo resembling the nose cone of the aircraft of the same name. Keith Strickland suggested the name after a dream he had one night, of a band performing in a hotel lounge. In the dream he heard someone whisper in his ear that the name of the band was “the B-52s.” The band’s quirky take on the new wave sound of their era was a combination of dance and surf music set apart from their contemporaries by the unusual guitar tunings used by Ricky Wilson and thrift-store chic.
Their first single, “Rock Lobster”, recorded for DB Records in 1978, was an underground success, selling over 2,000 copies in total, that led to the B-52’s performing at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in New York City.
The re-recorded version of “Rock Lobster” was released as a single. In the UK and Germany it was backed with an instrumental version of “Running Around”, a non-album track. (A vocal re-recording of this would appear on their second album, Wild Planet.)
In 1979, the B-52’s signed contracts with Warner Bros. Records for North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand; and with Island Records for the UK, Europe, and Asia. Chris Blackwell, founder of Island, produced their debut studio album. Recorded at Blackwell’s Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas and released on July 6, 1979, The B-52’s contained re-recorded versions of “Rock Lobster” and “52 Girls”, six originals recorded solely for the album, and a remake of the Petula Clark single “Downtown”. According to the band interview on the DVD With the Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA, the band was surprised by Blackwell’s recording methods; he wanted to keep the sound as close as possible to their actual live sound so used almost no overdubs or additional effects. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_B-52%27s
Wild Planet is the second studio album by The B-52’s, released in 1980.
It was very well received by critics, most of whom regarded it as a strong second album following the success of their first. Many fans consider it their best album.
Personally, I would not agree that this is their best album musically, but there are some great songs on it, all that is just my opinion. I find much of this album to have a rather experimental sound to it.
The highlights for me on this album start with the first track “Party Out Of Bounds”. While it may not be my favorite track, I can’t think of a more appropriate song for this band to come up with. The lyrics are fantastic as it describes their roots of when they first started out.
I find the simplicity of the second track “Dirty Back Road” to be enjoyable as it is the less “wild” than the other tracks and features the female vocals nicely, which by the way are very strong and very good as usual for this band.
Jumping to track number 5 (not literally during listening, mind you) is one of my favorites, “Private Idaho”. I wish I knew why it is one of my favorites, but it’s just a crazy, fun and funny song and a quintessential party song if I ever heard one.
I have to say that in my opinion, track six and seven are tied for most annoying on the album. they are very experimental sounding and just the same note over and over. On to track 8, another favorite of mine, “Strobe Light”. Again, I don’t know exactly why I find it a favorite except perhaps that it’s just fun and crazy and maybe I really enjoy their trade mark call and response style.
The album ends with a lackluster ditty, “53 Miles West Of Venus” in my opinion.
I gave the music of this album 2.5 stars because while I like the B-52s enough to rate higher in my opinion, this album was just too far into a more experimental art sound with not enough songs to hold attention in my opinion.
I rated the sound at the highest of 5 stars as normally, the vinyl version might sound better, (we don’t know), because of the make up of this band and their style, the CD version, however it was recorded (judging by who did it, it was done very well), is plenty good.