Throwback: The B-52s-Mesopotamia

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Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson, Fred Schneider and Keith Strickland became The B-52’s in 1977 after an impromptu jam at a Chinese restaurant in their Athens, GA hometown. B-52 is a slang term for the beehive hairstyles the women would wear for their stage personas. Their quirky but danceable sound was influenced by New Wave, ’60’s pop, R&B, and Fellini. In 1978 they released their first single “Rock Lobster” independently and it became a huge underground success that lead to their first NYC concert appearances. These gigs attracted the media and their first recording contract with Warner Brothers. The B-52’s was their 1979 eponymous debut of kitschy fun made immortal because of “Rock Lobster,” “Planet Claire,” “52 Girls” and “Dance This Mess Around.” Wild Planet was a successful sophomore album commercially identified by the singles, “Party Out Of Bounds,” “Private Idaho” and “Give Me Back My Man.” David Byrne worked with them on Mesopotamia for an intended album project that became an EP. The record industry considered the outcome to be a modest achievement but the band had reached a critical mass creatively and already laid the foundation for the future alternative scene. Mesopotamia’s dance rock also reached a huge urban audience because of influential Detroit DJ The Electrifying Mojo. Whammy seemed to be a reaction to the criticism of Mesopotamia from critics who described it as the band’s losing of the way. The third album was designed to return them to the New Wave sound and “Legal Tender,” “Whammy Kiss” and “Song For A Future Generation” made it to the dance charts. Bouncing Off The Satellites was their fourth album and despite the popularity of “Wig,” “Summer Of Love” and “Girl From Ipanema Goes Greenland” it was a turning point for them because Ricky Wilson died. They took time off to grieve Wilson’s passing and to decide if they would continue to make music. Three years later they returned with the Niles Rodgers and Don Was produced Cosmic Thing. “Love Shack” and “Roam” would become two of their most recognized songs and make them mainstream pop stars. “Channel Z” was another noteworthy single from the collection and rare B-52’s song to get a video. Was and Rodgers would also take over the production duties for their sixth album Good Stuff. The title track made it to radio and garnered them a Grammy nomination. It was also the first and only album without Cindy Wilson’s vocals. Sixteen years went by before they returned to recording and completed Funplex. The title track and “Juliet Of The Spirits” were the singles and this was the time when they chose to remove the apostrophe from their name. In 2012 they celebrated 35 years in the business by releasing their first live concert, B52s: With The Wild Crowd! Live In Athens, GA on DVD.