Friday, March 23, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 259 - The B-52s - Cosmic Thing

Album – Cosmic Thing
Artist – The B-52's
Key Players – Keith Strickland - guitars. Kate Pierson – vocals. Cindy Wilson – vocals. Fred Schneider – vocals.
Produced By – Nile Rogers and Don Was

Release Date – June 27, 1989

What caused me to blow off the dust? Admit love Roam.

Overview – The new wave pop rock band was formed in Athens, Georgia in 1976 have released eight studio albums (this one being the fifth and biggest seller). The odd ball party band has had their ups and downs (the 1985 death of guitarist Ricky Wilson) and label issues, but their “reformation” in 1989 and the release of this record re-launched them as pop/party music masters. The album would sell well globally and spawn four top 100 singles and go 4x platinum in the USA.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 10 song album opens up with the title track “Cosmic Thing”. It jumps right out of the gate. Schneider sings quickly and Pierson and Wilson offer the great high harmonies and wall of sound for backing vocals. Strickland is quiet on the guitar offering up short fills. The track is delivered at a quick pace and is a solid and fun opener. The keyboard repeat the same loop as “Dry County” gets off the ground. The track is a little slower as the vocals are sung. It does have a lazy feel. Strickland is responsible for the keyboard line along with Philippe Saisse. Sonny Emory keeps the track tight with the slapping snare drum. The homage to just sitting on your porch in a swing, being unable to drink alcohol is the message you get here. The track actually has two separate choruses. One is used early, and the other late. Wilson and Pierson get the credit for the lead vocals on the next track, “Deadbeat Club”. Emory plays drums on this track and once more shows his attention to the snare, snapping of it quickly and often. The ladies harmonies are wonderful with neither stepping on the other. Each is given their moment and they are just so tight the merge is seeming less. A really solid track. The most well know track from the band has to be “Love Shack”. Either you love it or hate it, I don't think there is a middle ground on it. When it comes down to it, and if you can listen to the vocals on the track. Between the Wilson and Pierson high harmonies to Schneider offering up his quirky yelps and lines. It is a fun song, really it is. The Uptown Horns are responsible for the compliment to everything. Pierson is plays the keyboards on the track, but it is not high up in the mix. Still, its a solid track. The sounds of spring was over the speakers as the track “Junebug” gets ready to start. Strickland has the keyboard into with Schneider striking the percussive instruments. Not to be outdone, drummer Charlie Drayton pushes everyone forward. Schneider takes the first few lines, but Pierson and Wilson take turns before the three sing together. The track is on the quick side, with the vocals seeming frantic at times with the ladies shouting “Go,Go Go!” with a lot of pep and vigor. Wilson and Pierson again join forces as another big hit from the band “Roam”begins. The ladies again are the lead vocalists on the track. Bassist Sara Lee (who has been on a number of tracks) is solid giving the solid bottom that Strickland finds easy to do guitar runs over. One thing I never realized, or noticed, is the fact Schneider is not on the track at all. “Bushfire” has drummer Charlie Drayton getting things moving. Schneider sings the first line, but the drums click down and the ladies share vocal duties again. Strickland has a crunchy and quick guitar line that pushes the cut forward. Although overall a strong tune, it doesn't really break itself out. A track I always dug, and perhaps due to a very cool split screen Saturday Night Live performance (I swear) of the track “Channel Z”. Drayton gets things off to a steady pace and it must be the twangy guitar rungs from Strickland that grab me, or, as always, the great work of the three vocalists. Solid “deep track” from this record. Producer Nile Rogers plays some of the guitar parts on “Topaz”. You can feel his funk influences as the guitars have short, almost cutting wah wah lines. Wilson and Pierson are a little lighter with their singing and Schneider will chime in about every third or fourth line. Sara Lee is on bass and drummer Leory Clouden and as per the album, tight and composed. The record concludes with the track “Follow Your Bliss”. Largely a “lead vocal” free track Pierson and Lee offer some backing vocals but this is a guitar showcase for Strickland. The track has a bit of blues guitar playing with Lee and Clouden again on support. There are three various keyboard parts by Strickland, Lee and Richard Hilton that all mesh well. An almost “calming” close out track to a fun, party record.

Where are they now? - The band are still active. They perform live at a steady, but casual pace (indications of 50-75 shows a year), but have been quiet with a studio album for a bit of time. The last studio album was the 2008 release “Funplex”. Wilson and Pierson always seem to be popping up as guest vocalists and Schneider hosted a radio show on Sirius for a few years.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I've never seen them live.

FDF Overall Take – Okay so you hate Roam, or Love Shack, but get over it. The band is tight, and we don't get vocals like this very often anymore. There are some hidden gems on this record, so its okay to toss this on again (in your car is fine) and find the magic. They are not 1 or 2 hit wonders here, they've been doing it for a fair number of years. Your older ears will hear things you never knew were there. Try it again for the first time.

Official site.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!


Dry County (Live)

Channel Z (The SNL Rehersal) Very cool

The album is pretty easy to find.


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