Its The B-52s
By Rick Coates 8/17/09
Okay, it is time to bust out the poodle skirts, cat-eyeglasses, saddle shoes and beehive hairdos to jump in a car as big as a whale, and Roam to the Love Shack on Planet Claire (Odawa Casino) for your own Private Idaho and a little Rock Lobster. Yes, after riding the New Wave music scene of the late 70s and 80s, The B-52s are still going strong and are on the second leg of their two-year tour in support of a new CD and a resurgence of their music.
Bursting on the scene 33 years ago, The B-52s will take the stage this Saturday night at the Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey.
They have mysteriously dropped the apostrophe with the release of their new album; according to band member Fred Schneider there are more important things for us to concern ourselves about than whether or not we have an apostrophe, to put it simply we are going forward from this point without one.
Schneiders mysterious response to the now apostrophe-less B-52s seems to fit the bands musical moniker of often catchy but lyrically meaningless songs. Though Keith Strickland, the bands original drummer who took over the guitar duties when founding member Ricky Wilson (brother of Cindy) died of complications of HIV-AIDS in 1985, might disagree with their songs having meaningless lyrics.
Im trying to convey a feeling when I write, said Strickland. I like to think of my instrumentals as landscapes. The chord changes, rhythms and sound quality of the instruments are all aspects of a sonic space, which is designed for Cindy, Fred and Kate to step into. I want them to feel inspired by the music and expand on that feeling with their melodies and lyrics.
That is the approach the band took with Funplex, their first CD in more than 16 years.
Working with Stricklands instrumental foundations, founding members Kate Pearson, Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson commenced with their trademark jamming, creating melody lines, lyrics, and vocal harmonies, to create the new CD.
Most people could not do this, laughs Wilson, of their democratic modus operandi. What were trying to do is rare, but it works out. And you get a song that is multi-faceted, and has different senses of humor, and depth to it.
Funplex debuted at number 11 on the Billboard album charts, the highest ever debut release for The B-52s. Despite several hits and having their Cosmic Thing CD go platinum five times anchored by songs Love Shack and Roam, the group has never had a number one hit in the United States (Love Shack went to number three as did Roam -- both were number one hits in Australia). This fact doesnt concern Schneider or his bandmates who are pleased that their fans have embraced their new work
In one sense it is very different than what we have done in the past, it is a lot more electronic and I think that stems from us all listening to a lot of electronic music, said Schneider. In another sense Funplex sounds like us, just updated. It is the B-52s now or maybe 15 years from now.
So, after 33 years do these punk/new wave rockers still have it? Kristian Bush of country duo Sugarland believes so.
We decided to surprise everyone at this years CMT Country Music Awards by having them join us on stage, said Bush. We did Love Shack -- at first, it was just Jennifer and I singing the song, then we brought them on stage to sing it with us and they brought the house down.
Will fans have to wait another 16 years for the B-52s to put out another CD?
I do not know, we financed this one ourselves and with all this downloading and hardly anyone buying CDs it is a difficult and expensive endeavor, said Schneider. I was actually working on solo stuff when the rest of the band wanted to put this CD together, so I put those projects on the back burner. After all, what people really want is a B-52s CD.
They also want to see them live as their concerts have been selling out all over the world. The B-52s We Dont Need No Apostrophe tour comes to the Odawa Casino Resort this Saturday with only a few tickets remaining. For ticket information odawacasino.com or call 877.442.6464 and for more information on the B-52s and to listen to a sampling of songs from Funplex check out theb52s.com