Tag Archive | "The B-52s"

Cindy Wilson – Change

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Cindy Wilson – Change

Posted on 16 November 2017 by Joe

Most bands struggle to get by with one good singer. How they must envy The B-52s, who are blessed with three great vocalists – Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider.

Of this trio Cindy is the favourite for many, with her impassioned vocals making tracks such as Give Me Back My Man and Dance this Mess Around among the band’s best.

Cindy Wilson change

The surprising news for those getting hold of this first ever solo album from Wilson, is that the Cindy Wilson of then is nowhere to be seen here. There are no screams of love, no sultry Southern delivery. Instead her delivery is soft, whispering at times.

But that’s not to say this is to be dismissed.  In fact the opposite is the case as  this collection from a ‘changed’ Cindy Wilson is very fine indeed – full of smart electro pop and one that will please fans of St Etienne in particular.

The Tubeway Army sounding synth sounds on Mystic make this a particularly striking track, the heavy bass on Brother is a joy and there’s a lovely pop melody to the funk infused No One Can Tell You.

While this album doesn’t play to her incredible vocal strengths it does still showcase her role as one of the all time great pop artists, and one that is more than happy to embrace new styles.


by Joe Lepper


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Top 10 Albums – Here’s Mine, What Are Yours?

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Top 10 Albums – Here’s Mine, What Are Yours?

Posted on 10 July 2014 by Joe

We’ve covered our Top 100 alternative and independent albums, Top 10 debut albums and also compiled lists of our favourite folk and psychedelic albums. But I thought for a change I’d take away the restrictions of time and genre and present a list of my top ten albums as a way of finding out what your Top 10 Albums are. It’s a trickier task than you may think. I have constant nagging doubts that I should have included Lou Reed’s Transformer or Blondie’s Parallel Lines. You will face similar dilemmas. Feel free to tell us your Top 10 albums of all time in the comment box below.

10. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (1989)


Following their huge debut album Licensed to Ill the Beastie Boys second album went in a more experimental direction under producers The Dust Brothers and became one of the best ever examples of sampling. From Public Enemy to The Beatles through to Curtis Mayfield and film soundtracks there are hundreds of snippets that make up each track. The end product is a tribute to music and modern culture and an outstanding album from start to finish. To find out more about the songs and riffs featured on the album click here.

9. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – Gorilla (1967)


As a child, back when there were record players and cassettes and MP3s were the stuff of a mad man’s dreams, this was one of a handful of albums I used to beg my parents to play. This debut by art college psychedelic 1920s jazz mash up specialists is fun thanks to the humour of songwriter and vocalists Vivian Stanshall. But above all its got great tunes thanks to the involvement of Neil Inness, who went on to form the Rutles and has an outstanding ear for a good pop song. With tracks such as Cool Britannia, the Intro and the Outro and I’m Bored regularly used in advertising, TV and film this obscurity from a silly age will be surprisingly familiar.

8. The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree (2005)


There are autobiographical albums and then there’s The Sunset Tree by The Mountain Goats and its frontman and songwriter John Darnielle. Here he lays bare an adolescence in the shadow of domestic abuse where he escapes into music, romance, drink and drugs. Its an album about survival and must have taken a huge amount of courage to write. Final track Pale Green Things, recalls the death of his step father and is so emotional and personal he can’t even play it live anymore. It is an impressive piece of work that shows the courage of young people and led me to become a fan of Darnielle and his band ever since. For more about The Mountain Goats read our Top Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives article here.

7. Fairport Convention- Liege and Lief (1969)


A running theme of the albums I’ve selected is an admiration of the effort that has gone into their writing and production. Fairport Convention Liege and Lief’s was written and recorded following a tragic motorway accident in which their drummer Martin Lamble died and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend Jeannie Franklin also lost her life. What emerged was one of the most influential folk albums of all time as their mourning, painstaking research into traditional English folk and rock roots came together to create an outstanding set of songs. From Tam Lin to Crazy Man Michael this album is to this day one of the most exciting of any genre.

6. Highway 61 Revisited (1965)


I came late to Bob Dylan. It was something about the voice, the Christianity and whole 1980s rock star image that put me off. Then I saw Martin Scorcese’s documentary centred around his mid 1960s albums and the time he went electric. From Bringing It All Back Home to Highway 61 revisited to Blonde on Blonde it remains my favourite period of Dylan’s music. Of the three Highway stands tallest, just. Like a Rolling Stone is its most well known track but the power of Ballad of a Thin Man and Desolation Row are among those that keep me coming back to this album time and again.

5. The B-52s – The B-52s (1977)


When Rock Lobster, one of the singles from this debut from the Athens based band, was re released in the mid 1980s, I had no idea just how talented they were. I loved Rock Lobster but after getting this debut album I was awestruck. Ricky Wilson’s guitar playing is unique and in they were also blessed with three incredible vocalists, with Ricky’s sister Cindy particularly standing out. Her emotion on Dance This Mess Around and Hero Worship alone are worth the cover price alone. For more about The B-52s read our Top Ten Artists That Changed Our Lives feature here.

4. XTC – English Settlement (1982)


On a monthly basis I kick myself for not including this in our Top 100 Indie and Alternative Albums list. Our XTC album of choice was the excellent Drums and Wires. But as the years have gone by it is English Settlement that I now believe was the Swindon band’s masterpiece. Sure it has the singles Sense Working Overtime and Ball and Chain, but it’s the lesser known tracks such as No Thugs in Our House and English Roundabout that really shine here. It was to have opened the door to fame and fortune, but sadly coincided with a chronic bout of stage fright for song writer Andy Partridge who was unable to tour following its release or indeed since. For more about XTC read our Top Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives article here.

3. The Clash – London Calling (1979)


Of all The Clash albums none are so perfectly executed as their third London Calling. Steeped in Caribbean and US influences this manages to expertly show The Clash for what they were a London punk band with a global outlook. This topped our Top 100 Indie and Alternative Albums list and remains one of my favourite albums thanks to superb lyrics on tacks like Lost in the Supermarket and instant pop appeal of tracks such as Train in Vain. Listening again it barely ages and remains a timeless classic. Read our full review of London Calling here.

2.  David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)


Last year I detailed my surprise discovery that David Bowie wasn’t just a silly man dancing in his pyjamas wth Mick Jagger. He was in fact the coolest man in music as albums such as Low, Heroes and this pre-Ziggy album clearly show. Of all his albums that I’ve recently discovered this is my favourite due to its sheer quantity of classic, inventive pop songs. Any album that has the tracks Changes and All You Pretty Things is deserving of a place on this list. But to add in Life on Mars, Queen Bitch and Quicksand as well makes this album one of the best pop albums of all time..

1. The Beatles – Revolver (1966)


Hey what about Sgt Peppers, Joe? Well, what about it? This seventh UK studio album from the Fab Four is by miles and miles of old George Martin infused studio tape the best Beatles album and in my view the best album of all time. You want pop? It’s got it in Taxman and Dr Robert. You want stunning orchestral melodies? Well, why not check out Eleanor Rigby. Or maybe awesome rock rifts are your thing, in that case She Said She Said will appeal. It’s even got the children’s classic Yellow Submarine, and on Tomorrow Never Knows a track that quite rightly is used to herald the start of counter culture. And then there’s the production with Martin’s backwards loops redefining music. Sgt Peppers is good, but this was the real game changer for modern music.

by Joe Lepper


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Top Ten Guitarists (That Don’t Often Make Top Ten Guitarists Lists)

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Top Ten Guitarists (That Don’t Often Make Top Ten Guitarists Lists)

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Joe

“What! You fools! Where’s Hendrix? Where’s Clapton?” OK, so this is a top ten guitarists list without some of the best guitarists in it. We accept that, but what we wanted to do was create a list that didn’t have the same, boring faces on it and instead honour  those that often fail to make the usual top tens. We’ve gone for those with undoubted skill but also the power to influence thousands of other guitarists and change a band’s direction all through their unique brand of fretmanship. Sit back, crack open a pack of Ernie Ball super slinky strings and enjoy Neon Filler’s distinct Top Ten Guitarists list.

(To coincide with the release of this list we are also offering the chance to win a set of luxury plectrums. Head over to our competition page for further details.)

10. Roddy Byers (The Specials)

When you think of The Specials you probably think of a great ska beat, the witty and socially aware lyrics, or perhaps the horn section booming out on tracks such as ‘Ghost Town’. But for us it was the lead guitar playing of Roddy Byers that left us mesmerised.  Because The Specials were not a guitar band in the sense of the early Beatles or the Stones Byers contribution can easily be overlooked, but take a closer listen and there’s some great guitar work going on.  Among our favourite Special’s tracks featuring Byers’ skills are ‘Concrete Jungle’ (a song Byers wrote) and ‘It’s Up to You’.

9. Ricky Wilson (The B-52s)

The B-52s guitarist Ricky Wilson’s style sounded like a bizarre new wave version of Duane Eddy and involved some of the strangest tunings and string removals in modern music. Five strings, with the G string missing was among his common methods, but he also often played with just four on his trusty Mosrite. The Mosrite forum has some interesting listings of his open tuning string configurations for some of the band’s key songs if you want to attempt to recreate Ricky’s unusual style. Be warned though replicating Wilson’s tuning may be tricky. He died in 1985  and according to the Mosrite forum Wilson reportedly once said “I just tune the strings till I hear something I like, and then something comes out…No, I don’t write anything down I have no idea how the tunings go.”

8. Johnny Hickman

Johnny Hickman is the smartly coiffured lead guitarist in the Virgina based band Cracker. His country rock sound is influenced by punk, surf and classic pop. Like all great guitarists he knows just when to hold back and when to let rip. He is a sophisticated player, and he needs to be when he is playing songs written by David Lowery, one of the most esoteric people in pop music. He is just as skilled when playing the grungey ‘Low’ as he is a country ballad like ‘Darling One’ but is at his most comfortable playing the bluesy riffs and soloing like he does in the above clip of ‘Been Around The World’.

7. Dallas and Travis Good (The Sadies)

Dallas and Travis GoodThe more perceptive reader will have noticed that this is actually two people, albeit two closely related ones, but there is another very good reason for their joint inclusion. They have an amazing trick where they play each others guitars.A photo doesn’t do this full justice, I’ve seen them live a few times and I’m still amazed every time. Of course there’s much more to their playing than just one party trick and their band, The Sadies, are brilliant. We’ve banned the likes of Syd Barrett from this feature but if it’s 60’s rock you’re after The Sadies’ cover of Lucifer Sam, everyone’s favourite diabolic cat, should do the trick. Like fellow Canadian Neil these guys really rock albeit it in a more interestingly psychedelic alt-country kind of way.

6. Dave Gregory (XTC)

Dave Gregory had been playing the guitar in bands  since he was a teenager in the 1960s but it wasn’t until  a decade later when he joined XTC that his talent gained the audience it deserved. He transformed XTC’s  style and spent the next 20 years beautifully augmenting the songs of its chief writers Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding with his inventive, exciting guitar parts. Sometimes jazz, sometimes pure pop, his solos were intricate but never showy and his riffs were always catchy. He now plies his trade with The Tin Spirits, and their act contains a number of XTC hits, including ‘Scissor Man’ which is a great example of his technically inventive style.

5. Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet came to prominence when he joined the psychedelic desert rock group Green On Red in 1985. His unique take on Stonesey guitar playing would lead them down a country blues root for the rest of their recording career.  Since 1990 he has had a successful solo career and also been an in demand session guitarist for a range of artists including Bob Neuwirth, Kelly Willis, Aimee Mann, Warren Zevon, Jonathan Richman, Lucinda Williams and Cake. His solo outings have tended to be more restrained affairs with the guitar heroics taking a back seat to the singing and songwriting. It is with Green On Red, particularly live, that Prophet lets rip and blasts out impossible riffs and scorching guitar solos. The clip above shows us how it is done, the solo starts at 1:30 and seems to last until the end of the song.

4. Brian Baker

Brian Baker is one of the most influential guitarists in the history of punk. From his early bands Minor Threat and Dag Nasty through to his current band Bad Religion his style is often copied. At the heart of his playing is a powerful and warm distortion that somehow allows the melody and his distinct way of finger picking chords to shine through. When we recently included Can I Say, the 1986 debut from Dag Nasty in our Top 100 Albums list, FlexMyHead, a contributor on the Daghouse forum (dedicated to all things Dag Nasty) gave us this excellent review of Baker’s playing. “I think that the way Brian Baker would slip into single picking/notes and just his guitar sound was more important than his bar chords, kinda in the same way that the Adolescents and D.I. pioneered the use of that sliding octave chords for melody, I think Brian Baker defined some of the melodic-punk staples the bands have gone on to use. Even in a current punk band like Strike Anywhere, I hear Brian Baker’s influence in their guitar work, even if the music is not quite the same.”

3. David Rawlings

Best known as the musical partner of Gillian Welch, David Rawlings is right at the top of the list of guitarists we’ve had the pleasure of seeing live. As you can see from the clip his technical ability is off the radar and adds to his spell binding performances. While Welch tops the bill, Rawlings is just as much of a star. Others realise this too with Rawlings having played on Ryan Adams’s albums Demolition and Heartbreaker, which was recently named a Neon Filler Top 100 album. He’s also appeared on two Bright Eyes albums, Cassadaga and Four Winds.

2. Buster B Jones

Buster B Jones wasn’t one for interviews and was reportedly uncomfortable with fame. Yet this blues man was one of the most influential and dazzling guitar players of all time. His life was tragically cut short at 49 when liver failure got the better of him but he has never been forgotten. Despite having his name inlaid in his fret board in mother of pearl this was a rare moment of immodesty for this warm and friendly guitar legend.

1. Davey Graham

Other British guitarists are better known but are any more influential? The late Davy Graham pioneered the British folk guitar boom of the 1960s and influenced a generation of songwriters from Paul Simon to Bert Jansch. Perhaps his most famous composition was ‘Anji’, which Jansch in particular does a great version of. Part of Graham’s skill was his eclectic approach to guitar music, using it to both reinvigorate English folk music and bring music from around the world to a Western audience. North Africa, eastern Europe and India are just of the musical destinations his musical prowess covered. The album Folk Roots, New Routes, with Shirley Collins and The Guitar Player, featuring a beautiful version of the Julie London hit ‘Cry Me A River’, are among the many highlights in his back catalogue.

Compiled by Martin Burns, Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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Top 100 Albums (The Top 10)

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Top 100 Albums (The Top 10)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

So here it is. After two months of releasing this list in stages we’ve finally arrived at our Top 10 indie and alternative albums. Hope you enjoy this final instalment. Feel free to browse through the rest of the top 100 here and leave a comment about some of your favourites.

10. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

This debut by The Stone Roses is an old fashioned album, full of 1960s influences. This is perhaps unsurprising given it was produced by John Leckie, whose previous efforts include two albums by XTC’s psychedelic alter egos Dukes of Stratosphear. Yet in 1989 when it was released it sounded like the most exciting and different album for years.  Decades on and it’s lost none of its energy and is arguably the best album to emerge from the so called ‘baggy’ scene of late 1980s Manchester. Highlights include the indie-dancebility of final track ‘I Am The Resurrection’, ‘Waterfall ‘and its backwards companion piece ‘Don’t Stop’, and ‘She Bangs the Drum’. In an interview with Quietus Leckie, who is the most name checked producer in our Top 100, explains that the album’s success was down to the band’s confidence and open minded approach to making music. “They seemed to have had experience, they were very well rehearsed and they wanted to try lots of things. But they weren’t frightened,” says Leckie.

9. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

After an underwhelming debut with 1995’s AM Jeff Tweedy’s post-Uncle Tupelo band have released a string of brilliant records from 1996’s Being There through to 2009’s Wilco (The Album). Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the album that demonstrates all that is good about America’s best rock n roll band. Recorded with a line-up that featured the late Jay Bennett, the multi-instrumentalist who would leave the band prior to the albums release (tensions during the recording are brilliantly documented in Sam Jones’ film ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’). The album earned the band the tag of the alt-country Radiohead due to the more experimental production techniques and sounds used by producer Jim O’Rourke. The albums reputation as being challenging is more down to the record labels reaction (and refusal to release it) than it is to the songs themselves. ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’ has a weird feel and an erratic beat and ‘Radio Cure’ has an uncomfortable starkness but most of the record is very accessible and features some of the bands best realised songs. ‘Kamera’, ‘War On War’, ‘I’m The Man That Loves You’ and ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’ are all great catchy tunes that sit comfortably with the more cerebral tracks.

8. Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand

Bee Thousand, originally released in 1994, represented a turning point for Robert Pollard’s Guided By Voices. It was intended as the band’s swansong due to the lack of attention and money their previous five albums had garnered. The album was recorded in various basements, rather than the studio, and was primarily the work of Pollard and Tobin Sprout (with various members of the “classic line-up” pitching in). The songs were recorded in just a few takes on to simple 4-track equipment and the rough and ready sound is one of the album’s charms. Guided By Voices albums from this time are an acquired taste, with half formed song snippets sitting alongside  rough diamond pop classics like ‘I Am A Scientist’ and ‘Echos Myron’. However, this is all part of the magic formula that makes Bee Thousand so special. There are no songwriters out there like Robert Pollard, no bands like Guided By Voices and no albums like Bee Thousand – this is a pretty special record.

7. The B-52s- The B-52s

Two years after performing their first gig at a Valentine’s Day party in 1977 in their hometown of Georgia, Athens, the B-52s self titled debut hit the stores. It was a sleeper hit in 1979 reaching 59 in the US Billboard 200 but has since been widely recognised as one of the best alternative albums of all time. Blending new wave, punk, 1950’s sci-fi kitsch and Duane Eddy style guitar playing the tracks have a strange timeless feel. Above all they are fun. There’s some silly stuff like ‘Rock Lobster’, but tracks like ‘Hero Worship’ and ‘Dance This Mess Around’ are serious, emotional stuff and showcase the powerful vocal talents of singer Cindy Wilson. For more about The B-52s read our Top Ten Artists That Changed Our Lives feature here.

6. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise

Sufjan Stevens probably regrets his claim that he would release an album for every American state, a feat that would be difficult to achieve and probably not an enjoyable or ultimately successful task. Illinois is his second and, thus far, last in the series. Nobody likes a show-off but it is hard to resent Steven’s ability to play every instrument under the sun when he produces music as wonderful as this in the process. The album covers a sprawling 22 eccentrically titled tracks ranging from the soft and sombre (‘Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois’) to the exuberant and celebratory (‘Come on! Feel the Illinoise!: Pt. 1: The World’s Columbian Exposition’). The album tells an expansive story about the people, places and history of the state and listening to the album is like being taken on an exciting road trip. The brilliant ‘Chicago’ has been used on many a soundtrack, but for me the desert island pick from the album is ‘Casimir Pulaski Day’ a song so sad and beautifully played that it made it to number 1 in our Top 10 Tearjerkers chart.

5. Lemonheads – Shame About Ray

Shame About Ray from 1992 is a masterclass in making two to three minute pop songs. Across its tight-as-you-like 12 tracks (bumped to 13 on reissues to include their excellent cover of ‘Mrs Robinson’) each is perfect indie pop. An album you can listen to from start to finish can be rare thing, but an album with 12 (13) potential singles that still retains an alternative edge is worthy of a Top Ten place in anyone’s indie and alternative books. The title track is an undoubted highlight, but each has its own merit, from the hooky ‘Alison’s Starting to Happen’ to the cover of ‘Frank Mills’, from the film and stage play Hair. We’ve been listening to this a lot in preparing for this list and are staggered each time at the energy and consistency of  this fifth album from the band

4. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes

When Gordon Gano, Victor DeLorenzo and Brian Ritchie took their busking trio intro the studio to record their debut album it is unlikely that they could have realised what an iconic record they were producing. Their acoustic blend of Lou Reed, the Modern Lovers and punk crackles with youthful angst and pent up anger over the tens songs here. ‘Blister In The Sun’ must be the most shamelessly ripped off tune in advertising and bursts the album into life, and ‘Add It Up’ stands as an indie disco classic due to the stark dropping of the f-bomb early on in the track. The album has more subtle moments and album closer ‘Good Feeling’ is sad, simple and honest. The band would release more good songs throughout their career but they could never quite match up to a debut as perfect as this one. The 20th anniversary reissue is a lovely package with demos, early singles and a live concert on the second disc.

3. XTC – Drums and Wires

Following the departure of keyboardist Barry Andrews in 1978 XTC opted for guitarist and fellow Swindon resident Dave Gregory to replace him. It turned into the making of the band, transforming XTC from a quirky, tight new wave outfit to a bonafide great English rock and pop act. Drums and Wires from 1979 was the first album to feature Gregory and his 1960s influenced electric guitar style as well as a new bigger drums sound, hence the title. It also gave the band far greater chart prominence through singles such as ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ , while losing none of their creativity.  Tracks such as ‘Complicated Game’ and Roads Girdle the Globe’ are among the most inventive you will hear in this Top 100. Amazing what a band can achieve with some drums and a bunch of wires. For more about XTC read our Top Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives article here.

2. Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs

Stephin Merritt originally conceived this album as being 100 Love Songs before scaling back the idea out of practicality as well as adopting the rather appropriately more salacious number of tracks. Released as triple album, each disc containing 23 songs, it was an incredibly ambitious undertaking. Each track deals with a different aspect of love and relationships and the album covers a wide range of styles from piano ballads to synth-pop to jazz to noise and beyond. Merritt’s wry gay new Yorker personality could overwhelm you over so many tracks and he wisely uses a team of vocalists (two male, two female) to record a selection of the songs. This adds depth to the record but also a more universal feel; relationships are kept unclear so that as a listener you can’t tell if the protagonist is singing to another man or woman. The result is that songs like the sprightly ‘I Need A New Heart’, the downbeat ‘I Don’t Believe In The Sun’ or the vicious ‘Yeah, Oh Yeah’ can speak to anyone.

1.The Clash  – London Calling

Tommy Tomkins excellent book on London Calling sums up the album perfectly as being about ” roots, with a sense of place.” For the band the roots were not just in London, but across the globe, especially through singer Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simenon’s love of Caribbean and US culture. The range of styles on London Calling from punk to rock to blues to reggae showed The Clash to be arguably the most mature and musical act to emerge from the UK punk scene. This double album has gone on to receive widespread critical acclaim and we are delighted to add our voices to that. From the pounding bass line of the title track, heartfelt lyrics of ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ and pop savvyness of ‘Train in Vain’ London Calling still thrills us decades after its 1979 release. Read our full review of London Calling here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers


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Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives – The B-52s

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Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives – The B-52s

Posted on 02 November 2010 by Joe

Here’s the third part in our list of bands that changed our lives. These are more than just our favourite bands, these are bands that altered how we think about music and provided the soundtrack to our lives.

Part 3. The B-52s

I first heard The B-52s as a teenager during the 1980s. The track was a re-release of ‘Rock Lobster’ from their 1977 self titled debut album. The Duane Eddy style guitar, the odd vocals, the even odder lyrics and ability to sound old fashioned and futuristic at the same time left me entranced. It reached 12 in the UK singles charts at the time, with my pocket money helping it on its way.

There were three tracks on the b-side, including the sci-fi instrumental Planet Claire, and that was enough to convince me I’d found my new favourite band.

Cassettes (remember them?) of their albums followed, with  their second album Wild Planet fast becoming one of my all time favourites along the way. This was thanks in part to the breathtaking ballad ‘Give Me Back My Man’, sung by vocalist Cindy Wilson. It was hearing this that I realised that The B-52s were no mere novelty act singing about lobsters.

There’s a comment in a recent Pitchfork book on classic tracks that points out that The B-52s were blessed with three great singers. In the quirky almost camp drawl of Fred Schneider, the perky Southern vocals of Kate Pierson and the blues of Cindy Wilson I can’t argue with this.

‘Give Me Back My Man’ is the perfect example of Wilson’s vocal talent in particular. For me she is up there with the great female vocalists of all time, Joplin, Fitzgerald and more. She bridged the gap between country/blues and new wave and punk. She screamed, she wailed, she sang with the rawest of emotions. This and other Wilson tracks like ‘Dance This Mess Around, are quite simply superb and show off the skills of one new wave’s greatest ever divas.

So why did this band change my life. Well, a few decades on I still listen with awe to tracks such as those mentioned and other favourites like ‘Hero Worship’ and ‘Song For A Future Generation’. Not many bands have that longevity.

The family feel to the band is another factor in their impact on my life. Formed in the mid to late 1970s in Athens, Georgia, by family and friends: Cindy, her brother and guitarist Ricky Wilson, along with Schneider, Pierson and drummer Keith Strickland. This gives them a warmth and genuine sense of being more than just a band.

I’ve also grown with the band through their changes. And although I don’t have much time for their latter studio albums Funplex and Good Stuff, up until the early 1990s I was a firm champion of their latest releases.

Take 1985’s Bouncing off the Satellites. It’s the perfect summer pop album but also one of the saddest collection of tracks. Ricky Wilson, who was the chief song writer and the most naturally gifted musician of the band died during production. The sadness and grief is inescapable when listening to this album. I can’t hear songs such as ‘She Brakes For Rainbows’ without thinking of the band’s grief.

The band took a long break after that but re-merged with their most successful album to date, Cosmic Thing. While for many Cosmic Thing is known for the party track Love Shack, there’s so much more to this album, which was largely written by Strickland, who in switching from drums to guitar emerged surprisingly as among the most pop savvy artists from the new wave/punk era. Tracks such as ‘Junebug’ are among my favourites.

It was shortly after Cosmic Thing was released that I managed to see them live in London. It was good seeing my heroes, but the tour was when Cindy took a break from the band. Instead Julee Cruise filled her shoes and no matter how well she sung there really is only one Cindy Wilson.

Top Ten B-52s Tracks

1.Rock Lobster

2. Dance This Mess Around

3. Hero Worship

4. Private Idaho

5. Give Me Back My Man

6. Mesopotamia

7. Nip It In The Bud

8. Song For A Future Generation

9. Junebug

10. Roam

by Joe Lepper

See Also: Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives Part 1 – XTC, Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives Part 2 – Camper Van Beethoven


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