Monday, April 14, 2008

B-52s and pie, making America great

There are two things in this world that can put a smile on my face no matter what. The first, which I’ve mentioned frequently and in sometimes graphic detail, is pie. The second is The B-52s. The B-52s have an irrationally curative power over me. For example, if I were ever lost in the wilderness and forced to chew my own leg off, I’m pretty sure that would depress me. On the other hand, if The B-52s were playing in the ambulance after I was rescued and on my way to the hospital, I’m equally sure I’d be smiling, tapping my toes (what was left of them) and designing the Bedazzle pattern for my new peg leg.

This past weekend, I got the new B-52s album, “Funplex,” and it reminded me all over again why I love this band. For one thing, they’re great just in theory. Consider this – the B-52s are what would happen if Shirley McClaine, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, John Waters, Yoko Ono, The Sex Pistols and Paul Lynne all got together and spawned. Someone needs to write their dissertation on that bizarre amalgam, stat.

The B-52s are also ridiculously fun. What other band could write great songs about lobsters, little dogs named Quiche Lorraine and aliens – all with a great beat that’s easy to dance to, even for curmudgeons like me who can’t dance. (Or won’t dance, really.)

“Funplex” incorporates the best of what makes The B-52s great. If you’re not like me and you do enjoy dancing, this is a can’t miss party album. And if you just like hearing weird lyrics, well, they’ve got you covered here, too. And if you just want a bunch of 50-somethings telling you it’s okay to be irresponsible sometimes and just have fun, well than they’ve really got you covered here. In fact, the overriding message of “Funplex” seems to boil down to two things: dancing and making out. I will admit that the latter thing was creeping me out just a wee bit, the same way I think a person would be creeped out hearing their grandparents talk about some great key party they went to back in ’47. On the one hand, you’d think, “Wow, I had no idea my grandparents were so hip back in the day.” On the other hand, as you’re dialing your therapist, you’d think, “Sweet Jesus, my grandparents went to a key party.” That’s kind of what it’s like listening to some of the lyrics on “Funplex.”

Overall, though, the album is terrific fun. Kate, Cindy, Fred and Keith still have the stuff – as weird, crazy, glittery and energetically mood-enhancing as it’s always been.


Shan said...

Good choice, Liz. I went to school in Athens during the heydey of the B-52s and REM, and saw them live in venues big and small more times than I can count. Earlier this month, I downloaded new albums from both bands, and they are each sensational. Funplex and Accelerate are a return to form and embody everything you've loved about the bands (or a great place to start, if they're new to you).

You simply can't listen to Funplex and be in a bad mood. Great stuff.

Liz said...

That's so cool about seeing B-52s and REM in the flesh during the Athens days. You should write about that sometime! And you're absolutely right about Funplex making it impossible to be in a bad mood. My husband grumbled when I made him go to a concert of theirs a few years ago and lo and behold, within 20 minutes, he was smiling and having a great time. Fred and the gals can do that to people!

dr.gambit said...

what's a key party?

also, there is a 6min spot from npr here:

and two song clips on the site too...

Liz said...

A key party was a big thing in the 1970s -- according to my in-depth research done by watching That 70s Show and The Ice Storm -- where couples would go to parties, throw their car keys in a bowl and then at the end of the party, people would go home with whoever's key they pulled from the bowl.

Thanks for the NPR links!

Kathe said...

I was able to stream this album on AOL Music a couple weeks ago. LOVED IT. I'm so happy they are back and making music again.

Shan - I can't wait to buy Accelerate. I heard their interview on NPR last week and am craving new REM!

Anonymous said...

"And if you just want a bunch of 50-somethings telling you it’s okay to be irresponsible sometimes and just have fun, well than they’ve really got you covered here..."

Hey, there's no time limit on wanting to have fun and make out! I hope I'm that wild when I'm 50 too - hell, I want to be like that when I'm 80.

Liz said...

Queencallipygos, I agree wholeheartedly. All my favorite bands are middle aged now and I think it's great that they're still partying and having fun. I'm regressing anyway as I get older, so I figure I'll be at my fun peak around 70. :)

Shan said...


I can't tell you how good and entertaining "Accelerate" is. Full of uptempo, driving songs, none over 3 minutes or so, and the whole album is a quick, clean listen at just over 30 minutes. Almost all the songs are fantastic, and I'm growing particularly fond of the first single, "Supernatural Superserious" and the first album cut, "Living Well is the Best Revenge" is an instant classic. (One warning: if you're all about the slow, moody, atmospheric and contemplative REM, this might not be the album for you. While the topics and lyrics give you a lot to think about, the tone and beat is definitely beer funnel/band party-ish).

Having well done new REM and B's is a double whammy of aural goodness.