...The band's Dansette-style, dance-friendly pop blended perfectly with their retro...
Chris Jones 2007
By 1979 punk had gotten all grown-up. Metamorphosing into the bleaker, more serious genre of new wave, this was the dawn of the age of the long grey coat and European post-industrial chic. Therefore what a relief it was when along came the decidedly technicolour B52’s (complete with the wayward apostrophe, grammar fans). And what an even greater surprise when, on their debut album, the band's Dansette-style, dance-friendly pop blended perfectly with their retro new wave looks to create an all-time carefree classic.
When the core quartet of Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson (joyous Phil Spector-style vocals), Keith Strickland (drums) and Fred Schneider (shouting and mugging) augmented by Cindy’s late brother Ricky on guitars met in 1977 in their home town of Athens, Georgia, they could barely hold a tune. Performing regularly to backing tapes they soon became a key act in the burgeoning scene that was to eventually yield REM amongst many others. By 78 they had adopted the skewed fifties sci-fi image that was defined by the girls’ amazing beehives (which also gave the group their name), and their brand of no-nonsense jerky surf pop had been finally unleashed in the form of a single of “Rock Lobster”.
By the time this number was re-recorded for the album it had become a classic amongst fans. It was joined by a whole slew of ironic post-punk fun. From the opening bleeps of ‘’Planet Claire’’ to the final fade out of Tony Hatch’s ‘’Downtown’’ this was an album that had no interest in ‘cool’, and just wanted to transport you to a world where every day was a day-glo beach party. Even Hatch himself – initially horrified that a ‘punk’ band was covering his classic – gave it his cheesy seal of approval after hearing their version. How cool is THAT?