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Pop - Released June 28, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released July 3, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

Out of nowhere, the B-52's had a genuine hit single -- as in a single that went all the way to number three, not just one that was an underground hit -- with "Love Shack," the irresistible second single from Cosmic Thing that showcased all three lead vocalists to fine effect. Since it was a hit, however, "Love Shack" became the most recycled and reissued B-52's single ever. It was originally released as a single edit, supported by an edit of "Channel Z," on a 7" and cassette single. At that time, it was also released as a 12" single, with adequate but not really interesting remixes of the title track ("12-Inch Remix," "12-Inch Instrumental," "12-Inch Mix," "Big Radio Mix"), plus a "12-Inch Rock Mix" of "Channel Z." The U.K. counterpart contained the single edit and the 12" mix, plus the "Danny Rampling Mix," which was the best remix of the bunch. The CD single that appeared in America contained familiar variations of "Love Shack" -- "12-Inch Remix," an edit of the remix, "12-Inch Mix," "Big Radio Mix" -- plus the new "A Cappella Mix" and the "12-Inch Rock Mix" of "Channel Z." Clearly, this latter single was the best bargain of the bunch, but confused fans -- and if you're not a hardcore collector, you're probably confused by all of this -- will likely just want to stick with Cosmic Thing to hear this great single. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released June 23, 1989 | Warner Records

Many observers were prepared to write off the B-52's after the release of Bouncing Off the Satellites. Granted, the album was completed in the wake of Ricky Wilson's death, but the group appeared bereft of new musical ideas and were sounding rather stale. In other words, the last thing anyone expected was a first-class return to form, which is what they got with Cosmic Thing. Working with producers Don Was and Nile Rodgers, the B-52's updated their sound with shiny new surfaces and deep, funky grooves -- it was the same basic pattern as before, only refurbished and contemporized. Just as importantly, they had their best set of songs since at least Wild Planet, possibly since their debut. "Cosmic Thing" and "Channel Z" were great up-tempo rockers; "Roam" had a groovy beat blessed with a great Cindy Wilson vocal; and "Deadbeat Club" was one of their rare successful reflective numbers. Then there was "Love Shack," an irresistible dance number with delightfully silly lyrics and hooks as big as a whale that unbelievably gave the group a long-awaited Top Ten hit. The thing is, Cosmic Thing would already have been considered a triumphant return without its commercial success. The big sales were just the icing on the cake. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released December 1, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Many observers were prepared to write off the B-52's after the release of Bouncing Off the Satellites. Granted, the album was completed in the wake of Ricky Wilson's death, but the group appeared bereft of new musical ideas and were sounding rather stale. In other words, the last thing anyone expected was a first-class return to form, which is what they got with Cosmic Thing. Working with producers Don Was and Nile Rodgers, the B-52's updated their sound with shiny new surfaces and deep, funky grooves -- it was the same basic pattern as before, only refurbished and contemporized. Just as importantly, they had their best set of songs since at least Wild Planet, possibly since their debut. "Cosmic Thing" and "Channel Z" were great up-tempo rockers; "Roam" had a groovy beat blessed with a great Cindy Wilson vocal; and "Deadbeat Club" was one of their rare successful reflective numbers. Then there was "Love Shack," an irresistible dance number with delightfully silly lyrics and hooks as big as a whale that unbelievably gave the group a long-awaited Top Ten hit. The thing is, Cosmic Thing would already have been considered a triumphant return without its commercial success. The big sales were just the icing on the cake. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 5, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Even in the weird, quirky world of new wave and post-punk in the late '70s, the B-52's' eponymous debut stood out as an original. Unabashed kitsch mavens at a time when their peers were either vulgar or stylish, the Athens quintet celebrated all the silliest aspects of pre-Beatles pop culture -- bad hairdos, sci-fi nightmares, dance crazes, pastels, and anything else that sprung into their minds -- to a skewed fusion of pop, surf, avant-garde, amateurish punk, and white funk. On paper, it sounds like a cerebral exercise, but it played like a party. The jerky, angular funk was irresistibly danceable, winning over listeners dubious of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson's high-pitched, shrill close harmonies and Fred Schneider's campy, flamboyant vocalizing, pitched halfway between singing and speaking. It's all great fun, but it wouldn't have resonated throughout the years if the group hadn't written such incredibly infectious, memorable tunes as "Planet Claire," "Dance This Mess Around," and, of course, their signature tune, "Rock Lobster." These songs illustrated that the B-52's' adoration of camp culture wasn't simply affectation -- it was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture. It's difficult to imagine the endless kitschy retro fads of the '80s and '90s without the B-52's pointing the way, but The B-52's isn't simply an historic artifact -- it's a hell of a good time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop - Released June 1, 2015 | Concert Live Ltd

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Pop - Released August 25, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released April 21, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released May 20, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released June 19, 1992 | Reprise

"Good Stuff" was a transparent attempt to recapture the good vibes of "Love Shack." It didn't succeed, but it had its own charms, from the friendly beat to Fred Schneider's endearing vocal affectations. It wasn't great, but it did have the distinction of being the best single pulled from Good Stuff. Since it was released in 1992, when singles were released in seemingly endless permutations in both the U.S. and the U.K., "Good Stuff" was available in all sorts of incarnations. In the U.S., it was released as a seven-inch single, with an edit of the title track taking up the A-side and the B given over to "Bad Influence." This same lineup was released as a seven-inch and cassette single in the U.K. In the U.S., it was also released as a 12-inch and CD-5 single featuring "Bad Influence" and three versions of "Good Stuff" -- the "12-inch remix," the "remix edit" and the "Schottische Mix." Minus "Bad Influence," this lineup was replicated for the U.K. 12-inch single, but the same lineup -- plus the original version of "Good Stuff" -- was released as a single in Europe. But that wasn't the end of it by any means. Not counting the American promotional single (a worthless issue for anyone but DJs, containing just the edit and original version of "Good Stuff"), "Good Stuff" was also released in a box set (!) in the U.K., featuring the edited single version of the title track, "Bad Influence" and "Return to Dreamland," plus three badges, a sticker and a postcard. Certainly the kind of item just for collectors. When all is said and done, the American CD-5 single and 12-inch offers the best value for the money, but the mixes aren't particularly noteworthy, so only budget-minded serious fans will need to seek it out. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released June 1, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released July 11, 1979 | Reprise

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Pop - Released July 12, 2016 | Rhino - Warner Records

The B-52's were one of the great new wave bands, one of the ones who defined the style and cut one of the great records of their time (their eponymous debut), an outfit who maintained a dedicated following even as they fell off the radar of critics and hipsters, a group who overcame a tragic loss (guitarist Ricky Wilson) to make a startling, unpredictable comeback that launched them beyond college radio and to the top of the pop charts. It's a hell of a story, even if the final act was decidedly anticlimatic (after one follow-up to the Cosmic Thing comeback, 1992's Good Stuff, the group essentially disappeared apart from an embarrassing version of the Flintstones theme for the 1993 big-screen adaptation), and they're easily one of the more legendary bands of their time. Unfortunately, legend doesn't always translate to great music, and the fact of the matter is that the B-52's really only had two very good records: the transcendent debut and the comeback. The second record had its share of moments, more than the other albums that followed, and there were some sublime cuts scattered among the other records, but by and large they were a band who got by on their brilliant moments -- brilliant moments that were surrounded by competence and mediocrity. It really was the kind of career that could be salvaged and justified by a tremendous double-disc retrospective -- which Nude on the Moon: The B-52's Anthology unfortunately isn't. Make no mistake, it's pretty good and it has a lot of their greatest moments, but it stumbles at certain points, letting seminal songs like "Quiche Lorraine" or "Mesopotamia" be represented by alternate takes (1990 live take and remix, respectively), and padding it toward the end with album tracks that aren't that interesting. That's the worst thing about this lavish, lovingly produced set; no matter the care of the sound and presentation, there are just too many songs that are just average, not quite illustrating why the B-52's are so beloved. Of course, that's the fault of the band themselves, who never quite lived up to their early promise, but it would still be possible to jigger the final recordings to an artificial narrative, the kind that would show why people love this band. This isn't it; no matter the testimonials, the interviews in the comprehensive booklet, the great photos, or just the general warm vibe this Georgian band -- perhaps the greatest Georgian musical act this side of Jerry Reed or R.E.M. -- gives off. And that's because the material just isn't there. No matter their legacy, they have enough terrific material for a comprehensive single-disc set, not a double-disc set, and while this is more comprehensive and better-produced than the single-disc compilations, most listeners will find they'll skip over most of the material just to get to the good stuff from The B-52's and Cosmic Thing. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released October 14, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 21, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 11, 2011 | Eagle Rock - Eagle Records

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Pop - Released October 13, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

"Roam" became the B-52's' second straight number three single, and for good reason -- while it may not be as unabashedly silly and infectious as "Love Shack," it is a well-crafted and irresistible pop song, highlighted by terrific vocals from Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson. As was the tradition of any major-label single from the late '80s, "Roam" was issued in a variety of formats. The basic format was the 7" and cassette single, which featured an edit of the title track and the Cosmic Thing album track "Bushfire" as the flipside. For the American CD-5 single, "Bushfire" was kept as the B-side, and the following versions of "Roam" were showcased: the "7" remix" (different and longer than the single edit), the "radio mix," the "12" remix," the "extended remix," and "the instrumental." All but the "extended remix" and "instrumental" were on the American 12" single. In the U.K., "Roam" was issued as a 7" single, cassette single, and CD single featuring the edit of "Roam" and live versions of "Whammy Kiss" and "Dance This Mess Around" from 1989; this version was also released as a CD single in France. It was also released as a 12" single (with a nifty 3-D sleeve) featuring the "radio mix," the "12" remix," and "extended remix." And, maybe just to confuse things a little bit more, the single was released one more time as a CD promo single in the U.S., featuring the original LP version and the single edit. All these permutations are naturally of considerable interest to hardcore collectors, but those less dedicated should know this: the U.S. CD single offers the most music for the money, but the U.K. CD single is actually a more entertaining listen. Then again, they could just choose to stick with "Roam" either on Cosmic Thing or one of the hits collections. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released July 12, 2016 | Warner Records

Conventional wisdom has it that all the B-52's' subsequent releases are highly inferior to their debut. While Wild Planet is not the rarefied wonder their first platter is, it's still darn good. The songs here are generally faster, tighter, and punchier than previously, though production values are not as wonderfully quirky and detailed; fewer songs here are as over-the-top crazy as the first album's "Rock Lobster" or "52 Girls." These formless selections continue to exhibit a cunning mix of girl group, garage band, surf, and television theme song influences, all propelled along by an itchy dance beat. "Give Me Back My Man" allows Cindy Wilson a unique opportunity to croon a broad, expressive melodic line. Fred Schneider parades his inimitably nervous vocals on chucklesome ditties like "Quiche Lorraine" and "Strobe Light." The best songs here are "Private Idaho," a wonderfully jittery number that employs a variant on the famous melodic snippet from the Twilight Zone theme music, and "Devil in My Car," a delightfully loopy hoot that lays the craziness on very thickly. Performances and sound quality are fine. This album is well worth hearing and recommended. ~ David Cleary
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Pop - Released December 16, 2008 | Warner Records

In 1981, The B-52's issued a six-track EP containing remixes of some of the most popular songs from their first two albums. In 1982, they released a new six-track EP produced by Talking Heads' David Byrne called Mesopotamia. Neither of them was essential, but both had their virtues, and they were put together on one CD after the group's big commercial breakthrough with Cosmic Thing. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released September 15, 1986 | Reprise