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Pop - Released June 27, 1989 | 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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 3, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released December 1, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released November 5, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

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

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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 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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 14, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 28, 2008 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released September 23, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released June 1, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

Released in 1998, Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation is the essential B-52's greatest-hits collection. A chronologically assembled highlight reel of the group's first two decades, it contains all of their singles and a number of album favorites, along with two exclusive then-newly written tracks. When they first arrived on the scene in 1979, their kitschy thrift-store image and weirdly spartan sound immediately set them apart from others in the new wave scene to which they were loosely attached. Three guys, two girls, arcane hairdos, no bassist, and a sound that was equal parts spy music and good-time dance party, the B-52's were always fascinatingly loveable outsiders and remained so throughout their years of success. Beginning with "Planet Claire," "52 Girls," and the immortal "Rock Lobster," Time Capsule winds its way through their early and mid-'80s hits like "Quiche Lorraine" and the charming "Song for a Future Generation." As they continued to grow and evolve, their sound expanded, becoming both more nostalgic and more light-hearted, leading into their commercial peak in the early '90s with the excellent "Channel Z," "Roam," and of course "Love Shack." A highlight of this collection is the previously unreleased original mix of "Summer of Love," which feels far more natural than the version which ended up being released on 1986's Bouncing Off the Satellites. The two newly recorded cuts, "Debbie" and "Hallucinating Pluto," are decent enough and will interest collectors, though they can hardly be considered among the band's best material. Still, tacked as they are to the end, they serve as worthy bookends to this excellent 18-track set, which reveals the full career arc of one of rock's most fun and most distinctive acts. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 11, 1979 | Reprise

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

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Pop - Released June 1, 2010 | 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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 25, 2008 | B52'S (B52)

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After hearing the ultra-sheen producer Steve Osborne smoothed across New Order's 2001 album Get Ready, the B-52s' guitarist and music director Keith Strickland found the sound that would bring his band into 21st century. The ultra-slick, synthesizer and drum machine driven Funplex is the result, and while it doesn't make up for the 16 years since their last full-length, it's a good argument that they should get off the revival concert circuit and get back to the studio more often. On the opening "Pump," singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson prove right away they can still create sweet harmonies, while Fred Schneider displays that he's lost none of his campy spark and still sounds credible when barking out stories of hot mamas cruising the mall while high on diet pills. The track's exciting Stereolab-meets-Duane Eddy construction vindicates Strickland's hunch about Osborne, whose half-new wave, half-MP3 age production is a great match throughout. The band's shimmy and shake performance is as energetic as ever and with songs like "Hot Corner," "Juliet of the Spirits," and the title track bringing warm reminders of "Roam," "Summer of Love," or "Good Stuff," the B-52s in 2008 are still adding fine material to their catalog. Bright moments that loyal fans will cherish dot the album, like when Fred delivers a "Robots-Bootybots-Erotobots" chant ("Love in the Year 3000"), or when a simple, quintessential B-52s riff mixes with intoxicating future disco ("Eyes Wide Open"). Problem is the songwriting seems a bit forced at times and the towering highlights found on their top-shelf efforts are missing. Nothing here is as gripping or as perfect as "Rock Lobster," "Private Idaho," or "Love Shack," and the songs that are borderline filler get pushed into one big forgettable lump towards the end of the album. Turns out, being the world's greatest party combo isn't just like riding a bike, but the B-52s are certainly pointed in the right direction. Think of Funplex as a likeable album from a lovable band and adjust your party planner accordingly. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 2015 | Concert Live Ltd

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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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 16, 2008 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released June 1, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

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