I like a challenge in life. I like to push my comfort zone a little further everyday and I never stand defeated. But when we were asked to get involved with National Album Day 2019 and write about one album we don’t skip and enjoy from start to finish, I started getting cold sweats. Panic, horror… I sit here, with an empty page, and this is scarier than anything Stephen King could have imagined. Which album was I going to pick?
I could have taken the easy way out. Blood Sugar Sex Magik plays a very important part in my life. I was always obsessed by the early Red Hot Chili Peppers. Or I could have picked Mother’s Milk. But I also love The Clash, and London Calling is the second most important soundtrack of my life. Or anything by The Hives, The Rolling Stones, The Cramps, New Bomb Turks,… Then, it came, as an epiphany! I could pick an album I thoroughly enjoy and that I think is painfully underrated by the masses. So, on this National Album Day, let’s take a trip to Athens. Not the one in Greece. We’re going to Georgia. Turn on the lava lights, it’s about to get groovy.
One album I’ve always loved from start to finish is the first album of The B52s, titled “B52’s”. When I discovered the band as a teenager in 2005 or 2006, I thought they were the quintessential of cool. Whether it was the beehives, their unique sound or the beautiful harmonies of Kate and Cindy, I was struck. It’s up there in my top 5 favourite albums of all time.
B52’s came out in 1978. The bizarre Planet Claire, with its outer-dimensional vibe and the “Peter Gunn” styling, is the opening track and definitely builds up the tension. Punk influences show in 52 Girls and Dance This Mess Around. Rock Lobster is a world of its own, written by guitarist Ricky Wilson who turned up at band practice saying “I’ve just written the stupidest guitar line you’ve ever heard”. Little did he know, this was going to become one of the best songs of the century.
The rest of the album is interesting. While the band keeps their post-punk influences obvious, Lava has a psychedelic vibe, while Hero Worship is considered to be one of the first Riot Grrrl songs ever written. 6060-842 is an energetic track, perfect for parties and easy to sing along to.
Downtown closes the album. It is a cover the 1964 anthem by Petula Clark that they managed to turn around and make their own. This album came out 41 years ago, and since then, nothing as weird and peculiar has come out. This is a perfect party album, but it’s also worth to stop and give it a proper listen just to catch every little element that built the special sound of a very special band.
Don’t (ever) Skip B52’s
the B52’s by The B52s, 1978, is chosen by rock music photographer Pauline Di Silvestro