Cosmic Thing The B-52's

Album Info

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Label: Warner Music Group

Genre: Pop

Subgenre: Pop Rock

Interpret: The B-52's

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  • 1Cosmic Thing03:53
  • 2Dry County04:55
  • 3Deadbeat Club04:48
  • 4Love Shack05:22
  • 5Junebug05:08
  • 6Roam04:55
  • 7Bushfire04:58
  • 8Channel Z04:50
  • 9Topaz04:21
  • 10Follow Your Bliss04:09
  • Total Runtime47:19

Info zu Cosmic Thing

25 years ago today, the first band that put Athens, GA on the map released the album that would go on to become the most successful effort of their entire career.

The B-52’s spent the last part of the ‘70s and the first half of the ‘80s as one of the coolest, goofiest groups around, forging a solid reputation as a fun-time party band through such singles as “Rock Lobster,” “Private Idaho,” and so on down the line, but with the death of founding member Ricky Wilson in 1985, their future was in serious doubt…although – as Kate Pierson told the Onion A.V. Club in 2011, “Nobody ever said, ‘Never again.’” As such, Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, and Cindy Wilson eventually regrouped with a very tentative plan to try writing some new material, not really focusing on anything other than seeing if they could even make it work.

“When we started getting together to write, we realized it was healing – incredibly healing – but it also conjured up the presence of Ricky,” said Pierson, in her A.V. Club interview. “And we started—I don’t want to call it nostalgia, because I don’t think we were maudlin or anything, but we started thinking about early times in Athens, like ‘Deadbeat Club,’ and things just started flowing. Keith, of course, had to take over all the guitar-playing and everything, so he went through a major transition. He’d always played guitar with Ricky and could play a lot of instruments, but to have the whole thing on his shoulders? I think it was a challenge, but one that he rose amazingly to and started just writing this amazing music. And when we jammed, things just started flowing out, because we had all this emotion and stuff that was locked inside, and it became this wonderful healing thing. We never intended to make ‘Love Shack’ this major party song. It just came out that way. Cosmic Thing just kind of came flowing out during the jam. We kind of had to put the pieces together, like a puzzle or a collage, but when we did, it just clicked.”

The clicking was doubtlessly helped along nicely by the band’s decision to utilize top-notch producers like Nile Rodgers and Don Was on the project, each adding their own unique musical sensibilities to the mix. If the end result made Cosmic Thing occasionally feel a tad disjointed critics…well, this is certainly one of those cases where the only thing that counts is what the fans think, and given that the album went quadruple platinum and provided the B-52’s with (their first) three top-40 singles – “Love Shack,” “Roam,” and “Deadbeat Club” – and further success on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart with “(Shake That) Cosmic Thing” and “Channel Z,” they ended up with a heck of a lot of happy fans.

„In the late 80s, after an initial burst of Technicolor freakery around the start of the decade, The B-52s were circling the Where Are They Now? columns, seemingly a wonky remnant of their own past. By the time Cosmic Thing had successfully reinstalled them bigger and better than ever before, the question was answered thusly: 'Probably in Australia, hovering up sales, or scooping up awards ahoy.'

This was the band's first album (their fifth overall) to be recorded after guitarist Ricky Wilson died during the recording of 1986's Bouncing off the Satellites; understandably, with the band in no mood to promote BOTS at the time, Cosmic Thing signaled something a comeback. It also saw a slightly less-lurid and kitschy look adopted - a professional move onwards from the wigs, lobsters and planets named Claire found on their iconic eponymous debut of 10 years earlier. It paid off too, chiming with the positivity and fun times the awaiting 90s had to offer, and becoming their most successful album to date.

Of course, this was mainly due to the success of the single Love Shack, a karaoke staple to this day. It was kept off the number one slot by Beats International and Snap! in the UK, but was one of the biggest singles of the year in their native US and spent eight weeks at the summit in Australia, a place that had taken the band to its heart before anyone else had. The song was based around a road trip they took out to Atlanta. Roam, the other big hit from the album, also did decent business and has been commandeered ever since as a theme for adventure holidays. The album is like a celebration of life and wonder, rather than what could have been an obituary for their earlier selves. This is true even on Deadbeat Club - a song that can be taken either as a slacker anthem or, more factually, a reflective discourse on their earlier days of no money, with ideas bursting out of their hair.

Smoothly produced by Nile Rodgers and Don Was, Cosmic Thing breathed new life into the b(r)and, and pointed the way ahead. We'll draw a discreet veil over the Flintstones theme cover that followed a few years later, and instead hold Cosmic Thing aloft as a fine encapsulation of The B-52s' world.“ (Ian Wade, BBC Review)

Fred Schneider, percussion, vocals, background vocals
Cindy Wilson, vocals
Kate Pierson, keyboards, vocals, backing vocals
Keith Strickland, guitar, keyboards, vocals, backing vocals
Additional musicians:
Leroy Clouden, drums
Charley Drayton, drums
Sonny Emory, drums
Steve Ferrone, drums
Richard Hilton, keyboards
Sara Lee, bass, keyboards, background vocals
Tommy Mandel, keyboards
Nile Rodgers, guitar
Philippe Saisse, keyboards
The Uptown Horns

Recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, West Hurley, NY and Skyline Studios, New York, NY
Engineered by David Cook, Tom Durack
Mixed by Tom Durack, Nile Rodgers
Mastering by Bob Ludwig
Produced by Nile Rodgers, Don Was

Digitally remastered

The B-52's
And thirty five years and over twenty million albums into their career, there can be no doubt as to why they remain one of rock music’s most beloved and enduring bands. Any mystery concerning the band’s longevity and ongoing appeal is immediately solved when exposed to a B-52s concert experience. From groundbreaking songs like “Rock Lobster,” “Dance This Mess Around” and “Private Idaho“ to chart-topping hits like “Love Shack” and “Roam” and “Deadbeat Club” to their thrilling reemergence on the pop scene with their 2008 CD Funplex the B-52s’ unforgettable dance-rock tunes start a party every time their music begins.

Formed on an October night in 1976 following drinks at an Athens, GA, Chinese restaurant, the band played their first gig at a friend’s house on Valentine’s Day 1977. Naming themselves after Southern slang for exaggerated ‘bouffant” hairdos, the newly-christened B-52s (Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson and Ricky Wilson) began weekend road trips to New York City for gigs at CBGB’s and a handful of other venues. Before long, their thrift store aesthetic and genre-defying songs were the talk of the post-punk underground. A record deal soon followed and their self-titled debut disc, produced by Chris Blackwell, sold more than 500,000 copies on the strength of their first singles, the garage rock party classic “Rock Lobster,” and “52 Girls.” The B-52s began to attract fans far beyond the punk clubs of the Lower East Side — galvanizing the pop world with their ‘stream-of-consciousness’ approach to songwriting and outrageous performance. They had clearly tapped into a growing audience for new music that was much larger than anyone could have anticipated. “We always appealed to people outside the mainstream,” says Kate Pierson, “and I think more people feel they’re outside the mainstream these days.”

With the release of their second studio effort, Wild Planet (1980), the B-52s and co-producer Rhett Davies proved their success was no fluke with hits with “Private Idaho,” “Give Me Back My Man” and “Strobe Light.” In just two albums, the B-52s created a lexicon of songs, styles, phrases and images which would set the standard for the development of the ‘alternative music scene’ for the next decade. The success of Mesopotamia, produced by David Byrne (1982), and Whammy! (1983) positioned the B-52s as MTV regulars as well as alternative radio staples.

At the time of their greatest achievements, however, they suffered their greatest tragedy — the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson from AIDS. “He really had a vision…,” said sister Cindy Wilson. “He was one of the strongest elements of the B-52s from the beginning.” Ricky Wilson’s passing in 1985 came just after the sessions for Bouncing Off The Satellites (1986). The album, dedicated to Wilson, had taken nearly three years to complete but was worth the wait, serving up the fan favorites “Summer of Love” and “Wig.”

As a period of mourning, Keith, switching from drums to guitar, gradually resumed writing music for a new album. Working together on vocal melodies, lyrics and arrangements for the new tracks, Keith, Kate, Fred and Cindy re-emerged with the Don Was/Nile Rodgers co-produced Cosmic Thing (1989). The album proved to be the greatest commercial achievement for the group, and its success propelled the band to international superstars.

Cosmic Thing soared to the top of the Billboard Album chart, sold five million copies and yielded their first-ever Hot 10 hits — “Love Shack” and “Roam” and a Top 40 hit with “Deadbeat Club.” The B-52s advanced their reputation as the greatest party band on the planet to a whole new generation of music fans. They played to sold-out audiences worldwide on a tour that would last more than 18 months, including an Earth Day gig before nearly 750,000 people in New York City’s Central Park.

Soon after, Cindy Wilson amicably departed. “I’d been a B-52 for a long time, and it just felt like time for a change,” said Cindy. Before long, Wilson had successfully completed her first solo project — a baby girl. Meanwhile, Kate collaborated with other artists, including Athens compatriots R.E.M., for whom she guest-starred on their 1991 album Out of Time. She also scored a hit with fellow CBGB’s alum Iggy Pop on his lovelorn duet “Candy.” Fred, meanwhile started work on a solo project, Just Fred (1996), with producer Steve Albini, his second solo project since the release of 1984’s Fred Schneider and the Shake Society.

As a trio, Fred, Keith and Kate re-enlisted the tag team of Was and Rodgers to produce the energetic Good Stuff (1992). With it’s popular title cut and concert favorite “Is That You Mo-Dean?,” Good Stuff is more than just a worthy follow-up to Cosmic Thing: the album stands as the group’s most overtly political album. “We’re out there to entertain people,” said Fred, “but it’s great to get people thinking and dancing at the same time.”

Reuniting permanently with Cindy, the B-52s wrote and recorded two new tracks that fit perfectly into Time Capsule, a 1998 stellar collection of hits. The first single from the Best Of collection, “Debbie” is a metaphorical tribute to band friend and supporter Debbie Harry and the whole CBGB’s scene of the late ’70s.

With the release of the two-disc collection Nude on the Moon: the B-52s Anthology (2002), the B-52s took much-deserved credit for a body of work that is unique, beloved and timeless in its own way. The B-52s influence cuts a wide path through much of so-called ‘modern rock’ — from the low-fi efforts of nouveau garage bands to the retro-hip of ultra-lounge, to the very core of dance music itself. “We just did our own thing, which was a combination of rock ‘n ‘roll, funk, and Fellini, and game show host, and corn, and mysticism,” says Fred. It is indeed all these things (and much more).

In 2008 the B-52s released their first new album in 16 years, the aptly titled Funplex. With its primal guitar hooks, driving drums and the B-52s’ unmistakable vocal style, Funplex is instantly recognizable as quintessential and contemporary B-52s. Newsweek Magazine declared, “Like a sonic shot of vitamin B12, the dance floor beats, fuzzy guitar riffs and happy, shiny lyrics keep the energy going.”

On February 18, 2011 the band joyfully celebrated its 34th anniversary with a triumphant return to their hometown of Athens, GA. Wig-wearing, boa-draped, glitter-covered fans came from near and far to celebrate this historic event, which saw the band deliver a sizzling 90 minute set that turned Athens’ Classic Center into a cosmic dancehall. The concert was released on a CD, DVD and Blu-ray entitled The B-52s With The Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA. In a review of the CD, Chuck Howard from Scripps Howard News Service proclaimed, “How The B-52′s have maintained their endearing vitality after all these years is a wonder, yet fans who hear “With the Wild Crowd!” will doubtless wish immortality on this uplifting band.”

In January 2013 Keith Strickland announced that he had made a decision to stop touring with the band. In a statement he said, “I will continue to be in The B-52s – I will just not tour. My barnstorming days have come to an end, but I wholeheartedly support Cindy, Fred and Kate’s decision to continue.”

As they take their party-music revolution into the 21st century the B-52s show no signs of slowing down, serving up their own unique blend of music and showmanship to millions of fans around the world.

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