Won't Get Fooled Again

A few weeks ago I received a copy of the new B-52s album, Funplex. A band I've been fond of for many years, I was weary of trying to stretch my love too thin, or to have a late career misstep affect my adoration for nearly all of their early and mid period work. The cover offered little solace; the four remaining members looked almost embalmed, and oddly younger than they did in the late 70's. A friend had mentioned hearing the first single, the title track, on the radio. Reports were that it was great, true to form and catchy. I had yet to hear a single note of the album.

What drew me to the B-52s in the first place was Ricky Wilson, who crafted the early songs (along with drummer Keith Strickland) and whose guitar playing is sorely under appreciated. Part Ventures, part post-Punk angularity, almost like sped up Chuck Berry, I don't know if Wilson ever played a wrong or frivolous note.

There are few bands who have no clear predecessor; and though they may be influential, no one is quite capable of succeeding them either. Even if one were attempting to, it would be difficult to emulate the B-52s. Fred Schneider, for instance, is inimitable. His voice cuts through the music, sometimes adding to, but also, on occasion, destroying the melody—like a commentator or even an interloper. The dynamic between his vocals, and those of Cindy Wilson's and Kate Pierson's keep the music in a perpetual struggle of harmony and discord. Though the songs have a pop sensibility and plenty of celebratory explosions, there is also an element of suspense. Whether it is a beautiful melody on the verge of imploding or a taut guitar line giving way to fluidity, it is tension that sets the B-52s apart.

Watch the B-52s lip syncing "My Own Private Idaho."

So, I really wanted to embrace the latest effort by the B-52s; they were not merely rehashing the past but instead writing their first new material in sixteen years. Luckily, it was not difficult to enjoy Funplex. The opening riff of "Pump" was written by Strickland—who moved from drums to guitar after Ricky Wilson passed away—and it is a clear homage not only to where the B-52s have been but to Wilson himself. The riff is then engulfed by the rest of the band, by vocals, drums, and that tireless energy and hopefulness that seems to magically propel all of their songs. The voices of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson sound amazing, sometimes interchangeable, sometimes the twang and ache of Wilson more pronounced. The album's production is fresh but not slick, the grittiness not lost, the chemistry still palpable and alive.

Check out the video for the first single from Funplex.

In what often feels like a constant search for something new to love—from gadgets to trends to music—it is always nice for something you already love to surprise you; for it to feel, and to sound, both new and old at the same time.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the B-52s, REM, or any band who are still making records long after you thought they would have ceased to do so. Should they stop while they are ahead? Or have you been pleasantly surprised or able to view the new material with fresh ears?

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I've been reading all the reviews of this with interest and glad to see you raising your voice in support. My brother in law was only just recently saying how underrated Ricky Wilson was as a guitarist.

If only all pop music was this joyous, exuberant, quirky and downright homosexual the world would be a much happier place. I'll certainly be checking out the new record.

Sent by Julia | 2:18 PM | 4-1-2008

I was actually wondering if you were going to write about this album when I was listening to it this weekend. I think it's really good - fun, weird, spazzy and kind of classic B-52's. I adore the riff on "Pump" for the same reasons as you - it's so reminiscent of Ricky Wilson's style and it just makes the song perfect.

Sent by chriso | 3:00 PM | 4-1-2008

I'm a B-52's fan from way back so I've been hesitant about Funplex. There are so many bands who don't know "when to say when"... but I think I'll check it out!

Sent by Tina | 3:28 PM | 4-1-2008

Carrie, along the lines of things you have always loved surprising you, have you heard the new REM release? The one that's being called their "return to rock?" Whatever that means? I have no idea if you like REM (half the time, I'm not sure that I do), but I can imagine that for their long-standing fans, today is a good day.

Sent by Georgia | 3:28 PM | 4-1-2008

I have spent a lot of time on a hokey "theory" that the trajectory of rock star careers is more like those of athletes than of artists, i.e. it is extremely rare for a rocker to maintain the highest levels after they're in their mid-30s or so.

The best rockers, though, can once in awhile crank it up again. Dylan may have made a lot of bad albums between the late-70s and mid-90s, but he wasn't done making good ones yet, either.

I'm going to see Bruce Springsteen Friday and Saturday ... seen him 30+ times since 1975. His shows are still inspiring. But his last great album was in 1987.

Sent by Steven | 4:12 PM | 4-1-2008

Thanks for the clip, Carrie! That is one of the best I've ever seen - Fred and that moustache! Classic.

Sent by Rachel | 5:14 PM | 4-1-2008

I love the B-52's! I'll have to pick up this album. I saw them a few years ago at a carnival in Ventura and they could still hit all of the high notes live. Fun show.

As far as bands that should know when to say when: Bad Religion? I love their early stuff and it's cool that they still tour, but I can't really listen to any of the more recent material

Sent by jenn prince | 5:26 PM | 4-1-2008

new B-52's single sounds pretty cool. I'll check out the album. I am sad, however, to see that Cindy and Kate have opted to go without their signature beehives. Oh well....

umm as for old bands making new records, I Joan Jetts still going pretty strong. I really enjoyed her last album "Sinner". I think it was her best in awhile. and I recently saw Carole Pope perform, formally of Rough Trade, a Canadian band who's biggest hit was "High School Confidential." I dont know if you know who she is but she put on a great performance last week and her new material is quite good.
Also, i know a lot of people probably wont agree with this one, but i think that Sonic Youth might wanna think about not releasing anymore new material and just concentrate on playing live shows. Cuz they were wicked wheni saw them a couple years ago but all their new stuff just seems to sound the same....

Sent by Marie | 6:39 PM | 4-1-2008

I love me some old B-52s, but that Funplex clip didn't sound so great to me. Seems like the "satire" is heavy-handed and dated (shopping malls?). That said, as a thirtysomething musician, I say they should keep going as long as they have fun making music together. But if this song is representative of the bulk of the rest of the album, I probably won't buy it. And that shouldn't matter (I know it sort of does, but it shouldn't, you know?).

The jury's out on the new REM for me. Whenever I hear "REM's return to rock" I think of Monster, which was pretty meh, and the last album of theirs I bought. I might investigate the new one, because like so many others, I still love their 80s albums. They were a fantastic band at one point, so there's always hope they can get a little bit of that back.

Sometimes the "comebacks" work, though. In the last five years, Mission of Burma made two albums that are nearly on par with their Ace of Hearts releases, and they certainly blow away 99% of the newer "indie" releases these days.

The Pixies did OK, but I was hoping that more than one new song would come out of it. But in their case, most of them have their own things going on and maybe it was a wise choice not to try and top their former glory. The bar would be set really high.

Sent by Joel | 6:58 PM | 4-1-2008

Kate Pierson is one of my all time favorite female vocalists. Check out her duet with Iggy Pop on "Candy". Ricky's clean spanky guitar sound represents a particular tone that I find to be the the most alluring aspect of the electric guitar's vocal variety. Jay

Sent by Jay Pack | 6:59 PM | 4-1-2008

Weirdly, just the other day I was singin' the praises of The B-52s to a friend (specifically, Dance This Mess Around and 52 Girls), not even knowing that a new album was out.
I agree - based on this single, they've still got it. The unmistakable vocal stylings of Fred coupled with the spunk and (curious) agelessness of Kate and Cindy give me sweet comfort. Thanks for the clip - gonna check out the rest of it, fo sho.

Sent by Joanna M | 7:07 PM | 4-1-2008

I can't bear to listen. I'm afraid I'll re-live the disappointment of Mesapotamia" and everything after. But man, those first two records... Where did those COME from? They invented a completely new sound, though it's hard to hear that in retrospect.

What was the question again? Oh, yeah, long-lived bands that don't suck completely. The only one I can think of is Patti Smith Group, live, despite some corny overproduced records since her "comeback."

Sent by Andrea | 7:30 PM | 4-1-2008

I love the B-52's new album! I got the new REM today and I think it sounds a lot like their older stuff. I hate how artists/bands are criticized for trying something new...isn't that what music and art is supposed to be about? If art is an expression of self, then how can we expect it to never change? I can see how a major label might get pissy about a band straying too far from a marketable sound, but I hate how fans can turn on a band they love because of this. I think once bands acquire a little bit of fame, they get labeled and are expected to stay in a box, which limits their creativity. Some artists that I really admire for progressing creatively, even though it may have cost them (or gained them) some fans: Miles Davis, Radiohead, Liz Phair, Joni Mitchell (I'd crawl inside every record of hers if I could...genius.) Ummm...who else? Oh yeah... Sugar Ray... they went from crappy punk/metal to crappy Top 40.

Sent by Amy | 7:55 PM | 4-1-2008

Check out Ru Paul at the end of the video! I heard this at a book store yesterday. At first it was just background noise, and then I noticed I was listening to a new album. I grabbed a seat and listened to the whole thing, not bad.

Sent by bloodyserb | 8:02 PM | 4-1-2008

I figure a band or musician should keep doing it as long as they've got something -- "new" is the wrong word; how about "interesting" -- to say. I'll either be into their latest thing, or I won't, but I certainly won't begrudge the effort, as long as they care. (The problem, of course, is when they don't -- see the Rolling Stones since pick-your-date.)

Besides, what's excellent in music doesn't lose its excellence for being "old": I've always loved that part of "Rock Lobster" when the guitar kicks into overdrive, at about 5'20" in this clip from 1978. It would have been great to be in the crowd in that small venue!
http://youtube.com/watch?v=DnU3WoQZHJE

Sent by Ralph | 8:15 PM | 4-1-2008

Oh Carrie, it makes me so happy to hear how much you appreciate what the B-52's have done for the music world. I am 31 years of age & have loved this band since I was a wee child. Whenever I mention my love for the B-52's to co-workers or friends they usually respond with some strange look at me, like I should be embarrassed or something. I try to explain how important their early work was and they their next response is how much they hate Rock Lobster.

The B-52's recently came through town (Salt Lake) and played a sold out show at a small venue, it was my sixth time seeing them. I remember the new songs going over very well, it didn't phase me & the crowd seemed pleased as well.

I gotta say they're still fantastic!

Sent by Courtney | 8:24 PM | 4-1-2008

Excellent review. Now I really have to try out the new album. It also got me looking for more videos.

This one is a gem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VN8hV4AyNss

Sent by sandman | 9:14 PM | 4-1-2008

FUNPLEX bowls me over. I can't stop smiling when I hear this album. The B-52s (now apostrophe-free) continue to evolve... no other band can have you laughing hysterically while still rocking and being wistful all at once. I think your description of the Fred/Kate/Cindy dynamic is the most spot-on I've heard. We can't wait another 16 years for these true originals!

Sent by Steve | 9:48 PM | 4-1-2008

Dinosaur JR put out a record last year that was really good. I stop and love whenever it pops up on album shuffle.

Sent by Nick L. | 10:18 PM | 4-1-2008

~god, I really hate it

Sent by Warren Evans | 10:33 PM | 4-1-2008

We here at B-52 Central do not appreciate all of these obvious "April Fool's Day" comments. "Funplex" is a release the band is quite fond of and worked hard to produce. The mocking tone of all these posts... quite frankly... hurts.

Sent by The B-52's | 11:03 PM | 4-1-2008

If "Chinese Democracy" ever comes out I'm buying three copies.

We need you, Axl!

Sent by liam | 11:05 PM | 4-1-2008

Wow. I don't think anyone has ever quite captured the appeal of the B-52s so accurately. I'm a life-long fan, but haven't checked out the new album yet. I think I was a little afraid. Like watching my aunt try to ride the mechanical bull.

Sent by Elizabeth | 12:50 AM | 4-2-2008

i was big into them when i was 6. i think i listened to love shack about 10 times on repeat whilst i was driven to the pool that summer. that and roxette. yikes. didn't even know they had another guitarist who passed away.

i totally agree with you about fred. sometimes the song would be better without him.

Sent by Lauren | 2:14 AM | 4-2-2008

my friends make fun of my B-52s love, but i am a lot cooler than my friends :P

and i love the new B-52s album! good review :)

Sent by killabot | 2:53 AM | 4-2-2008

I liked the last Meat Puppets, but i'm surprised there's not much talk about it, and that's sad. I know it was not promoted, but still. I would be curious to know what you think about it. About REM, well, I gave up on them some time ago, I don't believe in them as a band anymore.

Sent by Corcoran | 6:31 AM | 4-2-2008

A b52's album means they're touring so it's just worth it.
I do share some taste with you(I was 14 when cosmic thing was released) but I still have to discover the replacements.
REM's accelerate seems pretty exciting for the spring and summer to come .

Sent by julien | 8:03 AM | 4-2-2008

I really liked R.E.M.'s monster, and I consider myself a pretty big R.E.M. fan over all. Loving everything between Murmur and Monster (never listened to anything after the guitarist left.) But I guess I'd be willing to give the band a chance today.

Pat Benatar will always be my love and can't do wrong, even releasing GO! (never heard) and some not so awesome albums before that (heard a few too many times. What was that one with Strawberry Wine? I remember getting so bored during that album)

But considering most of my favourite bands aren't even together anymore with the exception of about five: Bjork (who released a 5 outta 5 album last year) Tegan and Sara (another 5 out of 5 album last year) White Stripes (ditto) and Cat Power, Sonic Youth, YYY, and Dylan (besides the aforementioned rem and Benatar)
- I don't usually get too many chances for surprises. plus, more times then not they end up not so great. :/

I wanna hear the new Dino Jr. album.

Sent by Kevin McCallister | 8:24 AM | 4-2-2008

It becomes more odd with age, no? Ten years ago, I was pretty disappointed by Pavement's Terror Twilight & felt only marginally redeemed by Mr. Malkmus's solo work. I occasionally checked in with the man, but had moved on to keeping up with current trends. In the last year or so, as I approach 40, I'm finding myself really appreciating certain things I thought I was done with. Now, although I can hear flaws, and silliness, I'm going to listen to the new Jicks much more than, say, Los Campesinos. I'm still branching out, and probably always will. I just feel like I have a renewed interest in loyalty & can totally appreciate and love artists who are still busting their butt creating. I'm happier now, not shrugging my shoulders at an established artist's efforts. It feels more attached to life as a whole. Is that too New Age-y? Shit.

Sent by Jill L. | 8:28 AM | 4-2-2008

It's great to hear Ricky Wilson get some props!
When I listened to the B-52's as a kid---Ricky
Wilson's guitar was the first guitar sound that
I LOVED. I still think the solo on "Rock Lobster"
is one of the most beautiful ever :)

Sent by melissa baker | 9:39 AM | 4-2-2008

For having been making music longer than I've been alive, I'm continually impressed and amazed by the solo and otherwise work of Kristin Hersh and Mark Lanegan, who seem to just get better and better...

I would also have loved to see what Joe Strummer would have continued to do with the Mescaleros, but that's all over now...

Sent by beth | 10:08 AM | 4-2-2008

I am the apostrophe devil. While the band does use an apostrophe (B-52's), I dislike that usage and have always preferred B-52s. So, Carrie, I like your apostrophe choice in this post, but is it incorrect if the band uses an apostrophe? Oh, the headaches.

A very small boost for related event - the B-52's will be playing in the Boston area in May in support of a bicycle ride / fundraiser for Best Buddies. If it's a nice day, a ride and a show would be very pleasant.

I believe the band has actually dropped the apostrophe, which is why I did. -CB

Sent by Zoe | 10:11 AM | 4-2-2008

I agree with you about Ricky Wilson's playing-just listen to "52 Girls" for one example.

Your description of the B52s style, especially that of the sometimes interchangeable vocals reminds me of some elements of another (regrettably hiatus-ed) band I absolutely love.

Side note: My gf in college was (is?) Chinese-American (really more American-Chinese.) In Oklahoma, rednecks would ask her from time to time "where are you from" (as an ignorant form of greeting.) She would always smile, and say: "Planet Claire!"

Sent by bud | 12:59 PM | 4-2-2008

As an old fart myself, I think the last few years have been a prime time for excellent "comebacks" from some veteran bands. In addition to Dyaln and Mission of Burma, I'd argue that the recent albums from Wire, Radio Birdman, and Social Distortion are as good as anything they've done -- keeping their essence, but adding some interesting new accents and and perspectives. Also, while they've lost any "buzz" or hope at airplay as they've aged, I think Eleventh Dream Day and Sinead O'Connor have been consistently excellent and compelling for two decades. And while their records remain inconsistent but filled with bright spots, thirty years on the Mekons are still a truly great live band.

Sent by Tom | 1:17 PM | 4-2-2008

I've managed to get hold of the Funplex album prior to its release and I love it. I've been a fan of theirs for years and was somewhat apprehensive when I heard they were releasing a record after 16 years, especially after Good Stuff fell a little flat (Cindy's absence was sorely noted).

My apprehensions have been unfounded and Funplex has that classic B52's formula from the early days plus all the best bits from Cosmic thing and Good stuff that gives it a contemporary feel. Having Cindy back on vocals provides a rawness that was missing on the previous album.

I recommend this album to anybody who wants to listen to something a bit different from the current load of formulaic tripe that's swamping the music industry. Just listening to the B52's can make the most rubbish day seem great.

Sent by Tina Anobile | 1:43 PM | 4-2-2008

Glad to see Kevin M. also thought of Sonic Youth re: F-plex

Well, not Youth directly so much as Young@Heart's eerie octogenarian rendition--Fred on a Segway?-- of Schitzophrenia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBeFL3qI-n8

A recent pic's summed up well, if ungenerously, by the word 'embalmed' http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2008/03/funplexed.html (Love me my morning JMG, biweekly Carrie)

Sent by saucy | 1:53 PM | 4-2-2008

Seems like Einar of the Sugarcubes went for the same dynamic of destroying the pretty, the Fred-tension you mention.

Sent by sweet | 2:10 PM | 4-2-2008

This entry pushes me a little further to try the album out. Not sure why I'm resisting, maybe it's because the video reminds me of that New Radicals video.

David Byrne has stayed fresh. Peter Gabriel is still solid unlike his replacement. Tears for Fears' release a few years ago was a nice surprise.

Weezer should stop.Pearl Jam is getting close. The prog rock giants REALLY need to stop (you hear me Geddy?). Bob Mould had a killer second wind with Sugar but I'm not sure about his new album.

When I travel for work I like to play "Rock Lobster" on bar jukeboxes and watch people's reactions. Sometimes I'll play it twice in a row but that can get dangerous...try it.

Sent by Brian | 2:16 PM | 4-2-2008

I can't say that I've loved Tom Waits as far back as his 70s/80s work (but, my Dad can). I can't imagine what it would have been like to have been there for every component of his career arc, since back then. And, I've only had my own emotional attachment to his songs for maybe 17 years. But this last set he put out (the Orphans box set) was staggering. But, that isn't really fair, since his "late period" has been chock full of winners.

I always give Alice Cooper the recurring benefit of the doubt, though I feel like I'm going down with the ship on that one, sometimes. But, I guess I'm always hanging on for that one "return to form" album I hope he's got in him. But, good to see the B-52s didn't let you down.

Sent by Richard Church | 4:58 PM | 4-2-2008

hmm...from an audio perspective, i am not a fan of how this new B-52's single makes obvious use of autotune on the vocals. (the act of digitally processing the vocal so that it sounds almost robotic, but mercilessly intune.) the B-52's are a great band. but, i wish they'd have made a record that didn't sonically sound like so much modern pop radio music.

Sent by annie | 7:15 PM | 4-2-2008

I saw Sinead O'Connor a few years ago when she did her reggae show. Her voice is still amazing regardless of what she is singing. Plus, it was worth hearing Burning Spear yell to the crowd at random moments, "Talk to me people. Talk to me."

I agree with the earlier comment about Kate & Iggy on "Candy"

I am really interested in hearing the new REM cd. I tuned out after Monster but love their older stuff.

Sent by Emily | 12:45 AM | 4-3-2008

You ask for my opinion. Why does music have to be a 'band'? What if you aren't on the 'band'wagon, you think its in a rut, you think rock has become everything it started out opposing, you think the only thing rock is rebelling against is change and innovation, and you want something other than dinosaurs. Bands are the cutting edge ... of 1964. How about covering the music of THIS century, THIS millenium. Why not talk about the scariest music in decades - Post-Bands Music the melodic music that is the tip of the art revolution iceberg. Too scary? Not bland enough? The world needs new music, because rock is no longer new at all. It needs something that is so scary that it upsets people and makes them excited again.

Sent by Tom Hendricks | 10:56 AM | 4-3-2008

Some of the songs on 'Funplex' are really good, likely some of the greatest pop we'll hear this year. But the cover really annoys me. Fred Schneider looks like an extremely annoying exercise guru selling some contraption for sit-ups on a late night infomercial. And Strickland looks like he wants to be a member of Interpol. Very irrelevant gripes, I know.

Sent by Stuart | 2:35 PM | 4-3-2008

Hell yeah! Own Private Idaho... and 52 Girls my all time faves frm the 52's. I've always admired the harmonies between the 2 chicks. They sound amazing when they harmonize.

Sent by Marissa Dailey | 4:43 AM | 4-4-2008

Hey Carrie - generally speaking, whenever I find out that one of my old faves has risen from the ashes there is always an undeniable feeling of curiousity and anxiety. Like you said, is it better to fondly remember them the way they were or replace that memory with the "new" (i.e. older) and "improved(?)" version?
If their new album offers nothing more than the lyrical equivalent of a plea for cash then it is likely that I will feel a bit cheated, definitely disappointed and may resent the band that I once adored.

Having said that, this first video sounds like the good old tried and true B52s that I remember from the late 80s. This is good. However... seeing that video reminded me of the movie "Myra Breckinridge" which featured a 76 year old Mae West farcically playing the role of a sex-pot. This is not good. The band looked so old and misplaced.

Sent by Katrina | 11:27 PM | 4-4-2008

I think I'm probably more forgiving than most; otherwise, I wouldn't have bought the new REM in the first place. Whether having to suffer through two outright duds and one mediocre album was worth for the new one, which is fabulous, is an interesting question to ponder. One the one hand, I think "Accelerate" is easily their best album since "Automatic for the People." On the other hand, it makes me angry - why couldn't ALL of the recent albums have been this good?

Sent by Jeff | 7:09 AM | 4-7-2008

Most bands/artists eventually overstay their welcome, don't they? But who's to say they should just hang it up? While it is nice to romanticize and think that people might actually choose to quit while they are ahead, who really does? I guess some do but the only ones who really do are those who die in their prime.

In 1986 or 1995 you could have easily made the case that Dylan should have given it up long ago. I mean after Slow Train Coming what really was there? Some good songs amidst a bunch of mediocre (at best) work. But, lo and behold, the last three records have been pretty great, not to mention Chronicles.

The great Randy Newman addressed the aging rock and roller dilemma perfectly in his song "I'm Dead" which begins:

I have nothing left to say
But I'm gonna say it anyway
Thirty years upon a stage
And I hear the people say
Why won't he go away?

I pass the houses of the dead
They're calling me to join their group
But I stagger on instead
Dear God, sweet God
Protect me from the truth, hey

I'm dead but I don't know it

Now tonight I saw Carbon/Silicon and while they are no Clash (okay not even close) I have to say it was a great pleasure to see Mick Jones up on stage so clearly having such a good time. There is something to be said for a musician playing for the joy of it just for entertainment's sake. The new record is good stuff, the live show worth the price of admission. Instead of trying to outdo the glorious past (or pretend that it isn't past) he seems to have chosen a route that acknowledges where he's come from but doesn't pretend that his still there. When you think about it, not such a bad compromise

(sorry for the rambling nature of this post)

Sent by -pgc | 12:50 AM | 4-8-2008

I couldn't see the clips, but on a side note I was reading about an Improv group that warms up with a game called "What's Fred Schneider doing now?" where they all repeat the question and then a person makes up something to be doing with Fred Schneider intonation, "I'm making myself a hot pocket, pepperoni hot pocket."

Sent by zach | 10:22 PM | 4-8-2008

I grew up in Atlanta during the B's first parties. I've followed them since. It took me a few plays to decide if I like the new LP. After the mid-period stuff, (Summer of Love)I was surprised to hear a sound closer to their original sound. I've decided that I LOVE the CD and look forward to seeing them in Chicago next month for the 12th time.

Sent by D.Worley | 11:40 PM | 4-10-2008

Fred Schneider preparing himself a pepperoni Hot Pocket is a tantalizing comedy prospect.

Sent by KG | 2:16 AM | 4-11-2008

Analyzing the various incarnations and ramifications of the B-52s and trying to decide if they're 'fun enough' anymore is like trying to decide if you still like chocolate or good champagne.
They ROCK
They're FUN
They're DANCEABLE
They RULE the known universe
Rock is still vital, still evolving, and always interesting and wonderful, and anything that makes you shake your ass and giggle is good.

Sent by Olivia | 10:19 PM | 4-13-2008

I saw the B52's in Toronto with Martha and the Muffins in either 1977 or 78 (can't remember)

they played a converted movie theater - i was a kid and it was my first almost-a-club gig as opposed to a stadium concert

I can remember every minute of planet claire - fred schneider dancing around with what I'm sure was a walkie talkie - warbling voices - the whole thing had a great atmosphere

they were part of my growing up - bands like flash and the pan, the the, kratfwerk - it was kind of a cool era, despite what everybody says

Sent by sharon | 9:55 PM | 4-16-2008

Yes, Ricky was an amazing guitarist/songwriter, though I think the entire band has always been involved in the writing. It's a shame on old videos of the band that so little attention was paid to him as he played. There is only one frame in a Saturday Night show where you can make out which string he left out (fourth down). As a fan from their first LP, who loved them all (yes, even Mesopotamia, filled with the tension of working with David Byrne)up until Ricky died, was amazed that they came back with Cosmic Thing, but never considered it in the same league as the first ones. And after Good Stuff, with maybe two good tracks, I was floored to hear this new album and hear it be so good. It does harken back to the songs from the first two LP's that they laid out before recording anything. Bits and pieces of some of the old harmonies are there. But there are a few differences this time. Kieth is less chanelling Ricky than playing simple and powerful riffs, like he's found himself in his playing. Fred is more up front, and he and Cindy and Kate sing on most tracks. I haven't been to see them since 1982, and didn't think they would be a thrill onstage again, but from this album and the videos of them playing in Europe last year, they are great as a band. I'm looking forward to seeing them next Friday in Philadelphia. Can't stop playing the album. By the way, it's mixed in a kind of multichannel mono. But it rocks.

Sent by Bob | 9:48 PM | 4-20-2008

I thought when Television reunited in 1992 and did that eponymous album, it sounded pretty great. Nothing could ever top "Marquee Moon" and it shouldn't have to. I'm grateful to hear Tom Verlaine's guitar whenever possible.

Sent by Gina V. | 12:34 PM | 4-25-2008

"Funplex" is the most righteous, uncomplicated fun I've had listening to an album in a very long time.

Sent by KG | 3:17 AM | 4-28-2008

been a fan since they appeared halloween night my freshman year at university of delaware in 1980. I've had all the records and this easily ranks with a solid argument to be made this is theeir best yet. Fun, funny and impossible to sit still while listening it opens strong with barely a miss. And three of the last four cuts are personal faves. The last one "Let's keep This Party Going" has smash potential. A career crowning great effort - hopefully not their last.

Sent by skip collins | 9:40 PM | 4-30-2008

i thought funplex was only ok, nothing really jumped out at me. i'll give it another listen and probably like it more after that. i loved good stuff and cosmic thing (and mesopotamia, for that matter - "cake" is worth it all by itself!), and funplex sounds similar to those.

two other "comebacks" of note - the hooters and lindsey buckingham both put out worthy albums after 10+ years away. i think it's great that older artists can still put out fun, vital music that i can relate to. i listen to tons of new acts too, but don't have much interest in this week's hannah montana.

Sent by ricardo | 11:43 PM | 5-26-2008

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