Click Here To Purchase With the Wild Crowd: Live in Athens Ga

Musicians: The B-52s

Publisher: Eagle Records




Let’s face it. If a B-52s gig can’t put you in a good mood, you probably don’t deserve one.


In the case of the first B-52s concert now officially released on CD, the band was commemorating a historic occasion. Recorded in the group’s hometown of Athens, Georgia, the ensemble was celebrating the 34th anniversary of their first-ever live show on Valentine’s Day in 1977 in the same town. Naturally the set was a retrospective of the group’s musical history from 1979 through their most recent material in 2008.

All the trademark elements of the B-52s are captured in these 90 minutes. There’s Keith Strickland’s surf guitar and Fred Schneider’s quirky narrations. Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson belt out their call-and-response melodies with Schneider. For this set, as they have for B-52s concerts since 2004, the back-up players include Sterling Campbell (drums), the excellent Paul Gordon (keyboards, guitar) and Tracy Wormworth (bass).

Strickland’s lead opens the first track, “Pump” before the Sci-Fi motifs kick in for “Private Idaho,” the B-52s second Top 100 entry back in 1979. We go 3,000 years back in time in 1982’s “Mesopotamia,” go sky-high in “Ultraviolet,” and then into the future in “Love In The Year 3000.” Of course, we gotta get funky in 1989’s “Cosmic Thing” and fuse The Ventures with “Peter Gunn” with odd hair fashions on “Planet Claire.” (The latter, along with “52 Girls,” are from the band’s 1979 debut album.)

Throughout, the high-spirited humor of the group is evident as when the girls promise you fish and candy if you’ll only “Give Me Back My Man.” The group becomes pleasure seekers commenting on consumerism while shopping in the “Funplex,” one of their more recent tunes from 2008. They really have fun with party crashers in the theatrical “Party Out Of Bounds.” Then, in case you’ve forgotten, “Wig” takes us back to the days when the B-52s were a member of what was called New Wave rock.  

Part of the pleasures of a live gig are hearing the band connect with the audience. for example, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, we’re offered a “Whammy Kiss” from 1983. The band takes us down “dirty, dusty roads of Athens” in their classic 1990 hit “Roam.” “Hot Corner,” Fred tells us, is about the group and Athens. On the other hand, songs like “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster” remind us the B-52s have no difficulty recreating their studio sound on stage. They rarely vary a note from the familiar versions, at least the album cuts and not their many re-mixes issued as singles or EPs. Perhaps that’s why no live recordings have been put out before. With the exception of the extended “Rock Lobster,” there are really no surprises here, no fresh approaches to the now 30 years of material.     

It’s also true there’s a measure of sameness throughout any B-52s album. This concert is no different. Still, the only real disappointment for fans would be looking over the track list and not seeing favorite titles.   No “Good Stuff” or “Channel Z”? Well, this was the first sanctioned release which means there could be a second helping should the band decide to celebrate itself again. Who wouldn’t want to be in that audience? It would be very good stuff too--

Click Here To Purchase With the Wild Crowd: Live in Athens Ga