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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Rewind: 1989 - The B-52's Go Cosmic!

Released 27th June 1989
Reprise Records

US Chart #4
UK Chart #8
Australian Chart #1

Produced by Nile Rodgers and Don Was

Singles from the Album
Channel Z. UK #61 (when re-released in 1990)
Love Shack. US #3 UK #2 Australia 8 weeks at #1 New Zealand #1
Roam. US #3 UK #17 New Zealand #2
Deadbeat Club. US #30

The B-52's were back after a break of three years with an album that was like a real comeback after the devasting death of guitarist Ricky Wilson (brother of Cindy) from AIDS back in 1985 after they had completed the recording of their fourth studio album 'Bouncing off the Satellites'. He was only 32 years old and hadn't told fellow band members of his illness as he did not want people to fuss over him. As a result the band went into seclusion, did not tour the album. It would be their least successful album.

Keith Strickland had been composing in 1988 and after he played some of his new music for the other band members, they all agreed to try writing together again, with Pierson, Wilson and Schneider contributing the lyrics and melodies. In 1989 the band released Cosmic Thing, their mainstream breakthrough, released on Reprise Records worldwide. The single "Channel Z", a single from the new album, became an alternative and college radio hit, hitting number one on the U.S. Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, receiving significant airplay on MTV's modern rock show 120 Minutes.

The next single, "Love Shack", with its party vibe and colorful music video, became their first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, ultimately reaching No. 3 in November 1989. That peak was matched in March 1990 when their follow-up single, "Roam", also reached No. 3. In Australia, the country that had most embraced the band a decade earlier, "Love Shack" stayed at number one for eight weeks.

A fourth single, "Deadbeat Club", which reminisced about the band's early days in Athens and whose video was shot on location and featured a cameo by fellow Athens artist R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, reached No. 30. The Cosmic Thing album climbed into the U.S. top five and earned multi-platinum certification. It also had huge international success reaching No. 1 in both Australia and New Zealand and No. 8 in the UK. The group had a hugely successful world tour to support the record, and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in March, 1990. In 1990 the B-52's were nominated for 4 MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year. They won two awards, Best Group Video and Best Art Direction.

Whilst I have a real fondness for a lot of the work that The B-52's have released over the years (their debut album is an absolute classic I think) Cosmic Thing is an album I return to a lot. 'Love Shack' is always going to get a mention when speaking of this album but for me the absolute standout track is 'Roam'. It is in my mind a real classy Pop single and it's never lost it's appeal for me. There's an absolutely delicious acoustic version of it with just Cindy Wilson singing it from a show in 2003. And it still sounds stunning live, this version is from 2013 when they played in London.

Album Personnel
    Fred Schneider – percussion, vocals, background vocals
    Cindy Wilson – vocals
    Kate Pierson – keyboards, vocals, backing vocals
    Keith Strickland – guitar, keyboards, vocals, backing vocals

Additional musicians
    Carl Beatty – horn
    Chris Cioe – horn
    Leroy Clouden – drums
    Charley Drayton – drums
    Sonny Emory – drums
    Steve Ferrone – drums
    Bob Funk – horn
    Arno Hecht – horn
    Richard Hilton – keyboards
    Sara Lee – bass, keyboards, background vocals
    Paul Literal – horn
    Tommy Mandel – keyboards
    Nile Rodgers – guitar
    Philippe Saisse – keyboards

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