Album in Depth Reviewaday Marathon Polka Your Eyes Out: Cosmic Thing by the B-52’s

There is a B-52’s song on the medley… but it’s the third song of the bunch. The second song is a remix of Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega. The remix wasn’t released on any albums, and I dislike reviewing singles, but, hell, let’s check them both out, quickly. The original song is slow, has a certain charm to it, downer lyrics and kind of a day in the life atmosphere… I didn’t like it. I am, strangely enough, familiar with the works of Suzanne Vega (I don’t know why, I don’t know Billy Idol but I’ve heard Suzanne Vega. Although the song deserves a check, it’s not exactly great. DNA only added a beat to it and strings… summing up, both songs are really bad. Really, they are. It’s a boring song and a boring song with a beat. Next.

B-52’s is another band that I don’t know a lot… first off, I just know discovered they were an early eighties band. From there style, I could’ve bet all my money on a more Beach Boys period of time and be dead wrong. Second, I only know it because Peter Griffin played Rock Lobster to Cleveland one episode to cheer him up, with mixed success (it didn’t change anything). Afterwards, I heard something of them more recent, and to be frank, nothing made me run after them, but nothing made me run away. I can identify them, and when people ask me about them, I can say something about them (the silly wigs, the silly duets, the silly songs work entirely with their proposal) but really, nothing further. They are not an obvious suggestion on my part. And I thought Surfing Birds were theirs, and I thought Rocko’s Modern Life was by someone else.

The cover of the album is trippy and really campy. It really mixes with the whole B-52 suggestion of going with the fashions and a bit of the style (not musical style, mind you) of the fifties, with some minor influences of the early sixties, with the bubbly hippie colors. The entire album runs for 47 minutes, with the longest song out of the album being our very own Love Shack, with 5:21 and the shortest one being the intro title song, Cosmic Thing, with 3:50. It’s not usual for the title track to be the shortest: on the contrary, it’s almost always the longest one.

The album got 1st place in Australia, but in Europe, 8th was all he could achieve, and in its own backyard, a 4th. It’s the first album I ever reviewed that has on its personnel a clothing wardrobe guy (or gal) named Alpana Bawa. Also, that’s why it’s the only name I’m going to say, just because it’s more fun that way. Let’s get this over with: Cosmic Thing by the B-52’s!

1st track: “Cosmic Train” – Well, what can I say: it’s exactly what you expect from the band. Fun, fast songs with that kind of beachy mood to it, mixed with something you expected from a beach party. The singing is awesome, the effects on the guitars are awesome, even with a short arpeggio being the only major thing the guitar do outside a pretty straight forward solo… we have to concentrate on their forte: the exchange between the male tame vocal and the incredibly enthusiastic female singing. My only problem with the song is that it feels as a between song, not a intro to an album… like, if you had never heard any B-52’s songs, you would be thinking the side A is missing. Aside from that, great tune.

2nd track: “Dry Country” – I was terrified with the second song, because I was kind of expecting an album of the same song over and over and over. Thankfully, it’s not. In the contrary, this song lays it low and boogies with it. It has some effects that should belong into a Bee Gees or an early Hip Hop song and that work in their favor, even having a guitar riffing over it. The song deserves props on the multitude of singing, although the lyrics are as deep as a pond of water in a basketball court in a rainy day. There is a bridge over the 2 minute and a half mark, where the girls start singing, that the song goes really, really campy. Seriously, it could be part of the soundtrack of any B slasher film movie, making it really that much enjoyable. It has a low point, near the end, with some uninspired ideas all around, but really, the song should be listened for the rest of its campiness.

3rd track: “Deadbeat Club” – With the most unusual start ever and a drum that sounds like Mickey, the song starts and what you get it’s a woman singer song that has everything to be horrid… but it’s great. Wow, I wasn’t expecting this quality out of this album. The back vocals are fucking great, the style of the song is great, the chorus has an average singing and a really soprano voice that completes the fuck out of this song. Even the dead toned vocals of the male singer makes the song incredible. The bass works the crap out of it, winning everything and everything the song stands for. This song is awesome! How come I’ve never heard this song before?

4th track: “Love Shack” – The song Weird Al included in the medley and it’s another awesome song, with the feel of Shrimp Shack (I think) of the Wonders movie… it feels as a beach luau, more so because of some added sounds of a party. The chorus is a little bit slower compared to the way Weird Al sang it, and, in my opinion, the chorus… was done better by Weird Al. The song is good, but sincerely, so far… it’s probably the worst song out of the bunch. The bridge is awesome, with the exchange between the vocal styles being… complete awesome, but we have to give the victory again to Weird Al. I didn’t find anything more to this song than that, really… well, the false ending’s fine, I guess… I like false starts and false ends.

5th track: “Junebug” – A strange as hell start that is only complemented by a drum style that is straight from You Can’t Hurry Love, the song has one describing word: bipolar. The parts the guy sings are bad, the parts the gals sing are great… except for the chorus, of course, which lacks something. The song, by a whole, wrongs for the absence of any recognizable instruments on the first plane of the song but it has some great moments, unfortunately, don’t suffice. The song has an even campier feel to it than the previous ones, but this time, it sounded forced. Maybe the previous ones were forced and this one was the only one that wasn’t, but it really sounds different from the rest. At least they tried something completely different, and I applaud the initiative.

6th track: “Roam” – After an intro that belongs, frankly, to the bad parts of the Broadway’s Les Miserables, the song becomes much more enjoyable, being again a girls song, with less and less of the male vocals, that in my opinion, hinders it heavily. It has a more of a new wave quality to it, sounding like some of the crap I reviewed yesterday, with a soft guitar that doesn’t take any risk, with a snare drum and some applause working the beat, nothing to special back there. I also think it’s the most passive song ever recorded… “Roam if you want to”? Surprisingly effective when you imitate the free will era of the music, the song is also one of the best song of the bunch. This album is being much more than I expected.

7th track: “Bushfire” – It’s a Marijuana song. I was expecting a song about sex (because a bush could be set on fire because of friction, and my mind is on the gutter), but the song is about pot. Not a bad pot song, it doesn’t go all the way and tell you that, like most songs nowadays (where they sing a verse like “and then I was smoking pot”, I always hated when they crossed a message faster than it should be). It is trippy, and also could be describing a bad trip, because there is this guy asking to be rescued and the girl is going “get away from here”… well, it could be actual forest fire, but I wouldn’t bet any money on that. The lack of guitar solos makes it a bad pot song, but I guess the song is not exactly horrible; it’s just really an average song in between some great tunes.

8th track: “Channel Z” – It’s another average song, nothing to great but nothing to bad… the vocals are fun, as usual, but the lack of anything really makes it… just average. In fact, it’s a bad song. I think it achieved single status, but really, it lacks anything. I’m not the one to vouch for it, but it lacks consistency so much that the song really wears on me. It has the new wave feel of the times, for bad or for worse, uninspired singing, going to the length of trying something interesting (kind of a Bohemian Rhapsody) but then drops the idea fastest than you could say “Scaramouch”.

9th track: “Topaz” – The song is fun, and it really reminds of stuff like, well, mostly, Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, but honestly enough, the song has only it on its side… it’s more trippy than Bushfire, with some seventies synths and philosophical so deep it’s shallow lyrics… but the song is kind of good, while remembering me, also, of Earth, Wind and Fire, with some nice guitars on the background and on the front stage. Although I could argue, as a student of Geology, what the fuck is the “speed of a Topaz”, the ending is effective and should be commended for it: while the female continue singing, the song fades out and, really, leave an impact. This should’ve been the calm tuckering in of the last song.

10th track: “Follow Your Bliss” – …an instrumental… and a pretty good instrumental. There are few instrumentals that presents vocals as an instrument, with no real lyrics, but the instrumentation is awesome. This song is great. It’s calming, and you can really see it as a first step to many bands that followed this album, throughout the nineties and 00’s. To be honest, I could see this as an inspirational track to some albums released beforehand. Maybe that was the idea: this song works. And it’s an excellent outro to an excellent album.

So, how does it all hold up? I loved this album. I wasn’t expecting so much quality, as I always overlooked the B-52’s. I’m severely impressed with their work and will search for more of it. This album works as a gateway to the band perfectly, should be listened by any of those assholes that say that new wave had nothing to add, it’s just that it’s pretty hard to find good stuff. This album should be in anyone’s collection and should be heard all around by everyone. Was it the best album I reviewed? No… but it’s definitely on the upper half.

This is JotaKa, signing off.

Tomorrow, Pump up the Jam The Album… in opposition to Pump up the Jam the Movie, I guess…

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