THE B-52’S The B-52’s (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab)
After the wretched travesties of the Radio Birdman and Soft Boys reissues whinged about below, it’s a relief to report on some New Wave vinyl that’s actually pleasurable to listen to. On their eponymous 1979 debut, The B-52’s sounded like early Talking Heads crashlanding on the set of a John Waters movie, and it’s still awesome today in appropriate doses.
“Planet Claire” is “Peter Gunn” in space, and the boy/girl vocal sparring of Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson on “Dance This Mess Around” surely influenced The Sugarcubes. The bug-eyed barminess of “Rock Lobster” apparently lured John Lennon out of his musical retirement and “6060-842” is a so-dumb-it’s-clever singalong that makes “Love Shack” seem like “I Am The Walrus”. “Downtown” bends the Petula Clark hit so far out of shape it took nine listens before I realised it was a cover. It’s an acquired taste, undoubtedly, and I don’t think I could stomach more than an album’s worth, but “The B-52’s” is that album.
This reissue is part of an initial batch of releases on Mobile Fidelity’s new Silver Live imprint. Pressed on standard weight, rather than 180 gram, vinyl and dropping the Original Master Recording tag usually found on the label’s products (presumably so they can in good conscience use sources other than the original masters), it seems to be conceived as a relatively budget line, although by the time they reach these shores such a distinction is moot. Fortunately, though, it sounds great; maybe a bit bright and almost ruthlessly energetic, but it’s a style that suits the music. This might not be as billiard table-flat as Mobile Fidelity’s pressings usually are, but it still shows up about 90% of the vinyl I buy as being amateurishly and shoddily thrown together.