Friday, January 27, 2012
The B-52's - Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia was produced by David Byrne of the Talking Heads and was intended to be the B-52’s third studio album. However, things did not work out so only the six songs were produced. Released as an extended play instead, it served as a bridge between the groups first two full length albums The B-52's and Wild Planet (click here and here respectively for my reviews of each of those records) and their 1983 release Whammy!. The EP went to number 35 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 18 in the UK and number 21 in Sweden. All six songs could be found across three single releases as well.
Side one begins with "Loveland" and a driving drum beat from Keith Strickland. The organs and synthesizers then join in followed by Cindy Wilson on vocals. You can also hear Charles Rocket on the accordion on this track. This dance jam about a night of love-making bounces along at an even, mid-tempo pace.
The lead vocals shift on "Deep Sleep" with Kate Pierson singing this one in a lower range and almost non-emotional style. The music has an exotic, nocturnal mood to it; it is an interesting composition with a lot of things going on.
The tempo moves back into dance mode with the title track "Mesopotamia". Kate shares vocals with Fred Schneider on this funky ode to ancient times.
Side two kicks off with "Cake". Cindy and Kate are baking up some sexy sweets on this multi-layered musical treat.
Fred kicks off the lead vocals on "Throw That Beat In the Garbage Can", joined by the girls on the chorus. The saxophones, provided by Ralph Carney and Roberto Arron, are featured quite prominently on this one.
"Nip It In the Bud", with Cindy on sole vocal duties, closes out the record. The guitars and drums are as tight on this track as they have been for the entire album. Kudos to Ricky Wilson, Strickland and Kate (with a little help too by David Byrne).
I was not as familiar with Mesopotamia back in 1982 when it was released as I was with the first two albums from the B-52’s. My older brother had both of those on vinyl. In recent years, I’ve back filled my music library to include these six tracks which I like a lot. They continue to build upon the reputation of a party/dance band that the B-52’s had been cultivating since they started in Athens, Georgia. There are a number of wonderful dance tracks on this record, perfect for that 80’s dance party you are throwing (especially if you want to mix in some less familiar and thus less over-exposed tracks into the mix).