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Classic of the Week

August 25, 1994|JON MATSUMOTO

The B-52s

"Whammy!" (1983)

Warner Bros.

The B-52s hail from Athens, Ga. But after spinning through this disc, you may find yourself thinking that these quirky bohemians come from a different planet.

Of course, mankind should be so lucky to be visited by extraterrestrials this fun-loving and musically eccentric. With "Whammy!," the B-52s concocted a delicious brand of space-age pop that will get your hips shaking even as it sets your head spinning.

The high stepping "Whammy Kiss" comes with a bubbly and propulsive rhythm track. But when the quintet rifles out a series of cartoonish sound effects, and vocal messengers Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson start referring to Planet X, you know this is no ordinary dance number.

In the smile-inducing "Song For a Future Generation," the group members introduce themselves by way of astrological signs and by reciting a few of their own personal pleasures. Wilson tells us that the presence of chihuahuas and Chinese noodles is guaranteed to make her day. But mostly, the band uses this kooky pop song to fantasize about stepping into the shoes of other far-out characters in the cosmos.

The B-52s appeared to be in deep trouble in the immediate years following "Whammy!" A key creative component, guitarist Ricky Wilson, died of AIDS in 1985 and a year later the group released its dismal "Bouncing Off the Satellites" album. But it rebounded in 1989 with "Cosmic Thing," its best selling album ever.

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