Rhythm & Views
JULY 27, 1998:
Time Capsule: Songs For A Future Generation
I VIVIDLY REMEMBER deejaying a college shindig back in 1980, and what happened after I casually tossed then-unknown "Rock Lobster" on the turntable. The crowd froze like deer in the oncoming headlights, or staring, dumbfounded zombies at a spelling bee. They were simultaneously baffled, disgusted and offended. This wasn't Springsteen or Kurtis Blow. Three months later, the B-52's novelty-cum-new wave cult classic had become our most requested song. The same idiots who screamed for the Boss and "the Breaks" were then flopping around like hooked fish on a filthy, beer-soaked dance floor as soon as the needle touched the groove. Nobody expected the curious attraction that beckoned from the squealing voices and silly bouffant wigs of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, or the fluorescent '60s retro-shtick emanating from Watusi-crazed frontman, Fred Schneider.
As years passed and mass audiences became hip to the kitschy tongue-in-cheek jokes of this surreal Athens, Georgia, quintet, the B-52's carved out a silly niche a mile wide. Time Capsule collects a generous helping of the B-52's butt-shakin' faves, but barely scratches the surface of the group's weird, bumpy musical odyssey. Strangely absent are any rare or live dance scud missiles. Only two newly recorded songs have been unceremoniously tacked on as an afterthought: "Debbie," the alleged love-struck ode to new wave uber-diva Debbie Harry, and the interstellar fantasy worship of "Hallucinating Pluto." Stand-out tracks include the campy sci-fi brilliance of "Planet Claire," the irresistible "52 Girls," and underrated "Mesopotamia," a groove-oriented robotic bop that deserves a second chance among the knuckleheads who program today's retro alt-rock airwaves.
Bele Bele en La Habana
CUBA EXPORTS SOME of the hottest jazz pianists, no question about it. Back in '91, they gave us keyboardist supreme Gonzalo Rubalcaba; and now we get Chucho Valdes, who's not been heard much since he led the Latin band Irakere back in the '70s. While tethering his playing a bit more than the younger Rubalcaba, Valdes nonetheless flings himself across the expanse of the keyboard so regularly he must have stretch marks under his arms. His flashy fingerwork on "But Not For Me" is as percussive as the two drummers who back him, leading Valdes to occasionally sound like a Latin version of McCoy Tyner. This latest effort is at least several steps above the typical Cuban salsa jazz outing.
A SMIRKING KID lounges on a glittering mound of Ft. Knox's chief crop, which is guarded by strippers dressed as cops. Dead presidents flutter in the air like moths navigating a flame while bikini bimbos pout and push their own assets towards the camera. A pair of vulcanized dominatrixes flank a Satanic-looking lead singer as a host of worshipful devils hoist goblets of blood in toast. And a manic, snarling driver, inevitably accompanied by two scantily-clad models, plows his lowrider into a screaming pope, bishop and nun. And that's just the artwork, Skeezix! Gotta be the latest dope dropped by Master P, right? Yo, yo, check this shit out, it ain't no homies and hoes kickin' it in tha hood, but the most retarded New Jersey invention since row housing. Monster Magnet's the name, psychedelicized Quaalude rock's da game. Zone out to the Hawkwind-like "Crop Circle," or kneel and say your mantra in the Stones-meets-Seeds "Temple Of Your Dreams," or simply wait for the chemicals to take effect in the lunkhead metal of the delicately-titled "Bummer."
Baby, I'm your man of the hour/Some people go to bed with Lucifer/I know life's a bummer baby, but that's got nothing to do with me! wails Magnet singer Dave Wyndorf, a master of the rock non sequitur, unfolding the rock-theatre canvas as his bandmates paint big, gaudy slabs of instantly familiar riffage. And you thought rappers had all the fun being self-referentially stupid! Word up!
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