September 20, 2021

Album Of The Week: The 41st Anniversary of ‘Wild Planet’ by The B-52’s

Having delivered a solid breakthrough debut album with their eponymous 1979 record The B52’s kept their riotous retro leaning party going with arguably a better second album; Wild Planet. Released on August 27th 1980, Wild Planet contained tracks that were already familiar to their avid fan base as the band had chosen to hold back songs from their first album to ensure a “strong second album”. Having burst onto the scene in early 1978 with one of their classic cuts, Rock Lobster, The B52’s further enhanced their reputation and grew their audience with the epic Planet Claire and infectious Dance This Mess Around. Wishing to replicate the success of the band’s first album The B52’s once again made the trip to the Bahamas to record Wild Planet at Compass Point studios. Rolling Stone considered it “flatter and duller” than their debut record but fans loved it.

Unlike today’s albums there was no pre-release single to introduce the record, just a full release containing nine tracks that would eventually give up three singles, including the film title inspiring first, Private Idaho. The fifth track on Wild Planet was a signature B52’s composition with shared vocals, a driven percussion, revolving guitar riffs and hook laden quirky keys adding extra interest.

The second single lifted from Wild Planet was not quite as manic and frenzied as many of their other, better known, singles. Give Me Back My Man was positively subdued by The B52’s standards – the vocals were more considered and the rhythms were more restrained. There was more of an 80’s influence on this track with The B52’s embracing both the past and the future simultaneously.

The opening track from the album became it’s third and final single. Party Out Of Bounds, which also gave rise to a radio show and a book in later life, was The B52’s at their best; full of energy, a little mischievous and with masses of appeal. If Party Out Of Bounds doesn’t at least get your feet tapping, your heart beating faster and your body heading for the dance floor then there’s no hope!.

The party atmosphere wasn’t confined to the first and last singles, Runnin’ Around and to a lesser degree, Strobe Light, were as upbeat and infectious as any of the tracks to be found on Wild Planet whilst Devil In My Car kept up the BPM but with a darker soundtrack and rockier arrangement. Of the more laid back tracks, Dirty Back Road, Quiche Lorraine and the album’s close out track, 53 Miles From Venus proved that The 52’s could be restrained but still show great creativity and experimentation in their songs.

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