The B-52s

The B-52s

The B-52s

With the Wild Crowd: Live in Athens Ga

Eagle Rock Entertainment

After thirty years of rocking out to the space-age ’60s, you’d think The B-52s (now joyously apostrophe-less?) would have a few live albums out there, but this is the first time we can catch the band in the comfort of our own iPods. Maybe it’s their 401k tour, but before the 2008 biscuit Funplex, it had been long, dry 16 years since their poorly received Good Stuff. But tonight’s a real Rock Show, they rip through “Pump” and “Private Idaho” and “Mesopotamia” and pretty much everything people sang along to over the years. “Give Me Back My Man” is plaintive and lonely, “Funplex” shows they may well have another hit in their blood, and “52 Girls” brings us back to 1979.

The core of the band remains: Kate Pierson on vocals and keys, Cindy Wilson on vocals, Fred Schneider on cowbell, Keith Strickland on guitar, and a few studio types helping out in the back rows. As live albums go, this isn’t particularly bad; they hit most of the high points and all I really missed was “Song for a Future Generation.” The energy is sharp and tangible, and they only do one audience chorus shout out. The audio is a bit flat which somehow makes this more authentic, but it could be coming off the monitor channel. Despite these minor weaknesses I’ve had this in my car player for over a week and still have no real desire to fast forward through anything but the band intro.

More than a time capsule, less than a rave hit fest, it’s not a bad way to pick up on what I thought the first time I heard “Rock Lobster” — “That’s a HIT! Who are these guys? They’re gonna be HUGE!” Sometimes I’m right, I’ll be happy to let you know.

The B-52s: theb52s.com

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