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B-52’s Funplex Roundup

April 9th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Chicago, Culture, Film, LGBT, Music, New Wave, News, TV, Video

Funplex coverSo the new B-52’s album Funplex has been out for a couple of weeks now and is getting hot-pink rave reviews everywhere. Of course all during the recent period when I was busy not blogging I was wanting to post all sorts of breathless updates and links about it. But the truth is Astralwerks seems to be doing a fabulous job of promoting Funplex, so the 2’s probably don’t even need my help at this point.

Heck, yesterday I was out walking around and the Latino produce market in my neighborhood had a Funplex poster on its door! Which was so endearing I marched right in and bought some bananas and an eggplant.

Still, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t need to gush about it a little. So here’s a roundup of various B-52’s news and links.

Astralwerks has a great B-52’s home page on their site which tracks all the various appearances the 2’s have been doing — you can watch video clips of their appearances on Ellen and on Jay Leno (insert “gayest look” dig here), and I’ll bet their NPR “All Things Considered” appearance will get posted there, too, eventually.

The 2’s are playing two upcoming shows here in Chicago: the Funplex tour stops at House of Blues May 1, and then the True Colors tour at the Chicago Theatre on June 10. Since I couldn’t afford to do both (not with The Kids in the Hall touring during the same time period!), after a little consideration I decided to put my allowance down on the True Colors tour for the reasons mentioned yesterday — plus you all know how much I hate the House of Ooze, so why subject myself to that again if I don’t have to?

Now, let’s do a little video roundup.

For starters, just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the official video for the title track, featuring dancing mall cops and Fred on a Segway (if only they could have lined up a cameo from Mr. Bananagrabber!)

Now for some unofficial videos … VJ Tom Yaz, who runs the B-52’s Yahoo Group Planet X, has put together some very fun found-footage videos for a number of songs from the album.

First up, “Dancing Now” set to some Fellini dance moves. I have to say, this wasn’t one of my favorite tracks on the album before I saw this, but this video is beautiful in a wonderfully surreal sort of way and it’s brought the song alive for me.

In a similar vein, here’s “Juliet of the Spirits,” using footage from the Fellini film it’s named for:

“Hot Corner,” with dancing beach boys and babes:

And “Love in the Year 3000,” starring Miss Barbarella!

Also, the Ellen site has the full video of The B-52’s performance of “Love Shack” from her show (which was truncated in the broadcast), with Ellen dancing around in the background.

Finally, just in case you really do want my pair of pennies on the album itself, here’s my little review. The thing is, I’ve been waiting so long for a new B-52’s album, and following every little news tidbit about this one since the first rumors, that I suppose there were serious odds of too-high expectations and resulting letdown.

Fortunately, the Funplex album more than clears that bar, and I just love it to death. I had heard some bad cellphone recordings of some of the songs from live concerts, and needless to say they didn’t come anywhere near to capturing the wonderful sonic texture of this album.

“Pump” in particular sounds so much better on the record than it did on that L Word appearance, where it didn’t really grab me. Now it’s probably my second favorite track on the album.

I think Keith has done a remarkable job in crafting the sound of this particular record, rising to the challenge of making it sound like a classic A-list B-52’s album while also making it sound contemporary. He’s managed to keep the guitar sound in the realm of the established identity of the band, while updating the electronic component so it that it sounds like now, post-Fischerspooner/Moby/et al.

The lyrics are brilliant, too — I think that’s one of the places where all the time they spent on this record really shows. Lots of great little witty couplets and one-liners: Fred’s “Private property, hippie be quiet/Your peace sign t-shirt could start a riot,” for example. And I still crack up at the way Cindy sings “Here’s your stupid 7-Up.” “Funplex” alone is like a little novel or screenplay — I love the structure of the song, the transitions between its characters, settings, and voices. It’s just really tight.

If Funplex isn’t a huge hit for them — commercially as well as critically — there’s even less justice in the universe than I think, and that’s saying something here at the end of the Bush era. All the elements are here for a record that should remind the “Love Shack” crowd as well as the real fans that the 2’s are alive and kicking.

But either way, it’s a gift to have another album from my favorite New Wave band, to help me cope with my early 40s the way they helped me cope with high school nearly three decades ago. And this old New Waver is very, very happy with it.


If you still need to get your hands on a copy:

• Buy Funplex on iTunes …

        The B-52's - Funplex

• Or buy Funplex from Amazon.com

Previously on Ocelopotamus:



2 Comments so far ↓

  • Grendel

    I liked that Ellen clip, though they were struggling to hit some of those notes (and who wouldn’t be?). Mr. Ocelopotamus, I can’t think of anyone more suited to answer a question I’ve hauled around for years, namely: what do you make of “You’re what? Tin roof rusted!” Just what in the heckity heck does that mean? I’ll take the answer off the air. Thanks. Love your show.

  • Aaron

    I hope I look that when when I’M 59! (Assuming I reach it.)