The B-52’s – Live! 8.24.1979 (2016) review

August 14, 2016

The B-52’s – Live! 8.24.1979 (2016) review

The B-52’s – Live! 8.24.1979 (Real Gone Music, 2016)
This is a nine-song live set The B-52’s performed as the opening act playing in front of Talking Heads in Boston, shortly after their self-titled debut album was released. A few of the selections are from their follow-up Wild Planet, so clearly the band had those songs written well ahead of that album’s appearance about a year later. This was a marquee gig for a rising act. 
The studio versions of “Rock Lobster,” “52 Girls,” “Private Idaho,” etc. are more fully realized and play better than the live renditions as something to dance (this mess) around to, but it’s great to hear the band in this rawer mode. Ricky Wilson’s taut guitar playing is a highlight of the show, especially on the spirited performance of “Lava.” And it’s fun to hear the members’ stage banter, both between and during the songs. One considerable disappointment, though, is the absence of “Planet Claire” on the set.  
As a live album, this is not terribly remarkable really. But any fan of The B-52’s should savor the opportunity to hear them playing from the stage at this crucial juncture of their career. And anyone who was lucky enough to be there and see them, and then watch Talking Heads, who had just released Fear of Music, is to be envied.

– Brian Greene
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