With the Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA is the first official live album by American new wave band The B-52s. On February 18, 2011 the band joyfully celebrated its 34th anniversary with a triumphant return to their hometown of Athens, GA. Wig-wearing, boa-draped, glitter-covered fans came from near and far to celebrate this historic event, which saw the band deliver a sizzling 90 minute set that turned Athens’ Classic Center into a cosmic dancehall. The concert was released on a CD, DVD and Blu-ray entitled The B-52s With The Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA. In a review of the CD, Chuck Howard from Scripps Howard News Service proclaimed, “How The B-52′s have maintained their endearing vitality after all these years is a wonder, yet fans who hear “With the Wild Crowd!” will doubtless wish immortality on this uplifting band.”
Six weeks after the B-52s released their brilliant first album in the hot new wave summer of 1979, they found themselves on-stage in Boston opening for Talking Heads. Some brilliant person decided it would be a good night to record the band; some less brilliant person buried the tape in the Warner Bros. vault for decades. The performance includes songs from both the first album and Wild Planet, and features the B-52s ripping heartily through the songs like they were dedicated to giving the crowd the night of their lives. Decades later the effect is still the same.
Released in 1998, Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation is the essential B-52's greatest-hits collection. A chronologically assembled highlight reel of the group's first two decades, it contains all of their singles and a number of album favorites, along with two exclusive then-newly written tracks. When they first arrived on the scene in 1979, their kitschy thrift-store image and weirdly spartan sound immediately set them apart from others in the new wave scene to which they were loosely attached. Three guys, two girls, arcane hairdos, no bassist, and a sound that was equal parts spy music and good-time dance party, the B-52's were always fascinatingly loveable outsiders and remained so throughout their years of success. Beginning with "Planet Claire," "52 Girls," and the immortal "Rock Lobster," Time Capsule winds its way through their early and mid-'80s hits like "Quiche Lorraine" and the charming "Song for a Future Generation." As they continued to grow and evolve, their sound expanded, becoming both more nostalgic and more light-hearted, leading into their commercial peak in the early '90s with the excellent "Channel Z," "Roam," and of course "Love Shack".
Following the botched collaboration with David Byrne on Mesopotamia, the B-52's decided to craft their fourth album as a return to the pop-culture funk explosion of their debut. Smartly, they decided to not simply replicate the skewed Southern funk of that album, choosing to update their signature sound with drum machines and new wave synths. As a result, it now sounds a little forced and dated, but the best moments – "Legal Tender," "Whammy Kiss," "Butterbean," "Song for a Future Generation" – rank as B-52's classics, and the entire record is certainly entertaining, even with its faults.
Many observers were prepared to write off the B-52's after the release of Bouncing Off the Satellites. Granted, the album was completed in the wake of Ricky Wilson's death, but the group appeared bereft of new musical ideas and were sounding rather stale. In other words, the last thing anyone expected was a first-class return to form, which is what they got with Cosmic Thing. Working with producers Don Was and Nile Rodgers, the B-52's updated their sound with shiny new surfaces and deep, funky grooves – it was the same basic pattern as before, only refurbished and contemporized. Just as importantly, they had their best set of songs since at least Wild Planet, possibly since their debut. "Cosmic Thing" and "Channel Z" were great up-tempo rockers; "Roam" had a groovy beat blessed with a great Cindy Wilson vocal; and "Deadbeat Club" was one of their rare successful reflective numbers.