A lot of my early exposure to music came from my older siblings. This week’s album came directly from my oldest sister Tracy back in the late 1970s.

The B-52’s. Original lineup: Fred Schneider (vocals/percussion), Keith Strickland (guitar/keyboards/drums), Kate Pierson (vocals/percussion), Ricky Wilson (guitar), Cindy Wilson (vocals/percusssion).

An alien transmission at the dawn of New Wave…

The first time I heard “Rock Lobster” by The B-52’s, it was blasting from my sister’s stereo in her room during her senior year in high school. The B-52’s self-titled debut album was released a year later during the summer of 1979. Since I was 8 years old at the time, I was not allowed anywhere near Tracy’s stereo, but I loved hearing the album when she played it. “Rock Lobster” was such a blast, and I thought “Planet Claire” was one of the coolest songs I’d ever heard. (I still do.)

Originally from Atlanta, The B-52’s blew onto the national scene with a fantastic new wave sound and a really fun look. Not only did I love hearing the record, but I was riveted by the band’s kitschy drag throwback aesthetic on that unmistakable yellow album cover.

Some artists take a few albums to really find their voice and their look. The B-52’s seemed to come off the vinyl press fully formed. Though their biggest success came 10 years later after my own high school graduation with the 1989 album Cosmic Thing, which included the hits “Love Shack,” “Channel Z” and “Roam,” that first album from 1979 has always been my favorite. It’s so good. 

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  1. Ditto, George. My oldest sister who was in college in 1979 was the one who turned me onto this. I was 9, and my little brain was blown to bits by Planet Claire. Still love this album too. And as someone originally from Georgia, between the B-52’s and REM, it was a point of pride too.