Artist: the B52's
Album: The Best of the B52's: Dance this Mess Around
Released in: 1990
Some bands you discover by yourself, and you enjoy by yourself (see Alexkid). Some bands you partake in along with the rest of your generation (see Air). Some bands you find via obscure recommendation, and discuss at length with your fellow enthusiasts of the obscure (see Autechre). And then there is music that is deeply connected to the fabric of your life (see Tori Amos). Which group do the B52's fall in? Surprisingly, the last one.
It must have been my older sister who introduced me to the B52's, but they will always be associated for me with my bff. In middle school and high school, we studied intensely every single song on Cosmic Thing. We brazenly belted out Roam and Deadbeat Club walking to school ("we are wild girls / walking down the street"). The B52's were empowering in their craziness. They sang about alternate universes, bushfires, and caffeine buzzes, not about relationships or the trials of adolescence. We loved it.
I had a VHS tape of B52's videos that we would watch over and over again. There were songs on it that we enjoyed but hadn't heard of otherwise, like Song for a Future Generation and Legal Tender. Sometime in late high school or early college, I picked up Dance This Mess Around, and it all became clear. DtMA is an excellent guide to early B52's - there's not a bad track on it. There's the epically silly Wig and Dance this Mess Around, hallmarks of weirdness like Planet Claire, as well as some of the best tracks that the B52's ever recorded (and some of my fave tracks of all time) like 52 Girls and Private Idaho (which, if I've ever made you a mixtape, you probably know about).
A tacit goal of this whole blogging enterprise is to determine which of my CDs I want to preserve for posterity (ha) by adding to my hard drive. So far, it's Little Earthquakes and Dance this Mess Around.