Nearly twenty-five years after the B-52’s formed in Athens, Georgia, the band’s career will get an overview with the January 15th release of the double-disc anthology Nude on the Moon. In addition to B-52’s standards “Rock Lobster,” “Roam” and “Love Shack,” the compilation will contain rarities, including a previously unreleased version of “Queen of Las Vegas” from sessions the group did with David Byrne for the Mesopotamia EP and a live version of “Is That You Mo-Dean?” recorded in the last year.
Singer Fred Schneider says the B-52’s are actively involved in the set, pouring through pictures and assembling liner notes. “It’s a good way to find out about the group,” he says. “We were one of the originators of original New Wave. We didn’t try to water anything down – we’ve been told we took punk and watered it down. We didn’t do that; we just did our own thing. I think we’re originals. Original homegrown music from Georgia. With a twist.”
The thirty-five-track collection traces the band’s progression from the campy act that churned out underground favorites such as “Dance This Mess Around” and “Planet Claire” (from their 1979 self-titled debut) through the multi-million pop sound of the group’s comeback album, Cosmic Thing, the first album recorded after the 1985 death of original guitarist Ricky Wilson, and beyond.
“We really appealed to a broad base of people,” says Schneider. “Our first album sold a million copies with virtually no radio play, except for college stations and a few alternative stations that were out there. We had fans from punk to housewives to kids to college students. It was really strange.”
In recent years, the B-52’s have only played sporadic dates, and the group hasn’t recorded an album of new material since 1992’s Good Stuff. But they are making plans to play a twenty-fifth anniversary show in February. “We’re talking now about doing a new album, so hopefully that will happen,” says Schneider. “I think we’re on better terms now than we were even a while ago. It’s hard for a group to come together and create when everyone’s scattered all throughout the country.”