THE ALBUM -- The B-52s, "Wild Planet," Warner Bros. (BSK 3471).; THE CONCERT -- At the Warner Theater, Monday
The alphanumeric B-52 is southern slang for a large, high bouffant hairstyle painstakingly created by combining elbow grease with a teasing comb and a large can of spray. In the plural form, it's also the name of a New Wave band with a recent LP that forecasts a good show. Monday night when the group appears at the Warner Theater.
"Wild Planet" is the second album for the B-52s, a quintet of guitarists and percussionists who sing and play toy piano, too. They also write pretty good tunes with some some pretty weird lyrics; not so weird that you don't want to hear about it, but weird enough so your're not quite sure what's funny and what's perverse.
On stage and on the cover of their album, singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson wear spike heels and variations of the bouffant hairdo that serves as the group's ersatz trademark; drummer Keith Strickland, guitarist Ricky Wilson and vocalist Fred Schneider don't dress quite as loud. Appearances aside, in the recording studio the five make a sound that's surely rock'n'roll.
The group takes a bleary, punk-eyed look at the perils of entertaining on the album's first track, "Party Out of Bounds": Who's to blame when situations degenerate? Disgusting things you'd never anticipate People get sick, they play the wrong games You know, it could ruin your name.
There's another party on "Dirty Back Don't stop, don't look behind you/-Reckless driving on dirty back roads. And there's more psycho-sexual drama on "Devil in My Car," a tough track about an often-taken trip to hell.
On "Quiche Lorraine" we're told the bizarre tale of a devoted man and his thankless poodle: Every day I take her out/She runs around and she shouts out, "Bark!" Unfortunately, Quiche, the poodle, runs away: The dog that brought me so much joy has left me wallowing in pain.
"Private Idaho" is a warning suburbanites everywhere to give up pool and patio: Don't be blind, there's a big surprise swimming 'round and 'round like the deadly hands on a radium clock at the bottom of the pool.
"Wild Planet" closes on an odd note with "53 Miles West of Venus," a bit of pseudo-disco complete with repeating lyric and driving bass. It's not an unpleasant track, it just seems out of character and out of synch -- which, naturally, may be the point.