Sometimes comebacks outdo the first time around. So it was with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]the B-52s[/lastfm], who enjoyed moderate success in the early ’80s as a quirky, fun and upbeat New Wave party band. Following the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson in 1985 (brother to vocalist Cindy Wilson) the band went on a two-year hiatus. For most New Wave bands lacking classic rock credentials to fall back upon, that would have been the end of it, as the sounds of the ’80s began to give way to dirtier, grittier sounds that would dominate the early ’90s.
For the B-52s, it was different, however. In 1988 the band reemerged, with drummer Keith Strickland having switched to guitar and sporting a new backing rhythm section that included Sara Lee, formerly of the post-punk band [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gang of Four[/lastfm]. They released the album Cosmic Thing in 1989, and it turned out to be their mainstream breakthrough. “Love Shack,” the second single released from the album became their first Top 40 hit, going on to peak all the way at #3.
The song’s eponymous good-time meeting place is actually based on a real building. The original ‘love shack’ was a cabin near Athens, Georgia (complete with rusting tin roof) where the band conceived the song “Rock Lobster,” a single from their first album. Singer Kate Pierson had, in fact, lived there in the ’70s. The cabin burned down in 2004, but by that time the B-52s had found enough success through “Love Shack” and subsequent hits spurred by that first success (like “Roam” and “Good Stuff”) that they’ll be well-off enough if they ever wish to replace it.
The colorful video released with “Love Shack” doubtless helped contribute to the song’s success. Look for an early cameo appearance by then-unknown RuPaul. After the jump, take in both that version and one performed live for the band’s induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
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