April 05, 1982 12:00 PM

The B-52’s

Not only could you dance all night to the first B-52’s album in 1979, but with its charming silliness you could laugh to it as well. The style was epitomized by the group’s hit, Rock Lobster, in which the humor arose as much from the music itself—deliberately gawky melody and cheesy organ riffs—as from the loony lyrics. They invited everyone “down, down, down” to squirm on the floor like beached crustaceans. The put-on in Mesopotamia, the B-52’s’ third LP, is in the lyrics only—for instance, in Fred Schneider’s declaration, “There’s one thing that I do know/There’s a lot of ruins in Mesopotamia.” Behind him, Cindy Wilson croons, “Feel the vibrations/I know a neat excavation,” The music meanwhile has gotten pretty sophisticated. With its layered parts, multiple rhythms and aggressive tone, it sounds a bit like Talking Heads material—no coincidence, since David Byrne produced the album and performed on various instruments. The change might disappoint some, but the music makes a rich case for itself.

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