B-52's Break Open Time Capsule For Fans

Greatest hits album from Athens, Ga.-born new-wave rockers includes two new songs.

When campy talk-singer Fred Schneider takes the stage again with his bandmates in the B-52's this summer, he'll have one thing, above all, on his mind.


"It'll be good to get out there and shake my can," said Schneider, 46, of the band's 19-date co-headlining tour with '80s rockers the Pretenders, which kicks off June 18 at the PNC Bank Amphitheater in Holmdel, N.J.

It's been six years since Schneider and the rest of the quirky new-wave act released an album of their bouyant, flamboyant pop. Those fans hungering for a bite of "Rock Lobster" (RealAudio excerpt), a trip to "Planet Claire" and a comfy stay in the "Love Shack" (RealAudio excerpt) can look forward to the band's upcoming greatest hits package, Time Capsule: Songs For A Future Generation.

The 16-song album, due May 26, features the four surviving original members of the B-52's, guitarist Keith Strickland, vocalists Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson, and vocalist/keyboardist Kate Pierson (original guitarist Ricky Wilson died of AIDS in October 1985).

As an extra, added attraction, Time Capsule includes two new songs, "Hallucinating Pluto" and "Debbie," along with the Athens, Ga., pop-rock group's signature hits.

Schneider, who now lives in Long Island, N.Y., said the group will focus its stage show on vintage B-52's, the sound that raised kitsch and camp to new heights after the band first surfaced in the mid-to-late-'70s. "But it'll be different, it'll be colorful and right to the point," he said. "We don't want any sort of gee-gaw overshadowing the show."

In their 22-year career, the B-52's released six albums and two EPs, including their 1989 hit record Cosmic Thing, which featured the singles "Roam" and "Love Shack." The band is perhaps better known for influencing the new-wave scene with its self-titled, debut album, which featured the group's first hit, "Rock Lobster," and with the 1980 album Wild Planet.

For Strickland, the two newly-recorded songs represent a homecoming of sorts. "'Hallucinating Pluto' ... really has a lot of energy and sort of the feel of our very early stuff," said Strickland, 44, by phone from his Woodstock, N.Y., home. "It sort of comes as a full circle. We started with 'Planet Claire' and we ended with 'Hallucinating Pluto,' so I thought it was a nice, cyclic thing going on right there, bringing the planets together."

Strickland said "Debbie," recorded at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., is loosely based on Debbie Harry, the legendary singer for the seminal new-wave act Blondie. But it's also about the formative years of the B-52's in New York's late-'70s new-wave scene.

"When I was working on writing the music for 'Debbie,' I just kept thinking about the early days when we were first getting started," Strickland said. "It's inspired by Debbie Harry but certainly not literally about her. It's a rock 'n' roll tune with lesbian undertones."

For his part, Schneider described "Hallucinating Pluto" as a shortened version of what was once a 10-minute stream-of-consciousness effort derived from "Exquisite Corpse," a game that involves writing lines, covering them up and passing them on to someone who continues the process.

"It's a condensation of this 'Exquisite Corpse' song that's twice as long," he said. "I took it home and sort of pieced it together. There's a narrative and a thread going through it. We wanted to do something real rocking so we could step out of the studio and perform it. We wanted both songs to be really in-your-face."