Monday, March 11, 2013

#433: The B-52's-Private Idaho (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Private Idaho"
Artist: The B-52's
Release Date: 1980
From the Album: Wild Planet (1980)

Quick Take: The B-52’s found a way to keep the party going with this irresistible follow up single to their groundbreaking party-rock debut. The prevailing notion of rock and roll as dance music had been dead a good ten years or more by the time The B-52’s released their self-titled debut in 1978 and almost single handedly brought it back into vogue with their inventive blend of garage rock, ‘60s surf music and a campy interpretation of the then emerging genre of New Wave, found on such house-party anthems as ”Rock Lobster”, ”52 Girls” and ”Dance This Mess Around”. Perhaps more than any other track from their sophomore effort, ”Private Idaho” stands up against these wildly popular party monsters. Where much of Wild Planet would rely on throbbing keyboard bass lines, ”Private Idaho” sticks to the group’s early formula, buoyed by another killer surf riff from the brilliant rhythm guitar master, the late, great, Ricky Wilson and a resilient, relentless dance groove. In the band’s classic tradition, singer Fred Schneider dispenses quirky quips interwoven with contagious vocal harmonies from the famously beehived back-up duo of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson who provide perfect melodic counter point to Schneider’s terse shouts. As usual the lyrics are a quagmire of unfathomable silliness that has something to do with a very dangerous patio and a bottomless pool which may or may not be a kind of metaphor for the suffocating cultural vacuum that is rural America, with Schneider repeated imploring with mock seriousness the double entendre, “Get out of that state! / Get out of that state you’re in! / You better beware” as a tinkling Twilight Zone theme provides a winking sci-fi signifier suggesting unexplainable events lurking behind suburban patio gates and ‘hidden driveways’. But such detailed examinations are beside the point really. The point is to get you off your butt or put a grin on your face -the mission of any B-52’s single and that mission is certainly accomplished here with ”Private Idaho”. 
Courtesy: Tom Maginnis (

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